Author: Adrienne Kress (The Friday Society)
Publisher: Diversion Books
After six years of “angels” coming out of the sky and taking people from her town, 16-year-old Riley Carver has just about had it living with the constant fear. When one decides to terrorize her in her own backyard, it’s the final straw. She takes her mother’s shotgun and shoots the thing. So it’s dead. Or … not? In place of the creature she shot, is a guy. A really hot guy. A really hot alive and breathing guy. Oh, and he’s totally naked.
Not sure what to do, she drags his unconscious body to the tool shed and ties him up. After all, he’s an angel and they have tricks. When he regains consciousness she’s all set to interrogate him about why the angels come to her town, and how to get back her best friend (and almost boyfriend) Chris, who was taken the year before. But it turns out the naked guy in her shed is just as confused about everything as she is.
He thinks it’s 1956.
Set in the deep south, OUTCAST is a story of love, trust, and coming of age. It’s also a story about the supernatural, a girl with a strange sense of humor who’s got wicked aim, a greaser from the 50’s, and an army of misfits coming together for one purpose: To kick some serious angel ass.
I’ve been waiting for this book for a while. At the beginning of last year, I really enjoyed Adrienne Kress’s Friday Society, and was kind of disappointed that it wasn’t a series so that I could continue reading it. I was very happy to hear about a new book from Kress, this time about angels, and got even more excited when I saw some good reviews, but I had one problem: I couldn’t figure out how to get my hands on it. It took a while for it to show up in my library’s ebook collection, and I was on hold for it for a while, but I finally got it, read it, and pretty much loved it.
Despite reading the summary, which told me that this book is “set in the deep south,” I was a bit surprised by it and its inclusion of religion. Sure, the religion is about angels (for reasons you’ll understand in the first chapter – or maybe even through the summary), but this is a small town that’s religious to the point of being fanatics. As I’ve mentioned in some other books I’ve reviewed from the month of January, it was an unexpected month of religion (and a few southern books, also a slightly new thing for me), and this definitely fit that bill. Riley definitely isn’t as religious as the rest of the town, at least concerning angels, but she also doesn’t spend all her time looking down on religion, which is always a bit of fresh air in the media. The people who worship angels aren’t really portrayed in a positive light, but they aren’t put in a negative light either – they’re just people, and they happen to be religious. I really appreciated that.
The romance in this book was pretty adorable and sometimes frustrating at the same time. If you read the summary, you’ll see that Riley shot an angel who is now totally naked and thinks he’s in the year 1956. This angel is very entertaining and can be quite charming when he uses what I assume most people would call “Southern charm.” Some of my favorite scenes with him are in the beginning, when he doesn’t know it’s 2013 and is tied up after being shot down by Riley. Their relationship can be frustrating too, though, because sometimes it seemed like the book was going out of its way to keep them apart until late enough in the novel or something. And Riley was sometimes naïve or just annoying when she kept internally insisting that he wasn’t a viable love interest or something, I don’t even remember.
There’s more to this story than naked angels, though. I really wasn’t quite sure what to expect based on the summary, which I didn’t memorize or anything before I read it, so even if it told me about a war on angels (oh, look at that, it does say that! I just reread it, if you can’t tell), I had forgotten by the time I started reading. Anyway, I liked the whole misfits coming together and learning to fight together and all that. There were some interesting characters, although I feel like they could have been fleshed out more.
Sometimes I feel like this book relied on some tropes too much, or just didn’t expand on things as much as I’d have liked it to. For instance, Riley could be a confusing character – the loner who doesn’t seem like she should be a loner most of the time. There’s also a twist with her later on that seemed slightly out of nowhere and that I now think back on with a side-eye, wondering why it was even necessary. There’s also a mean girl who’s obviously not a mean girl but Riley never seems to fully acknowledge this, if I remember correctly.
And then there’s the ending. It seems like a good “there’s no such thing as a real happy ending” kind of ending, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sometimes wish that things had turned out perfectly and that there really was a happily ever after. So, if you want a traditional happy ever after, especially with your romance, you might not be too happy with the ending.
Anyway, I’m glad to say that I continue to be a fan of Kress after her second book. I don’t know what she’s working on for her third novel, but I’m almost positive that I’ll be happily checking it out.