Outcast by Adrienne Kress
Published by Diversion Books
Publish Date: June 4, 2013
Source: Publisher for Review – Thank you!
Find it here: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N
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.
Outcast by Adrienne Kress
My Thoughts: I read Outcast by Adrienne Kress a while back and did the Blog Tour and everything, but for some reason, I never put up my review. I FAIL, world. You need to know how much I enjoyed this book. And the characters. And how well this author meshed an angel-dude from the 1950’s into today’s world. Really, I have to tell you. So listen up.
Also, if you haven’t seen it,
and I loved that guest post. It’s been one of my favorites ever.
The first thing you need to know is this:
There is something called “The Taking”
and it’s gotten the town in an uproar.
Okay so let me set this up for you guys – There’s this small town out there (I picture some dusty farm community, but you can picture it however you want) that has an annual event that has people partly terrified and partly making preparations for it like it’s Christmas or something. It’s called The Taking, and it’s pretty weird. See, on one evening per year, angels come down from the sky and randomly pick people from the town to take back with them. People don’t want to go and they don’t want their loved ones to be taken, but they’re fearful of what could happen if they resist these angels or fight back. Can you imagine how scary that would be – if you had to live in that town and possibly be taken for some unknown reason to an unknown place?
The town actually has rules regarding this occurrence: you can’t leave the town and you have to be gathered at a specific area on the specified night, things like that – the book goes into more detail about the rules, but basically the rules are designed to keep everyone at the same odds when it comes to being picked. If people flee the town before The Taking and only a few people stay, the ones that stay have a higher chance of being taken, ya know? This is why there are rules, and Riley doesn’t like these rules. She has her reasons.
Our main character Riley Carver flat-out hates the angels because they took her boyfriend last year. She really liked Chris, maybe even loved him, and now he’s gone. Despite the town rules and their consequences, Riley chooses to ignore the rules this year and stay at home on the night of The Taking – she’s still not over Chris being taken last year and she just refuses to take part in such a foolish ritual. So, doggone it, Riley stays home. Ironically and coincidentally – this year, an angel shows up at Riley’s house, of all places! What are the chances, right?
What does Riley do? Well, first she has a little OMG!/hold my breath/what-the-heck moment. Then she does what any other self-respecting, VERY ANGRY teenage girl would do: she uses grabs father’s shotgun and shoots the angel. Then what happens? The angel turns into a boy, right in front of her eyes – a very naked, very handsome boy.
The second thing you need to know is this:
Gabe McClure had no idea he was an angel before he was shot.
He has no recollection of the past fifty years or so.
That’s when Gabe was apparently taken, see. So now he’s been plopped forward-in-time (sort of) into the present day, totally naked in Riley’s yard, and he has no idea what’s going on. Riley chains him up and plans to get information out of him that she can use to get Chris back. She thinks she’s SO smart…
But Gabe has other plans! He’s such a smooth-talker, that one. While Riley is away one day, Gabe finds his way loose from where he’s being chained in the barn by Riley – he sweet-talks her mother into letting him stay there and giving him a job doing odds and ends around the house, since Riley’s father is gone so much for work. That boy has weaseled his way into Riley’s life! Riley is incredibly angry, but it isn’t long before Gabe has sweet-talked her too and there is a reluctant and hesitant rapport that begins to build between these two.
See, since it’s been SO LONG since Gabe has been around as a human, he really doesn’t have anyone at all – is friends and family from the past are all gone. All he has is Riley and her family, and they’re so kind to him. He enrolls in school and goes with her – and he’s quite popular – but eventually Riley is really his one true, real friend. Their slow friendship builds enough trust to eventually lead Riley to share what she knows about The Taking and the angels and Chris and her reasons for distrusting everything about that entire situation, and Gabe listen to her and finds it interesting as well. Soon they’re working together to fact-find and investigate…
Also, Gabe likes Riley. And Riley likes Gabe. This happens very slowly but naturally neither of them speak up about it for a long time. But when they do, I saw stars and hearts and little birds flying in circles around my head. I thought the two of them were so stinkin cute. (You will too, I know it.)
The third thing you need to know is this:
There’s a crazy preacher-man in town that is capitalizing on The Taking
and the angels as a whole.
He’s kind of creepy and has the town wrapped around his finger.
Everyone but Riley (and Gabe by default).
So there is a real church in this small community – a church like most Americans are used to hearing about in America’s small communities. But when these angels begin to make their yearly trips to collect random townspeople, one guy steps up and becomes sort of an unofficial-official spokesperson for The Taking, acting like he is all friendly with the angels and has some sort of connection to them. It’s creepy. He builds himself a church, gives himself a title, and people start attending. And then he guilts people into attending. And then he starts to gain more of a position around town, and he uses it to his advantage. He’s really smarmy and slimy and just gross…but written perfectly.
Riley has his number, though – she doesn’t believe for one second that this guy has any kind of direct contact with the angels or any kind of special connection to them AT ALL. And she, with the help of Gabe and a rag-tag group of other skeptics, plan to prove this guy is a fraud and perhaps take on (read: fight) the angels in the process. They want their loved ones back. They want to live without fear of being taken. They don’t want The Taking to occur anymore. They want these angels to just leave them alone.
The truth about Outcast by Adrienne Kress is that a lot happens and my description and thoughts are shoddy at best. What I can tell you is that 1) it is a TON of fun to read 2) I absolutely loved Gabe McClure and his 1950’s self and 3) Riley Carver is a badass. High five to Adrienne Kress for entertaining me like a boss.
Riley Carver starts out the story both angry and hurt, and this is what drives her to be rebellious on that one night, at just the right time and place. I’m not sure exactly why the angel shows up at her house during The Taking – is it planning to take her? – but before I had the chance to even think about it, she’d attacked the thing and chained it up. Talk about a butt-kicking female, and a young one at that since she’s only in high school! Riley faced her fear in the face, shot it, lived to tell about it, and then grilled it with questions like a police investigator when it weirdly turned out to be a naked and attractive teenage boy. From that point in the book, I had no idea where the story would go but I loved the direction it took as I kept reading.
Riley did a pretty good job at keeping her cool throughout everything – for the most part – and remained relatively cool as a cucumber and strong as she could be throughout the story BUT! she still had weakness and vulnerabilities. I love that in my leading ladies, particularly the ones of the butt-kicking variety. For all of the strength and whip-smart snark that Riley had, Gabe was just the opposite – he was nothing but swagger.
Once Gabe found his way out, found some clothes, and gained back some of his lost dignity, there were times in the book that I had to chuckle at. I think this is because Outcast was so visual to me that it played out like a movie – I could so clearly visualize Gabe and his 1950’s-ness talking to Riley and her now-ness, if that makes sense at all. He kept calling her little nicknames like “Sweetheart” and every time he did that, even from the very beginning when it was clear that there were no romantic feelings at all, my heart did a little leap. Why? I don’t know. Because Gabe was so cool, I guess.
Gabe and Riley together were really a fun pair – totally mismatched, completely from different eras. I loved it. They talked differently, dressed differently, and had different mannerisms as the culture had changed so much over the past fifty years. This had the potential to be really wonky and disjointed in the story flow, but I thought it worked out really well. Gabe learned to fit into the present-day without losing his 50’s charm and THAT WAS AWESOME. (Also, Gabe rode a motorcycle. That really has nothing to do with what I’m talking about right now, but I thought I’d throw that in there since I’ve already told you he called Riley “Sweetheart” all the time. LOVE.)
And there is a romance here – it isn’t huge and it isn’t steamy, but there are a few swoony moments. You guys, I rooted for these two and I WANTED there to be a “Gabe + Riley” so I was excited when they finally went out on a real date. But the truth is that this isn’t a really romantic book, so those swoony moments are not the big part of the book and the rest of the story just kind of stands in front of these two as a couple. I think that worked well in this book – had the romance been any bigger it would’ve messed up the ending. Oh, that ending! I digress.
As far as The Taking goes, there comes a point in the book when Gabe realizes or remembers or is told what happened, and he revisits his homeplace – it’s at this point that the pair realize that The Taking has happened elsewhere, in other places besides their town. At THIS point, they decide to rally hard to try and stop it because enough is enough and innocent people can’t just keep being taken – it isn’t right! When they round up their small army to fight off the incredibly large, incredibly powerful angel army – it’s almost funny how the odds are stacked against them. Oh, but Author Adrienne Kress has a few tricks up her sleeve, and she uses a few of them here. From here on out, the story takes some twists and turns and there are some ‘things that make you go Hmmm.’
The book itself was engaging and fun and the pacing was great. The characterization was wonderful – I loved the main characters Riley and Gabe, both for differing reasons. Riley is a strong, butt-kicking female and Gabe is a sweet and swaggerific guy that is fifty years ‘off’ (kind of like a Back To The Future-thing, almost) but you just want to hug him and squeeze him for trying so hard to fit in. Gabe likes the present day and because of Riley and her family, he aspires to be a better guy than he was fifty years ago, back when he didn’t have the best reputation. So there is character growth! YES! The secondary characters – friends from school, people from the community, Riley’s army, and Riley’s parents – are all fun and a very colorful cast of characters that I felt were actually fully developed even as they were many in number. I kind of felt like I actually knew the whole dang town, y’all. And it worked.
I loved Outcast. I made a point of reading it slowly – I usually read quickly – but I wanted to take everything in and just mull it over. Adrienne Kress gives us so much in this book, so many details – but it isn’t detail overload or info dump. There is just so much going on with the town preparing for the upcoming day of The Taking, and time is running out for Riley’s army to prepare and this and that. New information about all kinds of stuff keeps popping up, and there are feelings that have developed between Riley and Gabe (LOVE LOVE LOVE). When everything finally happens and action picks up as the book neared the climax, my heart fluttered and beat and skipped beats and fluttered some more and I held my breath to see what would happen – could these few rag-tag people beat a huge, powerful angel army? And then THINGS happened, you guys. YOU GUYS! And then I felt emotions. Adrienne Kress, you made me feel emotions.
Ultimately, Outcast was just a ton of fun all the way through and I even felt THINGS and emotions at the end. I enjoyed the heck out of it. It is a new-to-me angel mythology, which is always fun, but keep in mind that while the angels play a big role in the story, they aren’t the overriding part of this story either. It’s not entirely an angel book because the focus isn’t as much on the angels as it is on Riley and Gabe and everything that goes on with them. And OH! that ending. I have no words!
I recommend Outcast for readers who enjoy YA paranormal with some lite romance, books with angels in them (these are different!), and books with a great small-town setting. Readers that really love butt-kicking female leads will certainly enjoy Riley Carver – I know I loved her. And readers will most likely fall hard for Gabe McClure for no good particular reason at all other than he is Gabe McClure and he is just a cool cat. This book was so much fun and felt so real that it was almost like I had to suspend my belief rather than remember that it was a book that had paranormal elements – the “realness” felt THERE and mixed with a little bit of magic here and there, and that’s kind of neat. Does that make any sense at all? I love what Adrienne Kress did here and I absolutely need to make my way back and read The Friday Society since I enjoyed this one so much.
This is one of those books that I could sit and discuss for hours. I’m not even kidding. I liked it that much.
Outcast will appeal to fans of:
YA Paranormal with Lite Romance
Romance: Slowly developing. No triangle.
Great Small-Town Setting
Outcast by Adrienne Kress
is currently available for purchase.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher to read and share my thoughts on this blog. All thoughts are my own, my own, my own. Thank you Diversion Books and Adrienne Kress!
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