Book Review: Outpost by Ann Aguirre

OutpostTitle: Outpost

Author: Ann Aguirre

Series: Razorland #2

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The Overview: Deuce’s whole world has changed. Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight. To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out. Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.


The Review:

Outpost might be my least favorite Aguirre book so far, and that saddens me because I am incredibly fond of this author. The book just didn’t sing to me like her other works have and I was left feeling depressed and wondering if I even wanted to continue on.

Aguirre has always been good at drawing readers in and making them feel like they are part of the story. In this case – a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested world – being a part of it was honestly the last thing I wanted to do. I had a hollow, sick feeling the whole time I was reading it because there were so many awful things happening. I’ve read plenty of gruesome, gory, and disturbing novels in the past but apparently have never read one written engagingly enough to ruin my day. I’ll grudgingly admit that’s actually a great thing from the author’s standpoint – her writing is nothing if not evoking. Even so, there were actually a couple more concrete reasons why Outpost wasn’t my favorite.

Most of those reasons revolve around story structure and plot decisions. The middle novel in a trilogy is usually where momentum starts to build towards some overall story arc. In Outpost, the story kind of just strolled along, maintaining a fairly narrow focus. Never throughout it did I feel like Aguirre was working towards anything in specific and therefore got kind of bored without anything broader conflicts driving the story (there were many excellent, often emotional narrow conflicts, but I feel as though the story could’ve been much stronger with both). Because the characters didn’t have anything to strive for other than just plain survival, it kind of left me feeling like there was no hope. In the first one, they at least had a brighter future to look forward to, but I missed having even a hint of that here.

If I do read on, it will be for love of the characters. I mentioned in my review of Enclave (and probably every other Aguirre review I’ve done) that this author is a master of profound characters. The main protagonists, Deuce, is a wonderfully complicated character because she’s trying to fit in a world much different from the one she grew up in. Not once did Deuce behave untrue to herself in order to fit the mold of a typical teen heroine, and I thought she was absolutely charming. I’m inclined to compare her to Katniss, but I feel that would do Deuce a disservice – she stands strong on her own and didn’t in any way feel like a knockoff. And her conflicts were compelling – she thought about things so differently than I would that it was completely fascinating. Throughout the story, she remained true to her roots while still managing to grow beyond them and adapt – it was awesome.

I should acknowledge that up until Outpost I had been reading dystopian after dystopian for several months running and was on the verge of getting burnt out in the genre. Let’s face it, they are not exactly what you call “uppers.” Outpost was sort of the last straw, convincing me that I needed to read something else for a while. Even so, I am fairly certain I will pick up the final book, Horde, if for nothing else than my love of the main character… Maybe not for a few months though – I still get depressed just thinking about this book.

Recommended Reading: I would suggest this to people who love zombie stories and teen books with an edge. Even though I’m most definitely not on the zombie bandwagon, I think others who are would really enjoy Aguirre’s take on them.

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