Book Reviews

Book Review Time: The Outliers | Kimberly McCreight

The Outliers

Synopsis

It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help.

Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.

This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice: she has to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.

But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?


 My Review

As I said before, I hate giving bad reviews, because I’m aware of the time and the effort it takes to get a book published. So, I always try to give authors a little leeway when reviewing their works. But this one just couldn’t be avoided.

I always have a hard time reviewing a book I don’t like, because it’s so easy to go off the rails and rant about all the bad things. There are some good things about this book, so let’s start there.

After reading the blurb, the premise seemed very promising. Who doesn’t love a good YA thriller? The first two-thirds of the book was pretty suspenseful. The pacing was fairly good and the underlying threat of danger and deceit was carried along on a thrilling wave of fast-paced action and split-second decisions. The texts received from Cassie were adequately chilling and cryptic, but strangely suspicious. Wylie and Jasper’s determination to save Cassie, either from herself or from some unknown entity, set the tone and placed them in equally terrifying and eerie situations.

From the beginning to about midway through, the story’s motto seemed to be “don’t think about it, just go-go-go!” McCreight’s writing was clever and incited a certain level of tension that captivated me.

Unfortunately, the plot fell apart towards the end. All the suspense and thrill seemed to fade away as truths were revealed and found to be false. The constant twisting of the truth and exaggeration of events crippled the strength of the story and in the end, everything became ridiculous and unbelievable as certain events started to unfold. Wylie and Jasper were too easily fooled and the explanation for why Cassie disappeared was boring and extremely contrived. What’s more, the premise for Wylie’s father’s research made no sense and sounded too much like a wikipedia look-up to me. The ending was rushed and all too convenient, and not at all surprising or complex, though the story wanted you to believe it was.

I didn’t care much for any of the characters, especially the MC Wylie, who was way too self-absorbed, judgmental, and not very interesting. Her constant judging of her best friend, Cassie and her ex-boyfriend Jasper was extensive and unnecessary and her agoraphobia, though a unique characteristic, was both underutilized and over-utilized. Her issue was a pressing concern in the beginning, only to be solved with a couple of deep breathes and “here-we-go”s. There were a lot of formulaic elements and clichés in the story, but I could have been able to forgive them if the characters were in the least bit likable.

This book had potential. Loads of it. The beginning and middle held my attention, but then the story just seemed to wither up and die towards the end. Everything spiraled out of control in terms of reason and believability. Though a valiant effort by the author, The Outliers is not a very convincing read.


Book Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Publication Date: May 3, 2016
  • Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller
  • My Rating: ★★☆☆☆
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