Saturday, May 21, 2016

Kid Konnection: The Outliers

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a fantastic new YA thriller that's the first in a new series.

Summary: From the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia comes a fast-paced teen series where one girl learns that in a world of intrigue, betrayal, and deeply buried secrets, it is vital to trust your instincts.

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 but 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?

In this breakneck tale, New York Times bestselling author Kimberly McCreight brilliantly chronicles a fateful journey that begins with a single decision—and ends up changing everything. -- Harper

One of my highlights from the 2015 BEA was meeting Kimberly McCreight, author of RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA and WHERE THEY FOUND HER -- you can read my reviews here
and here. She is not only gorgeous and sweet, but she's an incredible writer. Now that I've spent some time talking with her, it's kind of hard to believe that she can come up with such disturbing stories!

Her latest novel, THE OUTLIERS, has all of the suspense and intense moments that her first two books did, but this one is geared towards a YA audience. I rarely read YA, but I am so glad I read this one. This book was definitely a page turner, full of twists and turns. In fact, I can't remember the last book I read with this many surprises!

THE OUTLIERS tells the story of Wylie, a teen who is suffering from extreme anxieties issues. She is unable to leave her house (she even talks to her therapist rather than visit!), and she's basically been cut off from everyone including her best friend Cassie. When Cassie goes missing and Wylie receives some cryptic texts from her indicating trouble, Wylie teams up with Cassie's boyfriend Jasper (a guy who she's not particularly fond of) to find her.

Wylie forces herself to leave her house and heads north into Maine with Jasper to find Cassie. The two have absolutely no idea where Cassie is are receiving intermittent texts that start to sound like Cassie's life is in danger. When Jasper's car breaks down, Wylie and Jasper hitch a ride with a young couple and their baby; and Wylie senses that something's not quite right... and that's putting it mildly!

When Wylie and Jasper finally reach their destination, they discover some dark and confusing secrets that threaten everything Wylie thinks she knows about her life!

I really enjoyed THE OUTLIERS. It truly is such a fast-paced novel that I read it in less than a day! I was impressed with how much suspense there was in this story, and the twists and turns were so quick that I could barely keep up with them. I have no doubt that this novel will appeal to smart young adult readers who appreciate thrillers!

One thing I appreciated about THE OUTLIERS was the character of Wylie. She was definitely a smart girl, but I loved how real she was too. Needless to say, Wylie was a bit of an outlier. She didn't have many friends, was afraid to leave her house, and just always had such strong feelings. I found it interesting that the author decided to give Wylie some serious issues with anxiety, and I appreciated how she brought her fears and discomfort to life in the novel. In addition, I enjoyed seeing Wylie attempt to overcome her problems to help save her one-time best friend.

Another aspect of the novel that I appreciated was the pacing of the novel. It moved very quickly and I can only describe my experience as a "rush to the end!" There were more twists that I could count and I will admit that there was a time I had to go back and re-read a few pages because I was so shocked by what happened... and unable to process what was going on. (Of course, that could be because I was reading so quickly too!)

And finally, I liked some of the messages in this novel. That's probably just a mom talking and I don't want it to sound like there were heavy-handed, preachy messages because there weren't. I just appreciated that there were some themes like the value of friendship, loyalty, and girl power that were recurring throughout the novel. I also found that there were some messages about believing first impressions, judging people before you know them, trusting your gut instinct, and living with a psychological condition that were important too.

Based on the ending, I was very excited to learn that THE OUTLIERS is the first book in a trilogy. Granted, I thought this book was extremely exciting, but the ending did leave me with more than a few questions. I can't wait for the next installment in this series so I can see what's in store for Wylie! I highly recommended THE OUTLIERS to fans of YA, both kids and adults!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


bermudaonion said...

I really like her adult books so I'm excited to see she's entering the YA world.

Kate Unger said...

Oh wow. Sounds great! I love YA, so I'm adding this to my list. I should be back to the link up starting next week and then only skipping the first Saturday of the month for another link up. I got so many kids books at BEA, so I have lot of reviews coming up!

Unknown said...

Hi My name is Kandra and I hope u find my book interesting for your juvenile readers

Stacie said...

What a fun picture book for toddlers and loved the author/illustrator interview!