Author: Ann Aguirre
Genre: YA, Dystopia/Post-Apocalyptic, Zombies
Publication Date: September 4, 2012 (Macmillan – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: 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.
☆: 3.5/5 stars – a good continuation from book one, but could have been better.
Review: Sadly, guys, there’s a lot of middle book syndrome in “Outpost” – things don’t start getting really interesting until the second half of the book, and I felt like the pace overall was pretty sluggish whilst it tried to set up for book 3. However, even if it has MBS, it is a pretty solid sequel to “Enclave”, and you can definitely bet I’ll be reading book 3. I guess I just expected a lot more from Aguirre after the awesome thriller that was “Enclave.”
So, yeah. First part of the book? Very flat. We do get a progress report as to how all of our heroes are doing since reaching Salvation, the town among the ruins not far from Gotham. The world isn’t expanded very much – if anything, Aguirre really narrows the scope to Salvation and its immediate area, unlike in book one, where there’s a ton more worldbuilding. Here, it kind of stagnated with focusing on how everyone’s adjusting and how relationships have changed – something I just wish hadn’t had so much time devoted to it. I think I could have dealt with the necessary reports of getting used to Salvation with only a third of the book (or less) before launching into what this book is really about.
Also – semi-forced love triangle? I was hoping that we’d be done with this by now since everything seemed pretty much resolved at the end of book one. Come on, guys. I thought we were past this in YA. I guess I’m wrong. But it utterly bored me, and that made me sad. However, this triangle once again resolves itself once the plot gets moving again and Deuce and Fade reconnect. So I don’t know what to make of that, other than more than a bit of disappointment on the romance front.
However, when this book really gets going, it gets going. We learn more about the Freaks, and how they’re really not as they seem – their intelligence, strategy, and social relations are definitely not traditional zombie-like behavior, leading to Aguirre’s final big reveal in the afterword (where it probably shouldn’t have been, but whatever) as to the true nature of the Freaks. Answer: Yep, they’re still decaying cannibals, but something more. I can’t wait to see what book three holds on that front as her tease was pretty tantalizing, as was the ending with all of our heroes setting out from a seething Salvation that wants them dead. So that part was pretty satisfying, as was all of the scenes at the outpost site/planting fields. I love how Deuce was made a little less headstrong – she got the cocky knocked out of her (FINALLY – that was really starting to eat at me for the first half of the book). Stalker becomes less of an ass, and apologizes for his behavior in book one. It all kind of works out that way. But the phantom love triangle is still there, hanging over everyone’s heads, and I just wish Aguirre would let it go. UGH.
But otherwise? A solid follow-up. Not the one I’d hoped for, but it did the job adequately enough to still keep me invested in these characters and this story, and still enough to make me want to read book three.
Final verdict? If you’ve read the first book and liked it, you may as well read book two. “Outpost” will be out from Macmillan Children’s on September 4, 2012 in North America, so be sure to check it out then!