Review: The Outside by Laura Bickle

The OutsideTitle: The Outside

Author: Laura Bickle

Genre: Horror, Survival, YA, Paranormal

Publication Date: September 3, 2013 (Harcourt Children’s Books)

Source: print ARC via Amazon Vine

Synopsis: One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…

After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.

And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?

In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?

3.5/5 stars – More survival-horror than vampire-horror, but still well-paced and entertaining

Thank goodness I didn’t have to wait long to read this! After enjoying The Hallowed Ones and its version of the vampire apocalypse, my ability to be patient and wait for a sequel like a champ disappeared. The Outside turned out to be a little bit of a disappointment, but it’s still a great novel and fans of the first book will no doubt love it just as much!

Katie was forced to undergo a lot of character development as the vampire apocalypse took hold last we saw her, but now that she’s no longer considered part of her community, she gets even more. She breaks all the rules trying to survive, including some of her most deeply held beliefs. She and Alex have plenty of moral arguments about good and evil, what sacrifices have to be made (and boy, are some big ones made!) in the name of survival, and forgiveness. This book takes a much quieter approach than its predecessor and it works perfectly. Love it! In addition to all that, it’s fast-paced comes up with plenty of new scares and schemes to make our characters suffer through now that they’re Outside. Whee!

With all that said, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why I liked this installment less. The rough recaps offered toward the beginning were definitely a factor. It might have been helpful to someone who read The Hallowed Ones a long time ago, but that recap felt unneeded considering how recently I read it. Even then, it and the out-of-place detailing of Amish life were a little much. Katie’s not even in her community for most of the book and what she details isn’t always of use. This installment also feels like the kind of survival-horror narrative I’ve gotten bored of over the last couple of years. The semi-old-fashioned vampire horror of the first book was more entertaining in a way, though this is the superior book thematically.

Though the ending is open, enough questions are answered and enough loose ends are tied up that it appears The Outside is the end for this series–duology, really. Bickle’s writing and plotting is strong enough that if she decides to write more YA novels, you bet I’ll be back to read them.

One thought on “Review: The Outside by Laura Bickle

  1. I liked this one too. I think I liked it less than the first because I was so fascinated by learning about the Amish lifestyle and culture. This book had less of that. Is this one really the end? Sad!

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