The sequel The Scattering came out a couple of weeks ago, so I decided to read The Outliers again, and repost a review to see how I feel about it, a year later.
From the blurb:
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?
The tagline for the book is “Trust Your Instincts”.
Wylie is not a typical teen, she suffers from crippling anxiety, which has become much worse since losing her mother in a car accident, and escalated into agoraphobia. Her best friend Cassie has suddenly gone a bit wild and started hanging with the cool kids: drinking, taking drugs and having sex. The usual teenage shenanigans.
When Wylie gets the text from Cassie to say that she needs help, Wylie hasn’t left her house in 3 weeks. She’s stopped going to school, talking to her friends, and is really worrying her dad and twin brother Gideon. To be fair though, Gideon is a bit of a knob.
When Jasper, Cassie’s no-good boyfriend shows up at Wylie’s door, she only hesitates for a moment, and then pushes herself to get out the door to go and save her best friend. This speaks volumes about Wylie’s character.
Strangely this is a YA novel where I absolutely identify with the teen protagonist. As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety, I thought the authors description of how this affected Wylie was spot on. There have been times when I have had to literally drag myself out of the door, to do something that I didn’t want to, and felt as if I would pass out, have a heart attack or just completely lose it.
Also, I’m sure we all had that fight with the one friend, who is suddenly invited up to the popular kids’ table, and seems to forget the last 5 years of the sane kids bullying them. High school is a bitch.
With exploration of grief, depression and anxiety, this novel really doesn’t feel like a young adult novel.
I’m not going to go into the weird stuff that happens on Wylie and Jasper’s road trip, because spoilers, but I will say that things are just plain weird; along the way there are malfunctions and interactions with strangers, plus Cassie is behaving strangely, sending out these cryptic texts.
Wylie has no idea who to trust. In all honesty, I’d probably tell Cassie to spell out the problem if she wanted help and speak to my parent/s, but I’m not in high school anymore, everything doesn’t seem quite as “the fate of the world depends upon this”.
Anyway, this is a really good novel, the first of a planned trilogy. I’d try not to read the official book description if you are thinking of buying it, because it pretty much ruins the first book for you.
On a second read I gave this book 4/5 stars, which is an increase of 1 star from last year.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.