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Review: The Outliers

The Outliers - Kimberly McCreight

 I received a copy from Netgalley.


I can’t remember what it was that caught my eye about this title. It was on my wishlist for a while, so when I saw it pop up on Netgalley, I took a chance and figured what the hell. I’d give it a shot. I’d already seen Goodreads reviews pop up and the ones from the blogs and reviewers I follow were a mix, some loved it, some hated it.


Unfortunately, I was in the hated it group. Well, I didn’t actually hate it, I didn’t like it much. It was stupid – but in a this is so stupid why the hell am I still reading this – what’s going to happen next? I need to know! Kind of way.


The whole thing was ludicrous convoluted mess. It starts with Wylie struggling to get over the death of her mother. Her twin brother whom she doesn’t really get on with is a genius and not very helpful, her dad is some sort of research scientist who works with emotional perceptions. Wylie has terrible anxiety, hasn’t left the house in months. Her dad and her doctor are trying to convince her it’s time to get back to things and go back to school and help the healing process and moving on with her life.


Wylie is grumpy, moody and not having any of it. Then her former BFF’s Cassie’s mom turns up asking if Wylie has heard from Cassie. Cassie and mom had a huge fight and Cassie’s been MIA ever since. Wylie and Cassie have sort of stopped speaking, Cassie’s become involved with the popular kids at school who are into partying and drinking, Cassie’s dating a guy, Jasper, who Wylie dislikes intensely (even though she’s never met the guy, she’s just going on rumours and what she perceives his attitude to be from seeing him around high school). While the parents are talking Wylie texts Cassie and gets a worrying response.


So while the parents go and look around town for Cassie, Wylie is home alone and Jasper shows up at Wylie’s house, Cassie sends more cryptic texts. And next thing we know, even though she doesn’t like him or trust him in the slightest, Wylie and Jasper are gathering supplies and heading off to find Cassie as per her text instructions.


Bear in mind Wylie hasn’t left the house in months, can’t deal with people at the best of times, and the reader learns has fallen out with Cassie and they’re not even really friends anymore. In one way it’s kind of admirable that even though things have gone south in the friendship Wylie can put aside the problems that have kept her housebound to the best she can and go off to find her former BFF on very little words.


On the other hand the grown up in me is rolling my eyes and their stupidity. They don’t tell anyone, other than leaving a note for Wylie’s dad telling him not to worry. Of course her dad is going to fucking worry! She’s not left the house in months and she’s going off with some guy she barely knows for a girl she’s not even been speaking to and she’s expecting all the grownups involved to just be okay with this?!?!?!?!


So off Wylie and Jasper go on a road trip through winter in New Hampshire at night without telling anyone and only the barest of info from Cassie’s texts to go on. And things rapidly go downhill from there.  Car trouble, help from people who turn out to be dangerous, when the police finally get involved, they’re not interested in helping, Cassie’s cryptic texts get more and more alarming. Wylie’s dad is worried and furious and has told Wylie her doctor has called the police and if Wylie is caught he will have her committed which makes Wylie pissed off.


Though it turns out Jasper’s not as bad as she thinks he is. He’s actually the more sensible of the two of them, and a pretty decent guy. Wylie is a whiny pain in the ass. Though she does seem to get her head around the danger they are in and at least at one point is smart enough to protect herself with a sharp knife and do some damage.


So the novel progresses on the search for Cassie as one thing after another goes wrong. Despite the utter stupidity of the plot, it is actually quite compelling. As I said earlier, even though it’s stupid, you still find yourself wanting to know what the hell is going on and why is this happening. Where is Cassie?


The explanations are some convoluted nonsense to do with covert special ops groups wanting Wylie’s scientist Dad’s research. Something to do with people with extra sensory abilities. Which of course tie massively into Wylie. Cassie has secrets of her own. Everyone’s got twisty secrets and nothing is as it seems. And just when you think it’s going to be okay…warning bells go off when mysterious agents claiming to be from Homeland Security appear, and...there’s a big ass cliffhanger and that’s the end.


And even though I loathed Wylie and Cassie, I will probably find myself wanting to read the next one.


Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK Children’s for approving my request to view the title.