by Laura Bickle
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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?
Last year I read The Hallowed Ones and loved the tale Laura Bickle gave us. It was one of my favorite reads, and I was on pins and needles to begin The Outside. Bickle continued Katie’s journey and kept me on the edge of my seat, as we faced danger, death and a freaky solution in this dystopian world. Mini review: brilliant, captivating and a wonderful conclusion.
At the end of book one, Katie shunned by her Amish community leaves with Alex and Ginger. They decide to travel north towards Alex’s family in Canada and the tale that unfolds has them facing down vampires, enjoying a few romantic moments and discovering a possible solution regarding the dark beasts. I could not set this book down and read it in just two sittings.
Bickle did an excellent job with character development as she allowed them to grow and evolve along with this world. Katie is so strong and brave. Her faith is sorely tested and watching her grow, accept and look beyond her teachings was captivating. Some of my favorite scenes involve Katie holding firm to her beliefs and doing either the stupidest things I have ever seen or the bravest. They are always the right choice, but there aren’t many people brave enough to stand up like that. Alex was brave, protective and said some of the sweetest things to Katie. It is quite clear that he loves and respects her. He is a man of science and history, and she tries to view everything through her faith. The relationship felt genuine, and I enjoyed watching it progress. Ginger and other characters along the way added to this dark tale, sometimes bringing sadness, danger and even offering us hope. Along the way they make new friends both human and of the fur variety, and I enjoyed these threads.
The Outside blended different faiths, myths, and beliefs regarding the end of times, and I loved how Bickle shared them with us. Each offered a lesson and hope. We never learn how the vampires developed, but theories were made, somewhere outlandish, and others made me shiver. Given the environment they were in and the lack of communication this aspect was eerily surreal. The author shows man’s unwillingness to change and our astounding fight to survive. As the group traveled, they came to a town untouched by the vampires with strange humans dwelling within; I found the answers there fascinating, and I am not sure how scientific it was, but it was an exciting twist and completely unique. Katie’s transformation from a mindful child to kick-ass woman was an incredible one. She remained true to her God but lost some of the close-minded ways of her religion. The tale ended realistically, and I offered closure.
Fans of the Hallowed Ones need to grab a copy of The Outside, and for those who haven’t tried this dark, dystopian; Laura Bickle offers a refreshing tale in this saturated genre. I have added Bickle to my auto-buy list and cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.
Four and half cups of coffee out of five
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