Saturday, December 8, 2012

Book Review: Outpost by Ann Aguirre

Reading a good book is just like being whisked away to a whole other world, full of adventure and romance and goodies you can't seem to tear yourself away from. With all the college craziness going on in your typical senior's life, an awesome book is something of a magic portal. Seriously, I think it's the one thing that helped keep me sane these last few months! "Outpost", the sequel of Ann Aguirre's riveting "Enclave", helped me do just this, and I could crawl into Deuce's skin and enjoy being free (or as free as she can be, given her circumstances!). Though I--and Deuce!--had to face flesh-eating Freaks besieging your foster hometown, threatening to kill and devour everyone you've grown to care about into shreds. But hey, beggars can't be choosers, right?

Deuce's whole world has changed. Not only is she the odd one out in the ultra-conservative town of Salvation, being far from a feminine young lady a girl ought to be, but her hunting partner Fade is keeping her at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven't changed, but his cold attitude confuses and hurts her. Frustrated, Deuce jumps at the chance to join the summer patrol, protecting the planters from the Freaks. But the Freaks are changing, watching, waiting and becoming smarter and smarter as the days pass. Salvation can't survive for much longer, and it may take a girl just like Deuce to save them all.

There's really not much that can beat a kick-ass heroine. Being exiled from the only home you've known? No biggie. Annoying conservatives who viciously blame you for all their troubles? Piece of cake. Cutting down flesh-eating mutants? All manageable! Deuce is such a likable character because she's strong, determined and just plain kicks butt, but at the same time is compassionate and righteous. You just cheer for her whenever she bests a bad guy, and reach out to her when she's feeling hurt or angry or sorrowful. Deuce's narrative voice remains engaging throughout the entire story, and I became so invested in her that I almost felt like I became her. Such a compelling narrator is crucial to any novel, and Deuce was what really drove the events and the emotions throughout "Outpost".

Another thing that blew me away and warmed the cockles of my heart was the relationship between Deuce and Fade. The nuances and complexities of their romance made it all the more believable, and there were incredibly sweet moments that made me long for something just like what the two have between them. Nothing was too cloying, but was so realistic that you can't help but become invested in their romance. I liked the way their relationship developed both throughout and since "Enclave", and in "Outpost", Ms. Aguirre weaves in layers to their relationship that just fascinated me as I saw their romance morph into something so beautifully real.

The other characters in the novel are diverse and distinct in their own ways. I loved Momma Oaks and Edmund so much. They make the perfect foster parents for the battle-hardened Deuce, and the ways they each showed her what familial love in their own ways is were sweet and endearing. Deuce's developing love for her foster family also added to their relationship as well. As for Stalker, I liked how he added a little bit of tension for Deuce and Fade's relationship, but at the same time so, so, so thankful to Ms. Aguirre that she didn't turn it into a typical love triangle where Deuce is confused between the two boys and ends up unwittingly playing with both of them. Please, please don't change that in the next book, Ms. Aguirre!

The storyline of the novel was compelling and fast-paced throughout the entire novel, even when, in retrospect, some parts don't seem like they're action-packed (not complaining--every story needs some breathing time!). Which just goes to show how fun "Outpost" was to read--I swear I devoured it in a day, tops! My one complaint is that the climax could've been a little more climax-y. It just felt like it was over pretty quickly. Other than that, though, I was hooked.

Overall, "Outpost" is an extremely compelling, wonderful sequel that makes me want to crawl in between the covers and just live with Deuce and Fade. It's a definite must-read for lovers of romance, action or kick-ass characters. And if you haven't read "Enclave" yet, what are you doing still staring at the screen? Get at it!

Rating: 5/5

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