Where did you get the book: Netgalley Arc
Publisher: Diversion Books
Release Date: Out now
After six years of “angels” coming out of the sky and taking people from her town, 16-year-old Riley Carver has just about had it living with the constant fear. When one decides to terrorize her in her own backyard, it’s the final straw. She takes her mother’s shotgun and shoots the thing. So it’s dead. Or … not? In place of the creature she shot, is a guy. A really hot guy. A really hot alive and breathing guy. Oh, and he’s totally naked.
Not sure what to do, she drags his unconscious body to the tool shed and ties him up. After all, he’s an angel and they have tricks. When he regains consciousness she’s all set to interrogate him about why the angels come to her town, and how to get back her best friend (and almost boyfriend) Chris, who was taken the year before. But it turns out the naked guy in her shed is just as confused about everything as she is.
He thinks it’s 1956.
Set in the deep south, OUTCAST is a story of love, trust, and coming of age. It’s also a story about the supernatural, a girl with a strange sense of humor who’s got wicked aim, a greaser from the 50’s, and an army of misfits coming together for one purpose: To kick some serious angel ass.
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*
Once in awhile, a book’s cover and blurb can really grab you at hello – OUTCAST was one! The gorgeous whimsical cover and a blurb that reminded me of ANGELFALL’S quirky cousin. Although the similarities end at angels abducting humans and there is no post apocalyptic setting or dark overtones. And how can you not resist a heroine who shoots a creepy angel about to abduct her in the face, who then turns into a 1950’s bad boy who is very naked and then asks him questions about who he is and his origins. This is the predicament that Riley Carver faces when she encounters a scary angel who turns into Gabe from 1956 who has no memory of his past life as an angelic being and that he is Rip Van Winkle albeit who is embracing the new chance and modern life.
I was immediately hooked from the start and I loved the sexy and funny banter between Gabe and Riley and her interrogation of Gabe, to find out why the angels are focused on her small town is filled with humour and charm despite the strange circumstances. And for me this really captured the tone of the book even though there was issues with the pacing and the mythology behind the angels.
Riley’s dry narration about how her small town is the Mecca for angels who abduct humans once a year which is called The Taking was more focused on her life as a teen and grief over the loss of her best friend, Chris who was taken in the previous year. I really liked how OUTCAST concentrated on Riley’s life and everyday moments. The growing friendship and romance with Gabe really helped to fit the tone of the whimsical and quirky tone of the setting of the book which also had a hidden element of darkness and foreboding.
The book especially takes a darker direction when Riley starts having visions of an angel stalker who reveals itself to be her guardian angel. But this where the weak aspects of the story comes to play and it is the reason of why the angels abduct the town people and the mythology attached to it. I felt frustrated just like Riley who is not given answers because she doesn’t ask the right questions on how to stop the angels in the next Taking. I also felt this element where it delved into mythology of the angels was just bogging down the story and the pace of the book. I was more interested in the romance and the everyday life of Riley and Gabe experiencing their year at high school and dealing with the social politics was more interesting. The paranormal factor was not fleshed out and felt way too vague.
While I liked that there was a creepy pastor who profited from the fear and awe of The Taking by basing a church there and sidelining the priest of the local church had more promise than the way the storyline developed for me. And I did not like the twist with Riley which was shown as a huge revelation.
And this is where the story really fell apart for me. I am going to use the spoiler tags below because I tried not to go into real spoilers in my review but because we primarily review romance books this is where I expected the book to end in a different way but didn’t. This is described and marketed as a romance but it does not have a traditional HEA or HFN . I was so so disappointed with it because it felt like a deus ex machina ending with a reset which felt very much like a consolation prize for me.
At the end Gabe decides to leave with the archangels who promise to give back the townspeople who were taken. Riley is left heartbroken but Chris is returned (who was her first love) and this felt like a bait and switch for me. I was expecting a romance and this ending really threw me. I was expecting a more happier ending because the overall tone of the book was misleading and I especially did not think the reasons behind the angels interventions in the town and motives of capturing the rebelling thralls made any sense to me because they were humans and were enslaved. Gabe didn’t remember rebelling or leading a rebel force to break free from his forced enslavement when he was a thrall angel. So taking him away when he was taken wasn’t fair and the message of the book about second chances and embracing a new life was not bittersweet but very subversive.
Outcast for me was a very much a flawed book, it had a wonderful romance which was slow to build but it was the real highlight for me. The quirky charm and humour was also another element which added to my enjoyment of the book, despite the lagging middle which really slowed down the pace of the book but it did fit the atmosphere of a small southern town was strong enough to keep me reading. But the paranormal and fantastic elements was the real let down along with the ending was the real letdown for me. Don’t expect this as a romance with the ending you expect in the genre because I felt that even though it explored themes of coming of age and second chances. I felt the ending was very dark and depressing and the twist was a huge disappointment for me.
I give Outcast a C-