Review: Outpost

Review: OutpostOutpost by Ann Aguirre
Series: Razorland #2
Published by Feiwel & Friends on September 4, 2012
Genres: Dystopian, Horror, Paranormal, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
Pages: 317
Format: ARC
Source: Gifted
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three-half-stars

Deuce’s whole world has changed.

Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn't fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.

To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.

Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.

My recent reread of Enclave turned out to be a bit disappointing compared to my past love of it. Knowing that, I went into Outpost with lowered expectations and came out of it pretty pleased. This series seems to me to be getting stronger, a trend I hope to see continued in Horde.

From a plot perspective, Outpost gets quite a bit more interesting, albeit slowly. The gang (Stalker, Fade, Deuce and Tegan) is now living in Salvation, a small walled town where they intentionally live like it’s the colonial era, believing the plague and freaks were a punishment from God for modern sensibilities. First off, I really liked that Aguirre didn’t demonize the people of Salvation; I was expecting a fairly generic cult twist for that town that didn’t happen. Though some of the ideas of Salvation are inherently flawed and upsetting, many of the townspeople show and open-mindedness and kindness that I can’t help but respect.

The most fascinating aspect of the world building lies in the development of the freaks. In Enclave, they were already some of the scariest zombies around, since they move swiftly and showed signs of gaining intelligence. Well, in Outpost, they’re getting so smart that ethical questions might start arising soon. The freaks, though tough, were relatively easy to defeat, because they lacked strategy and cleverness. Now, though, humanity could truly be doomed.

Now, onto the characters. I felt a good deal more connection to the characters in this one, if not on an emotional level. They felt much better fleshed out. My favorite part was the relationship established between Deuce and her host family. Edmund and Momma Oaks treat Deuce like their own daughter, something which annoys and confuses her at first, but which really helps her grow ultimately. She’s never been cared for like that and the experience helps her understand how much her upbringing has affected her.

The romance has been perhaps the most discussed aspect of this series, largely because a number of readers cannot tolerate the idea of Stalker as a love interest, which I get. So far, I can report that he is not a love interest from Deuce’s point of view. There is a love triangle, depending on how you define them, but his interest in her is completely one-sided. Though he wants her, she’s well aware of his flaws.

Though I nursed no grudge, because I, too, was a realist, Stalker would never be my first choice. It wasn’t his fault where he’d been born, or how he’d come up from brat-hood, but that didn’t mean I wanted him as more than a friend.

Stalker’s a really complex character and thus far I like what Aguirre has done with him. In such a dark future, it would be the survival of the fittest and often the cruelest. Stalker, raised as he was, didn’t have too many options. That doesn’t entirely excuse his choices, but he might be redeemable. However, being redeemable doesn’t mean he can be entirely redeemed in the eyes of the people affected by the person that he used to be. There are so many shades of gray in his character and I appreciate Aguirre’s daring there.

At this point, I’m officially on the Deuce-Fade ship, even if it’s not to “I will go down with this ship” levels. For one thing, Deuce and Fade really like each other. They’re also sweet to one another and thoughtful of each other’s needs. They really seem to come together with an awareness of who the other person truly is and without a mind to changing that. What really sold me on this ship actually is when Fade suffers and injury, which results in him questioning whether he’s strong enough to be worthy of her. His mental anguish and self-doubt is so opposed to the way that most heroes are shown in YA, and I really liked that he was capable of showing such weakness to Deuce.

The second book in the Razorland trilogy improves on the start made in Enclave, and leaves the door open for a truly epic, hopefully heartbreaking final installment full of freak mayhem. If you enjoyed Enclave, Outpost is a must read.

Favorite Quote:

People try to make sense of things, and if they don’t know the answers, they make them up,because for some, a wrong answer is better than none.

9 responses to “Review: Outpost”

  1. Nicole says:

    Great review, Christina! I went into Outpost with high expectations so maybe that is why I wound up a bit disappointed. It’s been a while so I can’t remember exactly what bothered me. But your review reminded me of some of the things I really liked in the book. I wasn’t that enthused to pick up Horde before now, but now you’ve inspired me to give it a shot. Thanks!
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Looking at the responses to the book on GR, opinions on this series are truly all over the place. I likely would have been disappointed if I hadn’t reread Enclave right before, because I five-starred that back in the day, but I’m not the same reader I was then.

  2. Meg says:

    YAY! The Razorland love continues.

    I agree with the Stalker thing. 1. He’s not technically a leg in a triangle as Deuce never considers him an option. 2. That Aguirre has done what she has with his character. It’s a pretty controversial and I know a lot of people had problems with him but I think his arc is really interesting.

    I love the Deuce/Fade dynamic. I wasn’t sold on Fade’s drama at first (not because it wasn’t realistic, I just like my ships to be merrily sailing along) but it is pretty awesome that he’s not the typical alpha male love interest he could’ve so easily been. Also I think it’s incredibly endearing that he wants to be worthy of her.

    I can’t wait to see what you think of Horde.
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Putting Stalker’s character end and not outright demonizing him is controversial, and I know it’s lost her some readers, but I think it adds a lot of depth to the story. I mean, yeah, he could have resisted all of that or changed his gang, but he’s a product of his society, you know? He takes some fault, but it’s also not easy to completely go against everything you were raised to believe was true. And it makes sense that Deuce doesn’t hate him, because she knows she’s the same sort of person, and, had she been male and grown up where he did, she would have put her survival above everything. It’s dark and ugly, but I think it’s realistic.

      I’m sad for them of course, but I think he’ll come around. His macho ego has taken a beating, but he’ll pull through. It’s just nice that Deuce is aloud to be the stronger, crueler one for once. Females usually are the weaker one in relationships in YA, so it’s really nice to see Fade, who was more powerful all unsure of himself.

  3. You really are making me want to pick up this series, even if you weren’t as in love with the first one. I’ll have to see if the library has them and then add them all to my already miles long TBR list 🙂
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    • Christina Franke says:

      Awesome! I think they’re worth reading for sure. The only reason I was disappointed in Enclave was because I read it a few years ago and thought it was perfect. Haha.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Yeah my qualms about Stalker aside – Aguirre brings up some really interesting questions about that (I talked a little about that in the last post). And I agree that a lot of people got it a bit wrong – Stalker having a crush on Deuce is not the same as Deuce reciprocating that feeling. Totally different things!

    I think that questioning of where the fault lies in Stalker, the line between self and society, etc. is just so interesting and it pairs really well with the ethical questions that are starting to be brought up with zombies. I may not connect with the story much on an emotional level, but I am definitely hooked on an intellectual level and I can’t wait to get to Horde and see where she’s going to take all those questions! (And especially the zombies. I LOVE THE ZOMBIES.)
    Elizabeth recently posted…Just Like Fate – Cat Patrick and Suzanne YoungMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Yeah, someone had said Aguirre said the series didn’t have a love triangle and I was like “lol whut” but it really is all one-sided thus far. I mean, she did agree to kiss him once, only because it was the fastest way to get what she needed. It’s more like Katniss kissing Peeta to get food and medicine than a romantic thing.

      I started Horde last night, but I’m only about thirty pages into it. Good so far.

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