The Outside follows The Hallowed Ones, a tale of rampant vampirism overtaking the world and even amid the land of the Amish. While The Hallowed Ones was one of my favorite reads so far this year, I was a bit skeptical that its follow-up could be as good. Color me happily surprised and deliriously engaged with the equally eerie sequel, which opens as Amish Katie, her Englisher sort of boyfriend, Alex, and her Englisher friend Ginger are cast into the vampire-filled world Outside, either to live or to die.
First, I'll say that my creeptastic monitor hit a solid ten early on with the appearance of the nasty vampires and the race to find secure ground every day as the night closed in. With just a vague plan to head north to Alex's family, the three outcasts head out, hoping to find food and shelter along the way. Time after time, Katie follows her heart rather than her head, almost getting herself and her friends killed; time after time, her instincts prove her to be correct. Not wanting to give any major plot points away, I will say that eventually a surviving group is encountered that might possibly offer hope for the future, but naturally major obstacles exist. Lots of action, lots of emotion.
It's Katie's struggles between how she was raised and what the world is now that held me glued to the pages; her evolving relationship with Alex rings very true, but it's Katie's growth personally and emotionally that is the heart of the story. I loved the symbolism of the water throughout, and I loved that Katie grew to be someone who decided to take chances, despite of her beliefs. I loved that Katie felt as strongly about animals as she did about humans, and I loved that she was ready to take on forces bigger than herself for what she felt was right. Most of all, I loved the creepy scenarios, with their dark spaces and terrifying moments.
The Outside is the final book of this two book series, and it's a well-written, unique sort of young adult book. Sure, it's post-apocalyptic, but the settings are different and the characters attach themselves to you. Definitely recommended for those with a strong stomach and eager for a good read.