{Review/Giveaway} THE OUTLIERS by Kimberly McCreight

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O P E N I N G   H O O K:

    WHY ARE THE BAD THINGS always so much easier to believe? It shouldn't be that way. But it is, every single time. You're too sensitive and too worried, they say. You care too much about all the wrong things. One little whisper in your ear and the words tumble through your head like you're the one who thought them first. Hear them enough and pretty soon they're etched on the surface of your heart.
    But right now, I've got to forget all the ways I've come to accept that I am broken. As I sit here in this cold, dark room, deep in the pitch-black woods, staring into this lying stranger's eyes, I need to think the opposite about myself. I need to believe that I am a person I have never known myself to be. That in my deepest, darkest, most useless corners lies a secret. One that just might end up being the thing that saves me. That saves us.
    Because there is a lot that I still don't understand about what's going on. So much, actually. But I do know this: despite all the fear in this woman's eyes, we need to convince her to help us. Because our lives depend on it. And on us getting out that door.

(Page 1, US hardcover edition)

“Sometimes, it feels like he’s trying to rebuild our lives out of matchsticks. And I do love him for that. But loving someone isn’t the same thing as understanding them.” 


Kimberly McCreight's books first came to my attention when her novel RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA came out and was lauded as being "For Fans of GONE GIRL." I'd read GONE GIRL and wanted to read more books in the psychological thriller genre, which had begun to boom. I'd heard really incredible things, and so I picked it up. I struggled with RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA, but not because of the writing. This was one of the books I read in a short timespan written through letters, texts, emails, etc. I discovered that I'm not a fan of epistolary novels and THAT'S why I keep struggling with books when they're full of them. So it had NOTHING to do with Kimberly McCreight and everything to do with ME. When I was told that McCreight was coming out with a new novel--and that it was a YA thriller, no less, I was onboard to give her another try. This time around, I had much better luck!

Granted, it still took me a few months to pick this one up. I loaned it to a co-worker to read first (We swap books in this sub-genre and tell one another about new titles constantly) and she had flipped out at the ending. We discovered that THE OUTLIERS was the first in a trilogy and knowing that a cliffhanger was in my future, I was scared. So I put it off until now and, in part, created Got A Clue? Week because this was one of the books I wanted to finally read and review!

The novel revolves around Wylie, a girl who is all sorts of messed up. Her mother died in a horrible car accident and she hasn't been dealing well. Both her twin brother Gideon and her scientist father seems to be recovering better. Wylie and her mother have always been more emotional to begin with, and Wylie now has full on agoraphobia. She can't even leave her house to get the mail. On top of that, shortly after the accident, she had a major falling out with Cassie, her former best friend. Now Wylie is alone, even though her father and her therapist are both pressuring her to return to school. Homeschooling was only supposed to be temporary; instead, it's given Wylie a crutch to never leave the house. When Cassie goes missing and sends Wylie a text message for help, Wylie has to summon up the courage to first leave the comfort of her house, then to get into a human-killing car, and then track down her friend...but she has no clue of the danger that's in store for either of them.

THE OUTLIERS does a good job throwing readers into the mystery alongside Wylie. There is some messed up stuff going on, and she's in WAY over her head. The book also starts to answer a few questions--while at the same time handing readers even MORE questions. Do we have true answers at the end of book one? Do we have more lies due to the multiple webs of deceit still clinging to the pages? Who can we trust? We don't know, and neither does Wylie!

I also like the relationship dynamics at play in THE OUTLIERS. While we don't see Wylie's brother Gideon as much, I hope he'll have a bigger role later on. Especially because he's a TWIN, and maybe it's the Sweet Valley Effect, but I've always liked books with twins. Wylie also has a really interesting relationship with her father, and I hope to see that expand more in future books as well. I like when parents are present in YA--especially fathers. We don't see it enough! The novel also focuses on the fallout of a friendship. Your heart doesn't always break when you end a romantic relationship. It also breaks when you lose a best friend, especially one you've had for several years. A lot of readers will be able to emphasize with Wylie and the heartache she's going through. We change and evolve so much in our teenage years, and so do our friends. We don't come out at the end the same people we were in the beginning. Wylie and Cassie have diverging paths, but they are still able to rely on one another in times of need. I love that angle. The other really interesting relationship in the book stems from Jasper. Jasper is Cassie's boyfriend, but they've been on the outs lately. Cassie texts Jasper the same cryptic pleas for help that she sends Wylie, and the two must band together to find their friend. Wylie has never liked or trusted Jasper, and Jasper doesn't really know Wylie outside of what Cassie has told him about her. I can't wait to see the way Jasper grows as a presence in future books.

Thankfully, by waiting to read THE OUTLIERS, I don't have to wait nearly as long to pick up the sequel, THE SCATTERING, when it comes out next spring. I definitely need to keep reading this trilogy to see what happens next!

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: --
Language: PG 13 ( General words such as "shit" as well as some f-bombs )
Violence:  PG13 ( A choking scene, a scene with a gun, another scene that's spoilery to even mention here but invokes quite the image! )
Other:  PG13 References to underage drinking and drug use. References to a character who may have slept with a lot of girls. Getting in a car with a stranger. the treatment of agoraphobia, recovering from a mother's death. )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I really like the way the title looks like its burning and the "i" in the title looks like a lit match. 

On first glance, there isn't much special about this cover apart from the title treatment--which I didn't notice until after I'd finished reading, actually--but it actually depicts something from the book, so I think it did a great job pulling that out!

(Um, plus the matches come up just in story context. I mean, did you see the quote I pulled from the book at the top of the review!? ^.~)
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Kimberly McCreight
Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Received: For Review

It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. 

Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself. 

This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice: she has to ignore her gut instinct and go with him. 

But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?


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