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Title: Outcast
Author: Aileen Fish
Rating: 2/5

Warning: review might contain slight spoilers.

First off, let me start with the synopsis (copied from Goodreads): “When the world collapses, the only person who comes looking for Niki Mathers is the loser who made fun of her in high school. JC Phillips saves her life, so she can’t really tell him to get lost. And he is keeping her from being alone at the end of the world…

JC will never forgive himself for choices he made the night before the earthquake. Rescuing the girl he’s been crushing on for the past year doesn’t bring atonement. Maybe making the world safe for Niki will take away his guilt. The world they know is dying. All they want is to find their place in it before it does.”

Now, let me write my own version of the synopsis: this Young Adult novel begins when Niki’s apartment crumbles after a quake and she is immediately found by JC Philips. Within the next few chapters she switches between chewing him out and kissing him while they stumble from one place to another, trying to find stability in an apocalyptic world. Thankfully, they each develop supernatural powers in this terrible time to help them through the crisis.

I think what ticked me off was how the book’s synopsis led me away from what the book actually was. If I had known that this book had visions of dead people, aliens from other planets, and a protagonist and two supporting characters with suddenly-developed superpowers, then I wouldn’t have picked it up. The synopsis is literally the first chapter or two of the entire novel. I expected a lot of angst and struggle and a slow progression of love, if you will… But it all came too abruptly for my taste. Even the relationship was rushed, developing all of a sudden and becoming very emotionally charged much too rapidly.

However, I found the concept of Aileen Fish’s end of the world really nice. It’s the book’s saving grace. I appreciated that it wasn’t, all of a sudden, the total end of the world. The synopsis seems to imply that Niki and JC are alone in the world, but what the synopsis means is that their family is not with them (I won’t spoil anything here!). They are followed by Antwon, a friend of JC’s, and there are many refugees and survivors out there, so don’t expect a “Niki and JC against the elements” type of novel. I liked that the authorities and stores got together and helped the survivors – there isn’t as much crime and extreme panic as your typical apocalypse novel. I absolutely loved the part where JC and Niki work in the refugee camp. That was well-thought of and very realistic, which counters the fantasy feeling of perpetual earthquakes and creates a lovely balance for the middle part of the book.

A big problem in the novel is the utter lack of time management. At one point, a character claims that electricity should’ve been brought back months ago, and my reading stopped completely. To me, all these had happened within the span of a few days, a month at most… I wish the author had worked a bit more to create a timeline of events in her prose so the readers could follow along.

JC and Niki were fine characters. I really liked JC; Niki was average. I have nothing great to say or nothing bad to say. I was ready to move on from them at the end of the book; I’m not really interested in knowing what happens after the strangeness of the last few chapters. The book does foreshadow that conclusion, but it wasn’t an ending I would’ve chosen for it at all.

To be honest, unless the book (especially the synopsis!) goes under revision, I wouldn’t recommend this book. I doubt I’ll keep reading into the series. Overall, it wasn’t a terrible story, but the above reasons just made it forgettable to me.

I would like to thank Aspendawn Books, as well as Netgalley, for the free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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