Saturday, October 6, 2012

Book Review: Outpost by Ann Aguirre

Outpost by Ann Aguirre
#2 in the Razorland series
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 336
Received: ARC from publisher
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Page

WARNING! This is a review for book 2 in a series and there ARE spoilers for book 1 in this review!
Haven't started the series yet? Read my review of book 1 instead!


From Goodreads:

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 expectations killed this book for me

I'm a little whiney about Outpost. On one hand, it was a good, solid book with a decent balance of action and introspection (though, for me, there was a little too much introspection and other stuff and not nearly enough action, but you know me and action).

Ann Aguirre continues to expand Deuce's character and I loved following along as she discovered what it means to have a family. I was even reminded a little of Anne of Green Gables with all the adoptive-parents-dote-on-and-love-adopted-daughter scenes. It was all very sweet and I might have even aw-ed out loud once or twice.

But I didn't want sweet! I wanted ACTION. I wanted to see Deuce and Fade fight back to back and slaughter scary hordes of freaks. This did happen, just not as much as I wanted and not nearly as much as it did in Enclave.

I was especially frustrated with all the time spent on Deuce's repetitive inner-monologues on how she doesn't fit into the society because they expect her to wear a dress and do women's work. Yes, yes, Deuce is a huntress, she's good at killing things, she doesn't do tea parties, I GET IT! I find this particular plot device boring to begin with, so I really had no tolerance for Deuce repeating her complaints OVER AND OVER.

The worst thing though was that it takes almost the entire book for the characters to come to the conclusion that the freaks are getting smarter and are not what they originally seemed. I'm all about gathering facts and making a case to support a plot point, but the problem here is we already know this! Deuce had already pretty much figured this out by the end of Enclave, so the book-long rehash felt like a serious case of series stretching and I was NOT pleased.

It's like opposite day!

I LOVED Fade in Enclave, but my gosh, he turned into such a sissy in Outpost. He's going through a lot of emotional things and Ann Aguirre used him like her fictional punching bag, piling up bad experience after bad experience onto the poor guy. So, yeah, I feel bad for him. But that doesn't mean I'm going to give him a pass for his annoying moping. He totally turned inward and shut everyone out, so I'm really having a hard time connecting with him on any level. He'd better get his act together in the third book or I'm completely recinding all my book boyfriend thoughts.

Stalker was a creepy rapist in Enclave and though he's stopped his raping ways in Outpost, rape isn't really something you can do a takebacksies on. Deuce even mulled over some totally lame reasons for why she should wipe the slate clean for him and I wanted to tear my hair out at her illogical analogies and the excuses she came up with (he didn't know any better! He needed to do it because otherwise someone else would do it and be even worse!).

But...Stalker was kind of a lot more crushable than Fade. I mean, putting aside his past, his present self is loyal, steadfast, resourceful, and totally swoony. He's more of an alpha guy, but he doesn't dominate Deuce either. He seems to love her because she's so capable and he sees her as an equal. Pretty great, right? Except for the whole raping thing. Yeah. I spent a good part of the book swooning and then feeling really, really WRONG.

Teagan loses all her previous points. Her characterization felt squishy and inconsistent to me, which made her do things in one scene that didn't make any sense in the context of the next scene.

Deuce is still awesome. She's a skilled fighter motivated by the desire to protect those she loves. She confronts issues head on, even when they're uncomfortable to face. She's a little weird due to her totally messed up childhood, but she's amazingly rational. This all makes her one of the most fascinating characters I've read about.

A note on the new characters

I LOVE Deuce's adoptive parents and new friend with all my heart! Her friend even reminded me a little of Lee Scoresby from the His Dark Materials trilogy.

Read the author's note

There were two plot points that totally bugged me and made me think a lot less of the book, until I read the author's note. That cleared a lot of things up for me and I'm happy now. So read it.

Who is this book for?

When Enclave first came out two guys at my library came in looking for The Hunger Games, but, of course, all our copies were out. Never to let someone leave the library empty handed, I offered them Enclave and pitched it as a book about "killing lots of zombies." They grabbed it, loved it, and have been counting down the days for Outpost ever since.

But I don't think they're going to be very happy with Outpost. It's a LOT more girly with more time spent on feelings than action. The freak slaying is minimal and isn't the focal point of the plot. It happens, and it's brutally awesome, but I'm not sure the limited page time is enough to keep guy readers engaged.

Bottom line

Outpost is a solid book that I did enjoy reading, but I can't help feeling frustrated with what seems to me like a bad case of series stretching. I feel like I'm at the exact same place I left off at the end of Enclave: the freaks are getting smarter and might very possibly overwhelm our heroes.

And while this makes me pretty darn excited for book three, I shouldn't really be feeling this way again. Outpost feels like a digression, and while it was nice and I really did appreciate the exploration of Deuce's character, it's still a digression and I'm still disappointed.

I hope the third book Horde is great, but I'm a little more cautious now. 

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Outpost that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!


  1. Hmm. I don't think I've heard of this series. I don't usuaully read horror-esque books, but I just might go check out the first one...

    1. It's a lot of fun! Deuce is a very unique character and while she's very different from me, I'm always fascinated by the way she approaches things.

  2. Hmm. What you pointed out in this book reminds me of similar issues I had with the second book in Aguirre's Sirantha Jax series. I wonder if it's a second book thing. (For the record, I haven't read the third book in the SJ series, so I don't know if it improves or not.) I definitely still want to read Outpost, but I think I'll lower my expectations a bit. And read the author's note.

    1. Hm, interesting! I'd say more shift your expectations instead of lowering them. This is a good book, it's just very different from what I was expecting (hoping) to get.

  3. I think we need to start a support group for Conflicted (and Guilty) Stalker Enthusiasts. And I like the way you articulated Deuce's obsession with not fitting in in Salvation. THe only thing that helped was that she didn't just sit around and complain. She volunteered when she could, but it would have been nice if her internal dialog had been as proactive--something like, "They may not understand what it means to me to be a Huntress, so I will show them." Which--again--is what her actions told us, if not her constant whining.


    1. Ha, yes, I totally need that support group. Good point about Deuce. I do like that's she's not a sit around and complainer. She definitely isn't one to outwardly wallow, and I do very much appreciate that about her.

      Ugh, Fade. I just, I have no words.

  4. Innnnteresting! I'm intrigued...and my expectations are lowered slightly. I wasn't expecting it to be brilliant, and I'm definitely still excited. I'll just be...wary. I hope I like it!

    1. Actually, I think you might like it. I can definitely see you appreciating all the family focus. It made me want to hug people it was so sweet. Especially the scene with the shoes.

  5. Aww, too bad this wasn't as awesome as you hoped to be.
    I didn't read the first book so I don't know about the particulars but I know what you mean about it being a more girly book.

    It's a great review anyway.

    1. Thank you! I wish someone else had read the book first so they could have told me how to adjust my expectations. I think that would have made things a *little* better.

  6. This is sad. I really enjoyed enclave and had high hopes for outpost, but I guess now I'll go into it with a little more eh.

    1. Less eh, but also not an expectation for the crazy cool action of the first book. It's good, it's just...different.

  7. THIS. "Stalker was a creepy rapist in Enclave and though he's stopped his raping ways in Outpost, rape isn't really something you can do a takebacksies on."

    Is why I love you.

  8. I was really looking forward to this book but felt completely let down :( I thought it was really boring and the Deuce/Stalker relationship made me want to throw the book into a river. I don't think I'll bother reading the third book, because I'm really not interested in the love triangle or a brooding Fade.

    Awesome review though, as always :)


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