Thursday, 11 July 2013
Book: Outside by Shalini Boland
I received a copy of Outside from the author in exchange for a review.
Riley's sister Skye is found dead in the next door neighbor's pool house by their son Luc, the man suspected of murdering her is Ron Chambers, but he escaped. In her grief, Riley convinces Luc to go on a man hunt for Chambers with her, but that involves going outside of the perimeter fence, something she has never done. The perimeter was set up to keep them safe from the unrest in the country following terrorist attacks worldwide. Running parallel is the story of Eleanor, or Ellie as she is sometimes called. Her story is told around the time that the perimeters went up and the terrorist attacks, and resulting controls were implemented, and mainly focuses on her love life. Riley and Luc's adventure takes many turns and results in a twist that changes lives.
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I loved this book! And I'll get the excited it-mentioned-where-I-grew-up speech out of the way first! One of the characters was from Ripon (which for anyone who doesn't know, so basically everyone, Ripon is the smallest city in the UK, its in North Yorkshire near Harrogate, which is near Leeds, and is where Louis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, lived). Unfortunately it is mentioned that Salisbury is the last cathedral in the country, so poor Ripon is no more.
I really enjoyed the opener, and the thread running through the book, of a murder mystery, I haven't seen that kind of story from this genre before, probably because people being killed isn't a massive deal after the apocalypse, and I found it both refreshing and interesting. I liked how the mystery was tied up for the reader at the end, ,and that the prologue and epilogue were tied together, which is something you very rarely see. Though I will admit to being surprised about the culprit for Skye's death.
This book did something that is almost unheard of for me, it surprised me with one of the twists! Not the identity ones, I already had a strong inkling about who Eleanor was, and the part that Chambers played in the story before that was revealed, but the other twist was a complete surprise to me, I actually stared shocked and open mouthed at my kindle after reading!
I really liked the way that Riley and Eleanor's stories ran parallel, it was interesting to see how the perimeter fences went up, and why they went up, the causes behind them. The way that it was done was literally that Eleanor lived a normal teenage life until it happened, and then everything went down hill. In my experience of the speculative fiction genre, you either get the POV of it happening, or the POV of the society after it has happened, not both, and it working this way gave more insights.
You may have picked up that I haven't used the word 'dystopia' yet in my review, that is because I would not describe the book as dystopian overall, though there is a dystopian settlement in Salisbury, which I believe may play a part in the sequel, the Clearing. I will admit to being really freaked out by James Grey's compound, though I am interested to find out more about it and how the society there works (or as is more likely to be the case, doesn't work).
And then of course there is the love story, which is almost a prerequisite to the genre. I didn't find it annoying in Outside at all, I actually thought that Riley and Luc were incredibly cute, and their romance wasn't clear cut either, especially with Riley's murdered sister Skye having had a crush on Luc to complicate matters. Their adventure outside their perimeter brings them closer together and starts to make them realise how they feel, but something that I liked about Riley's monologue was that she not only questioned the rightness with regards to Skye, but she also questioned whether her 'lust' for Luc wasn't just circumstantial, it just felt like a real relationship.
This is definitely one of those gems of a book that you come across by accident! I would recommend Outside to anyone that likes the post-apocalyptic genre!