Friday, August 24, 2012
Thrilling Sequel Takes a Bite Out of My Summer!
When Enclave by Ann Aguirre ended, we found Deuce and Fade Topside- aboveground after living underground in the Enclave all their lives. It was a change that sent the series into a completely different direction, and it injected more surprises and excitement into Outpost than you can imagine!
Deuce, Fade, Tegan, and Stalker were taken in by the people of Sanctuary, but they certainly weren't accepted by everyone immediately. Given to different foster parents, they found themselves suddenly immersed in a society that had survived within tall walls and relatively removed from the Freaks who roamed the countryside. They almost never came face to face with the Freaks, animal-like humanoids with terrifying teeth and claws, and they certainly couldn't defend themselves against them. Deuce and the others were well-trained in Freak combat, but Sanctuary saw them as children, not the lethal hunters they actually were. Forced to go to school and act like proper boys and girls, Deuce and the others struggle to fit into Sanctuary.
When the crops are destroyed by the Freaks, it becomes clear they are no longer mindless roaming monsters with no intellect. After a couple of calculated attacks, Sanctuary is forced to acknowledge that the Freaks are getting smarter and Sanctuary is in danger. When Deuce, Fade, and Stalker offer to set up an outpost to protect the crops, the rest of the town is shamed into sending adults with them. Leaving the walls is terrifying for the people of Sanctuary, but so is starving through the winter with no crops to eat. Once they establish the outpost, however, it becomes clear the situation with the Freaks has escalated to a point that leaves Sanctuary vulnerable. But if the only people willing to do anything about it are the outsiders, how will Sanctuary survive this new threat?
I know it is difficult, sometimes, when a series takes a whole new spin, like Enclave did by throwing the kids Topside, but when done well, it can transform a series and make the sequel just as exciting as the original novel. That was certainly the case with Outpost, which extended the first story, but gave this book a whole new purpose all its own. I thought it was brilliant on Aguirre's part to do so, and it made me just as thrilled for the third book to come. We also get to see a whole new side of the characters we loved from the first book. Most transformative for me was the path Deuce traveled. Having never had a family in the Enclave, she couldn't get used to Momma Oaks, her foster mother. But when it became clear Momma Oaks really loved her, allowing herself to be the child of caring parents was an experience that made Deuce want to save Sanctuary. There were also times when you saw the ugly side of Sanctuary, which was very realistic for any community living so close together, and it made me like and believe the story even more.
I really liked this sequel, and I think Aguirre did a great job of keeping a story going without just repeating what worked in the first book (a common mistake). The journey these characters traveled not only changed them, it changes you as a reader. You see them differently and cannot help but transform with them. The story was exciting and terrifying at times, but it keeps you wondering what is going to happen next. You will want to protect these kids, but you will also be proud of their bravery, even when the adults from Sanctuary are unwilling to take the same risks to save their own home. This was a fantastic follow-up, and I am dying to get ahold of the next book!