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.
**Warning: may contain spoilers for Enclave**
So after reading/reviewing/enjoying Enclave earlier this year (link to my review here) I jumped at the chance to get my hands on the ARC of Outpost and catch up on the further adventures of Deuce & Fade (and to a lesser extent, Stalker and Teagan). This book was somewhat different for me than the first in the series, because I “read” Enclave via an audiobook. To be honest, I think I preferred the audio version. It made what was going on seem to have more impact or something. But the print version is good as well.
When I’m reading books that are part of a trilogy I usually like to re-read the previous book just so that I can refresh myself on what’s going on, but with this one I just didn’t have time. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t remember exactly what was going on – and I was a little fuzzy about some stuff – but most of the big stuff came right back via little reminders or references. I didn’t feel lost or anything.
Outpost picks up a while after Enclave ends, and the characters are fairly entrenched in life in Salvation. Which, frankly, sounds like it pretty much sucks. It reminded me a little of Puritan America, where women are expected to stay in certain roles, wear dresses, cook, clean, and take care of the delicate menfolk. Needless to say, Deuce is not buying into this way of life and sets about trying to get herself a spot on the patrols. Once this actually happens is when the story really kicks in.
I was surprised to find that the ante actually was upped in this story. Not that I don’t believe marketing blurbs (because they always tell the truth!) but there is actually quite a bit more zombie action in the book than I thought that there would be, and the Freaks themselves are taken in an interesting direction. A chancy one because it could have been ridiculous if not done well, but it was done pretty well.
In terms of the characters, Deuce is pretty much Deuce. I realize that sounds kind of vague but if you’ve read the first book you know exactly what I mean. That said, she does do quite a bit of growing in this book in terms of her emotions and realizing what is and isn’t important. Fade spends the beginning of the book being kind of a dick and I didn’t necessarily like that, but it’s all explained why he’s acting the way he is. Teagan is still pretty much the same, a fringe character. As far as Stalker goes…I have such a strange relationship with this particular fictional character. I feel like he’s written in a way that you’re supposed to kinda sorta be rooting for him, but I just can’t. And I still don’t understand Deuce’s friendship with him. I get that she’s very pragmatic and that she accepts that the circumstances of his life shaped his actions, but he abducted and planned to rape her. He did rape Teagan as well as who knows how many other women. Sorry, can’t get behind him. I can understand his actions but I’ll never like him as a character, and if he and Deuce ever end up getting together it’s very likely that I will flip whatever table I happen to be sitting at while reading.
I read this through in one straight sitting, partly because it was good and partly because I was on a plane. Mostly because it was good. I think I might have liked Enclave just a tiny bit better, but this is still well worth reading and doesn’t really suffer from that “second book in a trilogy” blandness that so many books do. Things actually happen. And the ending went out on a good note that makes me really curious to see what happens in the next book.