Series: The Hallowed Ones #2
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers, Houghton Mifflin on September 3, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Horror, Paranormal, Young Adult
Source: Blog Tour, NetGalley
After a plague of vampires was unleashed in the world, Katie was kicked out of the safe haven of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. She enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two friends and a horse by her side.
And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can they be trusted, and are they even people at all?
In this sequel to The Hallowed Ones, it's up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to sacrifice in return?
Today I am the stop on the tour for THE OUTSIDE by Laura Bickle. The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours, and you can visit the rest of the stops here. I have a very long review for ya’ll because I couldn’t stop talking about this book.
One last thing: if you haven’t already read THE HALLOWED ONES, the Kindle version is on sale throughout August for $1.99. That’s a steal!
I first read THE HALLOWED ONES in February 2013. I was blown away by how much I loved the book. I thought mixing Amish and vampires would be a kooky idea, but to my surprise, Laura Bickle did an amazing job. I had a hard time writing a coherent review for THE HALLOWED ONES, because I fangirled pretty hard over the book.
So to say I couldn’t wait to get my hands on THE OUTSIDE is an understatement. I admit, I was a little nervous to start it, and had my usual worries when I read the sequel to an awesome book. Would it be as good as the first? Would it fulfill all my expectations? I’ll assure you now — I had NOTHING to be worried about. Once I started reading THE OUTSIDE, I literally didn’t stop until I finished it. I carried my e-reader everywhere with me, from eating to brushing my teeth, until I flicked the last page.
THE OUTSIDE picks up where THE HALLOWED ONES left off. Katie, Alex, and Ginger were exiled from the Amish community at the end of the first book, and now they’re on the way to Canada, to find Alex’s family. They also hope to find other survivors. But the journey is hard and lonely, leaving them all wondering just who is left in their changed world. Night is the most dangerous time, when the vampires come out to hunt. And these aren’t sparkly vampires. Nope, these vampires are terrifying creatures of evil who have the ability to glamor (charm) their intended victims and one bite is all it takes before you become one of them.
I’m finding it difficult to say a lot about the plot without giving away too much, so I’ll just mention a couple of things that really stood out for me.
One: Katie. I really, really like Katie. She’s definitely one of my favorite characters this year. She’s got a quiet strength I admire, the total opposite of what you might think an Amish girl to be. Katie doesn’t want to be forced to follow rules, but wants to think about those rules and decide for herself that they are the best to follow. She questions herself and her beliefs, wondering just how much she and her morals are changing in the face of an unknown world. And even though her people have turned against her, and shunned her for trying to reveal the truth about the Darkness (vampires), she still wants to save them. My admiration for her just kept notching up throughout the book, and at the end, let me tell you, she has a scene to rival Buffy.
Two: The relationship between Katie and Alex. Usually relationships are one of my least favorite things in a book, but here, I was just melting with how realistic they both were about it. Loving Alex goes against everything Katie was raised to believe, but they rely on each other for survival, and truly do care about each other. I bookmarked several quotes for Katie’s thoughts on the two, but I’ll stick with this one: “We had been thrown together at the end of the world. I didn’t know if we would have cared for each other if we had met in a more usual way. [...] But just for tonight, I told myself to take it for what it was (p. 152, ARC).”
DUDE! How often are a girl and guy thrown together at the end of the world? All the time in dystopian novels! But how often do they acknowledge their attraction may be partly based on that? Not very often!
Three: Different faiths. Katie is Amish. Alex is an anthropology student. Over the course of THE OUTSIDE, they talk about how almost every faith has its own end of the world story. Alex mostly shares the stories and myths, but Katie just doesn’t sit there and listen to him lecture. She puts those stories against her own beliefs, and thinks about it all.
Four: A new explanation for vampirism. This one is a little harder to talk about without spoiling, but I’ll try. Belief in God, symbols of belief, and holy ground are the most potent weapons Katie and Alex have against the vampires. It’s all any of the survivors have, really. When they encounter a pocket of other survivors, they learn about a mostly scientific explanation for both the vampires and a way to fight them. I honestly don’t think I’ve read anything like it before, so kudos to the author for coming up with something original.
Mini thing: Fenrir and Horace! I’ve now read all (I think) of Laura Bickle’s books, and one of my favorite things about her writing is what a good job she does with animals. They’re always so real and characters in their own right. There was a scene where I was thinking, “NO! Don’t hurt Fenrir! Don’t you do it, evil vampire jerk.”
Okay, so I think it’s obvious that I freaking LOVED this book, and that I could go on all day about it. Again, Laura Bickle did an amazing job. With THE OUTSIDE, she delivered a more than worthy conclusion to the story started in THE HALLOWED ONES, and I can’t think of one thing I’d want done differently. The characters are flesh-and-bone real, and the action scenes are nail-biting and full of tension.
THE OUTSIDE is categorized as a young adult book, but I think it’s one that has crossover appeal. Katie and Alex aren’t your typical young adult characters, and they’re both quite mature. I loved that the author didn’t “write down” to her audience.
Together, THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE are on my list of favorites for 2013.
About the author:
Laura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science, and when she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library she’s dreaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs (she also writes contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams).