Middle Grade Review: The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne (Jonathan Stroud)
About This Book:
Action! Humor! Fantasy! "Kicking off a new series with a bang (several bangs, in fact), Stroud sends two young fugitives with murky pasts fleeing murderous pursuers across a fractured future Britain." —Kirkus Reviews, starred
Scarlett McCain is a shoot-first ask-questions-later kind of outlaw. She scrapes by on bank heists, her wits—and never looking back.
She’s on the run from her latest crime when she comes across Albert Browne. He is the sole survivor of a horrific accident, and against her better judgement, Scarlett agrees to guide him to safety.
This is a mistake. Soon there are men with dogs and guns and explosives hot on their heels. Scarlett’s used to being chased by the law, but this is extreme. It was only a little bank she’d robbed . . .
As they flee together across the wilds, fighting off monstrous beasts, and dodging their pursuers, Scarlett comes to realize that Albert Browne is hiding a terrible secret. And that he may be the most dangerous threat of all.
In this fast-paced, quick-witted whirlwind of a story, Jonathan Stroud introduces two unlikely allies—the outlaws Scarlett and Browne—who are about to become the most notorious renegades in all that’s left of Britain.
*Review Contributed by Connie Reid, Site Manager*
Her life gets infinitely more complicated when she comes upon a wrecked bus. The only survivor is Albert Browne, locked in the toilet. He follows her with unflinching faith in her ability to see him safely to the free islands.
The book alludes to a grim past for Scarlett who has experience with the tainted and refuses to live in a town without ever revealing the details. Albert’s story eventually emerges of a life of torture and experimentation at Stonemoor to test his enhanced abilities before he escaped.
Scarlett may act tough but she protects Albert even when turning him in would give her a tidy reward.
They eventually form a friendship that sees them past many challenges and disappointments on their way to the promised lands.
What Left me wanting more: This book has great potential for sequels that I hope come soon! It will be interesting to see if Scarlett ever lets her guard down enough to speak of her past and how she came to possess such fiendishly good thieving skills. Albert may have escaped the clutches of Stonemoor, but there are more unfortunate prisoners and secrets to uncover.
Final Verdict: This book is advertised as 10+ but I would disagree.
The violent situations are plentiful even if they are done with swagger. There is also a fair bit of foreshadowing and hints that completely missed my ten-year-old child’s notice. We loved the humor and swagger, but I think it is better for YA if a child is reading it independently.
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