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.
Outpost (Razorland #2)Featured
From a plot perspective, Outpost gets quite a bit more interesting, albeit slowly. The gang (Stalker, Fade, Deuce and Tegan) is now living in Salvation, a small walled town where they intentionally live like it’s the colonial era, believing the plague and freaks were a punishment from God for modern sensibilities. First off, I really liked that Aguirre didn’t demonize the people of Salvation; I was expecting a fairly generic cult twist for that town that didn’t happen. Though some of the ideas of Salvation are inherently flawed and upsetting, many of the townspeople show and open-mindedness and kindness that I can’t help but respect.
The most fascinating aspect of the world building lies in the development of the freaks. In Enclave, they were already some of the scariest zombies around, since they move swiftly and showed signs of gaining intelligence. Well, in Outpost, they’re getting so smart that ethical questions might start arising soon. The freaks, though tough, were relatively easy to defeat, because they lacked strategy and cleverness. Now, though, humanity could truly be doomed.
Now, onto the characters. I felt a good deal more connection to the characters in this one, if not on an emotional level. They felt much better fleshed out. My favorite part was the relationship established between Deuce and her host family. Edmund and Momma Oaks treat Deuce like their own daughter, something which annoys and confuses her at first, but which really helps her grow ultimately. She’s never been cared for like that and the experience helps her understand how much her upbringing has affected her.
The romance has been perhaps the most discussed aspect of this series, largely because a number of readers cannot tolerate the idea of Stalker as a love interest, which I get. So far, I can report that he is not a love interest from Deuce’s point of view. There is a love triangle, depending on how you define them, but his interest in her is completely one-sided. Though he wants her, she’s well aware of his flaws.
Though I nursed no grudge, because I, too, was a realist, Stalker would never be my first choice. It wasn’t his fault where he’d been born, or how he’d come up from brat-hood, but that didn’t mean I wanted him as more than a friend.
Stalker’s a really complex character and thus far I like what Aguirre has done with him. In such a dark future, it would be the survival of the fittest and often the cruelest. Stalker, raised as he was, didn’t have too many options. That doesn’t entirely excuse his choices, but he might be redeemable. However, being redeemable doesn’t mean he can be entirely redeemed in the eyes of the people affected by the person that he used to be. There are so many shades of gray in his character and I appreciate Aguirre’s daring there.
At this point, I’m officially on the Deuce-Fade ship, even if it’s not to “I will go down with this ship” levels. For one thing, Deuce and Fade really like each other. They’re also sweet to one another and thoughtful of each other’s needs. They really seem to come together with an awareness of who the other person truly is and without a mind to changing that. What really sold me on this ship actually is when Fade suffers and injury, which results in him questioning whether he’s strong enough to be worthy of her. His mental anguish and self-doubt is so opposed to the way that most heroes are shown in YA, and I really liked that he was capable of showing such weakness to Deuce.
The Final Verdict:
The second book in the Razorland trilogy improves on the start made in Enclave, and leaves the door open for a truly epic, hopefully heartbreaking final installment full of freak mayhem. If you enjoyed Enclave, Outpost is a must read.
The only part of the book I was disappointed in was the love triangle, mainly cause I’m sick of almost every YA book having one. The issues between Deuce and Fade could have been well played out without having Stalker thrown into the mix. However, fortunately, the book doesn’t spend an overly long time on this preferring to focus on the considerable life-threatening events that are going on at the same time.
It was interesting watching Deuce develop beyond her Enclave self, breaking long-held views on male-female interaction and discovering how to develop beyond being just a Huntress. It was also interesting watching how the people of Salvation react to her and her troubles adapting to their long-held views. Some of these were rather predictable, but others were quite surprising. The ending made me want to dive straight into the third and final book, which fortunately, is already out.