It’s not easy to write a book that not only addresses current issues but also entertains. J.S. Frankel, however, has done exactly that with Outcasts.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. I will always give you my honest opinion on something before linking to it.
From the back cover: Mitch Kessler, teenage high school dropout, jobless and mostly friendless, lives a life of solitude, but not by choice. Endowed with the ability to bring wings out of his body as well as claws, and transform himself into a fierce creature of the night, he’s picked up a nickname from the general public that he hates: gargoyle. However, that’s the least of his worries. His girlfriend, Callie, can’t keep her genders straight, his best friend is a spinning top, and his other acquaintance is made of rock. It’s obviously a government plot, but Mitch doesn’t know who’s behind it or why. Worse, various and sundry creations have now appeared out of the woodwork and are out to kill him. Aided by his friends, the four outcasts attempt to find out who’s running the show. They’re out to stop the forces of evil before they can do more damage. That is, if they survive.
As teen mutants who have yet to figure out their place in the world, the main characters go through quite a bit. They deal with typical teen issues, which are compounded by the fact that they have superpowers. To make matters even more difficult, the main character finds himself falling for a person who constantly switches genders. The gender issue is a big one these days, and I think this makes the book very relevant to today’s youth. There is gender and sexuality confusion not only for the Callie, who is sometimes a boy and sometimes a girl, but also for Mitch, who has to figure out how he feels about him/her.
The book starts off with action, and we slowly learn more and more over time about Mitch and his friends. The time frames switch back and forth between the present and the past, but these are clearly labeled to avoid confusion. Outcasts has a casual tone that I think YA readers would really enjoy:
“Screw getting the football back. We trudged on home. Joe lived ten minutes away from me, very convenient for hanging out with each other. Fact was, we visited each other’s houses on an almost daily occurrence, either playing sports after school or fooling around with video games.”
While there are some sentence structure choices that are a little bit awkward and I feel the book could have been better edited, overall I think this is a great book. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys modern fantasy and is looking for a fun read.
Rating: 4 stars
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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University. Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective. Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous. Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.
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