BWW Review: THE OUTLIERS by Kimberly McCreight
"Sometimes, it feels like he's trying to rebuild our lives out of matchsticks. And I do love him for that. But loving someone isn't the same thing as understanding them."
Kimberly McCreight's books first came to my attention when her novel RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA came out and was lauded as being "For Fans of GONE GIRL." I'd read GONE GIRL and wanted to read more books in the psychological thriller genre, which had begun to boom. I'd heard really incredible things, and so I picked it up. I struggled with RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA, but not because of the writing. This was one of the books I read in a short timespan written through letters, texts, emails, etc. I discovered that I'm not a fan of epistolary novels and THAT'S why I keep struggling with books when they're full of them. So it had NOTHING to do with Kimberly McCreight and everything to do with ME. When I was told that McCreight was coming out with a new novel--and that it was a YA thriller, no less, I was onboard to give her another try. This time around, I had much better luck!
The novel revolves around Wylie, a girl who is all sorts of messed up. Her mother died in a horrible car accident and she hasn't been dealing well. Both her twin brother Gideon and her scientist father seems to be recovering better. Wylie and her mother have always been more emotional to begin with, and Wylie now has full-on agoraphobia. She can't even leave her house to get the mail. On top of that, shortly after the accident, she had a major falling out with Cassie, her former best friend. Now Wylie is alone, even though her father and her therapist are both pressuring her to return to school. Homeschooling was only supposed to be temporary; instead, it's given Wylie a crutch to never leave the house. When Cassie goes missing and sends Wylie a text message for help, Wylie has to summon up the courage to first leave the comfort of her house, then to get into a human-killing car, and then track down her friend...but she has no clue of the danger that's in store for either of them.
THE OUTLIERS does a good job throwing readers into the mystery alongside Wylie. There is some messed up stuff going on, and she's in WAY over her head. The book also starts to answer a few questions--while at the same time handing readers even MORE questions. Do we have true answers at the end of book one? Do we have more lies due to the multiple webs of deceit still clinging to the pages? Who can we trust? We don't know, and neither does Wylie!
I also like the relationship dynamics at play in THE OUTLIERS. While we don't see Wylie's brother Gideon as much, I hope he'll have a bigger role later on. Especially because he's a TWIN, and maybe it's the Sweet Valley Effect, but I've always liked books with twins. Wylie also has a really interesting relationship with her father, and I hope to see that expand more in future books as well. I like when parents are present in YA--especially fathers. We don't see it enough! The novel also focuses on the fallout of a friendship. Your heart doesn't always break when you end a romantic relationship. People don't think about it, but your heart definitely breaks when you lose a best friend, especially one you've had for several years. A lot of readers will be able to emphasize with Wylie and the heartache she's going through. We change and evolve so much in our teenage years, and so do our friends. We don't come out at the end the same people we were in the beginning.
Wylie and Cassie have diverging paths, but they are still able to rely on one another in times of need. I love that angle. The other really interesting relationship in the book stems from Jasper. Jasper is Cassie's boyfriend, but they've been on the outs lately. Cassie texts Jasper the same cryptic pleas for help that she sends Wylie, and the two must band together to find their friend. Wylie has never liked or trusted Jasper, and Jasper doesn't really know Wylie outside of what Cassie has told him about her. I can't wait to see the way Jasper grows as a presence in future books.
THE OUTLIERS ends on a massive cliffhanger, but thankfully, you don't have to wait a year to read THE SCATTERING, which released earlier this month. just came out, when it comes out next spring. Look for my review of this exciting sequel later this week!
THE OUTLIERS by Kimberly McCreight was published on May 3, 2016 by HarperCollins.