The Outside by Laura Bickle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
So, yeah, we were out of sparkly vampires at the store, but as we traveled through Pennsylvania we saw these really cute bonnets walking around, and WOULD YOU KNOW IT? They were all lit up inside and sparkly, so I thought to myself, what an interesting light display! So when I got closer, a few men with military grade hardware came out of nowhere and started threatening poor little me. I kept asking, "What is it, what is it?" And they just told me to mind my own business.
I grabbed a beer down the road and fortunately, some really drunk locals told me that they were the AMISH. I was shocked. No sparkly vampires anywhere? They said no. Apparently the genre ran out of ideas for vampire fiction, thought throwing the Amish into the mix would be AWESOME, but instead of thinking up something original, it just reverse-engineered the sparkly bit with a bit of science mixed with Handwavium and turned people into glowsticks that frighten little children and vampires alike.
I said to my new friends, "Oh, Thank God. I thought for a moment that some radioactive spider had bit the cows and now the whole community had gone Super Cheese."
They reassured me. They also prayed for me because of my blasphemy.
I'd like to say that this was a super corny and funny B-Movie that me and I my friends could heckle over copious quantities of alcohol, but the novel takes itself too seriously. I was amazed at the amount of mythology research that was expositioned at me. I like classic mythology, of course. I like it when there are intelligent characters that can incorporate the classics into any conversation, or at least when they do it wittily. I especially like it when mythology is submerged into the text so no one absolutely has to focus on it just because its there. You know, like having the choice to read a novel for its subtexts? Or how about when religion is pushed upon an unsuspecting reader for the sole purpose of converting them? Same thing. I can enjoy either when they don't go all didactic on me.
Unfortunately, both the myth classics and uber-christianity (Or at least a handful of different faiths, with discussion,) were the primary focus in this by-the-books vampire explosion novel. Don't get me wrong. I like anything that improves my knowledge of anything, and I love diving into religion and myth. But to be honest, I don't think it belonged here.
Religion was set up to be equally powerful against the vamps as science, and the two had a nice long discussion throughout the novel as to which would do better in the apocalypse. The problem is, it's obvious that this is social commentary, and it's not buried deeply. We know that the author is sitting dab-center of the argument and doesn't want to commit to either science or religion. She gives us portents and signs and lab results. Magic versus Reason. And all the while, she makes it feel like both are equally valid, and maybe they are, but the discussion is too complex and interesting to be surfaced to death in a novel about happy shiny people and the undead.
"But," you say, "It's a YA, and we can't expect children to go that deep into the thinking!"
And I say, "Bullshit. Anyone who believes that kids don't eventually get *everything* eventually are idiots. Telling someone to sit in the middle of the road and have faith in both sides of the argument is just as bad as going religious nutso or an asshole atheist. That isn't to say that there are no balances that can be had, but no one is going to come out of this novel thinking that they had a great revelation."
Was I entertained with the novel? Meh, middling. It wasn't a horrible read. I still think, as with my previous review for book one, that it would have been served SO much better with a bit more creativity. Sure. Glow=Immunity. Odd and believable if you squint real hard and shut down your nervous system and stop yourself before you ask questions like, "So if I'm radiating enough light to scare the vamps, does that mean I'm full spectrum? Can I help my friends up north as winter sets in to prevent an onset of Seasonal Affect Disorder?" or, "Can I harness myself to charge my Ipad? Make myself a solar panel coffin and sleep nude to charge all the batteries in my house?"
It is, after all, the apocalypse, and infrastructure is probably a distant memory. How else am I going to read my ebooks?
Ah, well, welcome home, wayward daughter. You look well from your little journey outside our community. What is that glow about you?
It's ok. Wouldn't really recommend it to anyone, though, unless they haven't read much of anything or just want a direct cure for Twilight.
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