Southern Angelic: Adrienne Kress’ Outcast

I don’t usually review the random YA books I read, as I prefer to keep my trashy-fantasy obsession to myself, but I just couldn’t resist with this one.

Also, Outcast is not trashy, and I’m cool with giving it my seal.

“They come out of the sky and take you.  Everyone knows that.”

So begins Outcast, a sweet, sexy, and immensely readable little YA treat, set in religion-happy small-town southern USA, and starring kick-ass Riley Carver, who might just be my new favorite narrative voice in the genre.

Outcast, Adrienne Kress

Once every year, for the past six years, angels have come out of the sky in Riley’s small town and stolen people into the sky.  They never come back.

Riley has been mourning her best friend (and first kiss), taken the year before, when one of the kidnapping seraphim lands in her front yard.  So she does what any self-respecting modern woman would do under the circumstances: she pulls out her mother’s shotgun and shoots the thing in the face. Except she doesn’t just kill an angel… she transforms him into a hot, naked guy from the 1950s.  What?

The action expands from there, evenly divided between the budding friendship and sexual tension between Riley and Gabe (the hot ex-angel in question), and the mystery of annual angel abductions.  Kress also includes some run-of-the-mill dystopian social commentary into the seams of her story, including, but not limited to, some really spot-on-creepy evangelical priest weirdness, and a haunting by one of Magritte’s lovers.  Right up my alley.

The best part of the book, however, is Riley.  She’s strong, funny, and appealingly weird.  I would have stuck around until the end, just to keep listening to her quirky inner commentary.  In a genre where girls are either pathetic (Twilight), or strong, but downright unpleasant (The Hunger Games), it’s a relief to find a truly lovable female lead.

All in all, Outcast is a sweet little book, appropriate for all ages (adults, too), and a very quick read.  It’s well-written, fast-paced, and damn good fun.

So there.  No trashy YA fantasy here.

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