Outpost by Ann Aguirre

I have been waiting oh so impatiently for Outpost by Ann Aguirre and it’s finally here! Unfortunately, it didn’t completely live up to my expectations but it ended on a very hopeful note that’s reminiscent of the first book.

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.

 I loved the first book in this series, Enclave; I loved that Deuce was so hardcore and her world seemed so desperate. In this novel, Salvation, the settlement they found refuge, has made Deuce, Fade, Stalker, and Tegan soft. There is nothing wrong with it exactly; it just feels like a whole other story. In Salvation, Deuce finds what she refers to as her “girly” side, which bodes well for the romance between her and Fade, but it seems out of place. At one point, they have a formal date night, which was very romantic but shouldn’t they be fighting for their lives? I did love the sexual tension between Deuce and Fade though. There seems to be these fake “happy times” in Salvation filled with community dances and tea parties. Deuce even forms a mother/daughter bond with her “foster” mom, which is sweet, but I find myself thinking where the heck is Deuce the huntress? Never fear readers, she is still there!

There is definitely an inner struggle for Deuce to be a huntress but also a “normal” girl. It added conflict to the story, but I wasn’t sure if it fit entirely. I really enjoyed the parts where she is protecting the town, and Deuce is slaying muties left and right. Aguirre still pens Deuce’s fight scenes with savage beauty and grace. I love watching Deuce fight! Without these fight scenes, this story would turn into too much of a sappy, love story.

Speaking of love, there is a strange connection between Stalker and Deuce. She doesn’t want to lead him on, yet she still responds to him in a romantic way. I didn’t get it. I also had an issue with Fade. Deuce and Fade FINALLY have a breakthrough in their relationship where they put everything out in the open and admit their feelings for each other. I loved this part! However, soon Fade is withdrawing from Deuce for no apparent reason, leaving the reader really confused. There were also bad “things” that happen to Fade while in Salvation and in other parts of the book, and he basically lies down and takes it. What? Fade? The hardcore hunter Fade? It made absolutely no sense. The Fade I know would slit anyone’s throat who tried to hurt him, especially someone from outside his inner circle. It made Fade seem pathetic even though I know he is not. Fade’s continual withdrawal from Deuce (who he supposedly loves) doesn’t make any sense either, especially after making it through dire circumstances. I mean, doesn’t going through something difficult make you want to be closer to the people you love?

Regardless, I’m thinking all these issues turn out to be part of middle book syndrome. Aguirre is creating conflict (however unnecessary) to get us to the (hopefully) really good third installment. There is a ton of foreshadowing; the muties are changing and getting more aggressive and acting more like … humans. I love the way Aguirre ends this novel with the four of them back together, on their own in search of safety. I want to see more of Enclave Deuce in the final book, Horde, which comes out in 2013.

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