Into the Outside

When the mutants' survival is threatened, will Isabella risk it all for the man she hardly knows or stay underground protected?

Fifty years after the Earth died only oddly altered wildlife and a handful of mutants live Outside. Below ground survivors wait. 16-year-old Isabella thinks mutants are sub-human cannibals until a chance encounter with 17-year-old mutant tribe leader Malcolm. His ebony skin, straw-colored hair, rippling muscles, mismatched number of fingers captivate her. Night after night she sneaks out of her shelter to be with him. Isabella must choose between the safety of the shelter that is her entire world and facing the dangers Outside if she is to save the mutants and the man she loves from extermination.

 

Genre

YA Dystopian SciFi

Critic Evaluation

Cover Design Score: 10

The images serve well as a literal interpretation of the journey taken throughout the novel. The city in the background is layered in shadow, hinting at unease. The buildings are tall and ominous, but far enough away so that they are not completely identifiable. Within the forest lays the path that our characters will march through into unknown territory. 

Book Blurb Score: 10

The blurb does well with balancing between exposition and intrigue. The reader is given enough information to grasp the world they are about to enter, but is not overexposed to any details that would ruin the plot or prevent the story from progressing naturally. 

Formatting Score: 6

I think that, rather than the beginning sequences that divide between Isabella and Malcom, that the story should begin only through Isabella's perspective, changing only when Luke's character becomes integral to the plot. That way we can learn more about the world as she does through him, rather than begin the story knowing already all that he knows. This will cut some exposition, and allow for a more natural progression. 

Grammar & Spelling Score: 10

The grammar is simple but used well. There were no real hiccups in spelling.

Plot & Structure Score: 6

The beginning chapters read more as exposition than developed scenes  -- especially regarding the character Isabella and her family. We are "told" how the world came to be very early on in the story, as well as who the family is and how they survive. The story would be much stronger if they started Isabella's story from the moment they find the tribe, using dialogue to describe that they believe mutants are in the pool. Using that to plot the foundation of the story could help build the world. Then, rather than using exposition, they could disclose more information about how the world came to this destruction in proceeding chapters. 

Character Development Score: 8

From early on it is clear that Isabella's goal is to explore the world. She is curious, and Malcom represents the world she spent her life wondering after. This is a strong foundation. However, when she leaves her life to be with him, she immediately accepts that she is not "free" by any means, and might still need to breed (something she was disgusted by earlier) It would be much more interesting for her character to be upset, the way that Kalla is upset, and eventually come to terms with the change. The change in her opinion of how she was raised also feels abrupt.  
Malcom's draw to Isabella is not so clear. He says that he cannot help but feel compelled by her, but gives no indication as to why. It would also add conflict if he is initially upset that Isabella decided to come with them, arguing that she will likely die. 
     Luke originally appears to be in line to become a villain in the story. However, it is refreshing that he instead has a journey of his own that is dynamic and works well with the corresponding chapters. He is the most fully fleshed out of the story's leads, and became my favorite character. He has a lot of heart, and clear intentions. Flesh out the other characters in the same way, and the story will have much success. 

Originality Score: 9

The mutations are unique, and the author has developed a world that realistically responds to the mutations. The aging process of those affected is very interesting, and I would like to see more of Isabella's reactions to knowing these people she loves will most likely die long before she does. I love the allusions to Abraham Lincoln, as well as past and current prejudices in regard to how mutants are treated. This story reads as an allegory, often teetering between the distant future, and our current circumstances. 

Pacing Score: 5

The beginning feels rushed through. Certain moments that should be drawn out are given the same treatment as other less important For example, when Isabella takes her first steps outside, that is supposedly a moment she had spent years waiting for. I think her awe and fear, compared to the isolation of the earlier chapters, needs to be palpable. When she and Malcom go to save Shia, and for a moment the little girl is not breathing, the reader should be wondering whether or not the girl will die. However, the issue is resolved in a single paragraph. In the end, when the characters are faced with death, it seems the authors had better found their footing. Time is better paced as the story reaches its climax. 

Use of Language Score: 6

The characters have a very colorful vocabulary, and often speak in very proper English. The narrator explains that various tribes have regional dialects, but there is not a solid line between what the tribe understands and does not (for example Malcom did not recognize any words regarding American history, but uses other words that would be difficult to comprehend.) Because no one has had a formal education in some time, I think there should be some detail about what was taught in the following generations and what was not. At times there are anachronisms that are distracting, but for the most part the authors stay true to their intentions. 

Overall Readability Score: 8

"Into The Outside" is an easy read. I suggest the authors create "character bibles," for each important character so that they can more organically interact with each other and therefore read as stronger protagonists. This would also help with pacing issues, as the characters would react naturally to circumstances. These adjustments would help develop an already compelling premise. I believe this story could eventually do well in the Young Adult circuit. 

This book received a critic's score of 78 out of 100 possible points.

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