Zombie, post-apocalyptic and dystopian books are like shoes - you can never have enough.
The Hallowed Ones was one of my surprise reads for 2013 - it kind of snuck under my radar for a while, then I was hesitant to read it, and then I really enjoyed it. I love when a book sneaks up and makes me second guess my initial reactions, and I was definitely looking forward to reading The Outside.
The Outside picks up shortly after the ending of The Hallowed Ones, with Katie, Alex and Ginger travelling north, where they believe their best chance of survival will be in the wilds of Canada. There are brief recaps of what happened in The Hallowed Ones, enough to remind me what had happened, but it's not overdone - the balance is perfect.
The vampires in this series are particularly scary as they use psychological tactics on the human survivors rather than only pure violence which adds another aspect to the storyline as they try and resist the calls of loved ones to join their ranks.
I struggled to love Katie as much in The Outside as I did in The Hallowed Ones. In the first book she is openly rebellious without being bratty, but in The Outside although she is brave and thinks strategically, at times I felt she was almost hiding behind her beliefs. It's admirable that she sticks to them so consistently, but to me it just didn't feel like she was allowed to grow as a character as much as if she had weighed up the pros and cons and made the smart decision. Alex also grated on me a little - he relates a lot of what is happening to mythology and although for the most part it is interesting, at times it felt a little like overkill.
One of my favourite parts of this series is the relationship between Katie and Alex - it's not all smooth sailing, there's no insta-love or unrealistic 'die for you' scenarios - and in fact during large chunks of the book it almost fades into the background as they focus on what they should be focusing on - survival. They also don't let their relationship cloud their judgement on what is the smart thing to do - and although they are realistic in what they can achieve, they are aware of their own limitations, all of which was very refreshing and atypical to some Young Adult dystopian literature.
Although I didn't enjoy The Outside as much as I enjoyed The Hallowed Ones, I think Bickle made some brave choices in taking the story in a different direction than I would have expected, and having realistic relationships and characters that although not perfect, are interesting and stand out from the crowd.