Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Outpost

Outpost

Ann Aguirre
Fiction
For ages 14 and up
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Emily Bauer
Macmillan Young Listeners, 2012   ISBN: 978-1427226273

Deuce and her friends Fade, Stalker, and Tegan are now living in an outpost called Salvation. The young people have all been adopted by families, and they are enjoying the novelty of being able to live behind stout walls that the Freaks cannot breach. In addition to being able to live in safety, there is plenty of food to go around and the people of Salvation even have a school, which Deuce has to attend, much to her disgust. Having grown up in the Enclave underground where resources were few and where survival was not guaranteed, Deuce thinks the people at Salvation have grown soft. She is also infuriated by the rules that they have about how a girl should behave and dress. Why should she have to waste her time learning how to sew with her foster mother when she is a Huntress, a skilled fighter who has killed dozens of Freaks? They should recognize her skills and make use of them.

   Over time, Deuce begins to realize that she can be a Huntress and a girl, and that she can allow herself to love others because giving and receiving love is a good thing. After a period of misunderstanding when they do not even talk much, Deuce and Fade become a couple. They reach an understanding that they will be true to one another. Deuce becomes close to her foster parents, who learn to accept Deuce as she is and who even grow to love her and her strange ways.

   In the spring, soon after the crops are planted, the people of Salvation are shocked when the Freaks come close to the town walls to destroy the crops and to kill the growers who tend them. The Freaks put the heads of the dead on stakes to that the people of Salvation can see for themselves how the Freaks treat their enemies. It is clear to Deuce and others that the Freaks are no longer mindless killing machines. They are becoming smarter, more cunning, and they clearly feel that humans are not just a source of meat; they are the enemy.

   Since the people of Salvation need their crops to survive, it is decided that patrols will be sent out with the growers so protect them and the crops. Deuce manages to convince the man arranging the patrols, Longshot, to allow her to serve in a patrol unit. Though Longshot knows Deuce is more than capable of holding her own, some of the men in the patrols think that it is a mistake to take a girl with them. As far as they are concerned women and girls belong at home; they are not warriors. Even when Deuce proves that she is an asset, the men still do not accept her.

   Then the unthinkable happens, Fade and another patrol member are kidnapped by the Freaks. Deuce, Stalker and two of the men from Salvation set off into the woods to try to save the humans before the Freaks have a chance to kill and eat them. What they find is something worse than they could possibly have imagined.

   In this second title about Deuce and her friends, the girl who grew up underground has to learn how to cope in a world where females wear dresses and where her Huntress status is not properly appreciated. What makes the story especially interesting is the way in which the author allows Deuce to change and grow. We see a softer side in her character tentatively emerge, and we also watch as Deuce allows herself to think about her life, her circumstances, and the people around her in an honest way.

   In her narrative, Emily Bauer beautifully captures Deuce’s strengths, her vulnerabilities, and her weaknesses by adding expressive nuances to Deuce’s voice. Listeners will find it hard to stop listening to the story once they have begun.

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