Outliers by Kimberly
McCreight is the first in a series for young adults. Having
changed gears from writing mysteries for adults she still
maintains, in the first part of the book, her ability to draw
out the different relationships between characters, including
the bond between a mother and daughter. The story went from
a psychological thriller that focused on grief and friendship
to a conspiracy theory mystery.
McCreight noted, “Writing a young adult mystery is not
much different than writing an adult novel. In my adult books
I had killed teenagers so to be fair and balanced I killed
an adult in this book. I was a little more careful about putting
in curse words although I did not make any compromises.”
The story follows, Wylie, a high school teenager who attempts
to find her missing friend with the help of the friend’s
boyfriend, Jasper. Cassie sends text clues that takes the
pair into the wilds of Maine where they encounter unsavory
cops, a seemingly harmless couple with an infant and Wylie’s
dad’s former research assistant. When they finally reach
Cassie, they realize nothing could have prepared them for
the dangers ahead, and they learn that all of their problems
are just beginning.
Wylie is sixteen and lives with her dad and twin brother Gideon
in Boston, since her mother died in a supposed car accident
four months earlier. She was broken up after her mother’s
death. Her dad became over protective as Wylie’s anxiety
progressed to the point she will not leave home. This anxiety
disorder has Wylie panicking, and sometimes even passing out
when too stressed.
Because McCreight also suffers from anxiety she wanted readers
to understand the complexities that both the family and individual
must face on a daily basis, and what triggers it. The author
commented, “I discovered that anxiety could draw out
other emotions in people, such as making them more attuned.
There are times when it can overtake someone’s life.”
Outliers is a story about the length someone will
go for their friends. In the second half of the book, it takes
a turn into a science fiction plot. Although all the sub-plots
had a conclusion, they lead into new questions that set up
the next book in the series.