by E.S. Wesley
Curiosity Quills Press
Caleb’s been changing ever since the memory-stealing blackouts—the Outs—started. He used to be a good, dependable, honor-student, but now his parents have vanished, and something inside tells him their disappearance is his fault.
That something has a voice—a voice that's pushed him to kidnap a little girl. Caleb believes he did it to protect her, but now he’s starting to wonder if he’s the one she needs protection from.
Then there’s his friend, Kitzi. Kitzi knows a secret she can’t share, locked in her head behind layers of brain damage. Kitzi wants to help Caleb, but she suspects a connection between this little girl and the Outs. If she can survive Caleb’s mistakes and the strange girl’s reality-bending fits long enough to put the pieces together, her secret might save them.
Or it could mean the end of everything.
This book is like jumping onto a roller coaster at night during a thunderstorm, and there's no guarantee that the ride will end where it should.
The Outs started months before. Electricity disappears. Cars won't run. Terrifying things happen. Deadly things. But when the lights go back on, everything's forgotten as if it never happened at all. Only the remaining chaotic scenes remain. Caleb is caught up in the thick of it, not sure what horrible acts he's committing. And Kitzi, his friend, is the only one who remembers. She's the only one who truly sees.
If you're in search of originality, this book is it. The reader is yanked into a dark world, where chaos reigns. It's bloody. It's terrible. But then, the lights go on, and it's over. Everyone who died, comes back to life, but they remember nothing. Only the blood they're coated in and the chaos around them hints at what happened. And it's exactly this ray of hope, which rescues the scenes from going off too far into gruesome.
Packed is a word which defines this story in so many ways. It's action packed-from beginning to end, there's always something coming and barely any time to breathe in between. It's packed with character depth-right and wrong become a gray smudge as two very different characters question themselves, each other and the true meaning of existence. Plot packed - twists and turns control every chapter, making it impossible to figure out what is going on.
There are two main characters, both in their upper teens. Caleb's parents both disappeared and while trying to cope, he ends up in a very dark place. This is where the story takes off. Caleb is actually a guy with a golden heart, who has just tipped in the wrong direction and is a little lost. He's easy to like despite his flaws. Plus, the author does an intriguing thing with this 'split' in Caleb. He brings the inner battle between good and evil to distinct life. The visual back and forth between Caleb and 'Crimes' not only adds delicious twists and turns, but opens up a treasure chest of deeper questions to inner battles and right vs. wrong.
Kitzi is a treat all for herself. She's the light in the darkness, but not without her own corners. An accident has left her unable to clearly communicate, an impediment which disappears during the Outs. She's Caleb's rock and holds everything together. But when Kitzi appears, the story always seems to switch into overdrive.
The only thing which hitched in this book was the logic. Most of the book is so tension packed that it's unclear (and intentionally so) what the truth behind the Outs is. And this part is masterfully woven together. Toward the end, however, the logic grows thin. The ending itself is interesting and refuses to let the reader go. That and the rest of the book make for a fantastic read. But deeper thought at the explanations behind everything won't entirely click into place.
Summed up, this is a dark read which will keep fans of science fiction/paranormal thrillers on the edge of their seats and guessing until the very end.