“The 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.
“Writing a young adult mystery is not much different than writing an adult novel,” McCreight said. “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.”
“The 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.