Monday, January 10, 2022

Outcast by Louise Carey: review

5/5 stars on Goodreads

Outcast by Louise Carey

Outcast is the second book in Louise Carey’s Inscape sci-fi series set in post-apocalyptic London, and easily as good as the first book. It’s not as mind-blowing conceptually as the first, but it’s a more enjoyable read—once I got used to the present tense narrative again.

In the first book, Tanta, the main protagonist, narrowly avoided being caught in the political machinations of InTech corporation and revealing that her CorpWard conditioning has been broken. This book finds her as a lowly guard who isn’t given any responsibilities. Cole, the neuroscientist and Tanta’s co-conspirator, is in house arrest doing menial tasks for his former boss.

They’re both balancing on a tight rope, trying to keep up appearances amid constant surveillance of the Inscape. It doesn’t help Tanta that her girlfriend Reet is still conditioned, making Tanta question everything about their relationship, Reet’s feelings included.

Attacks against InTech have led to food shortage and restlessness, and Cole discovers that there’s going to be a corporation wide update to Inscape that will make everyone behave like conditioned CorpWards, but worse. Tanta and Cole need to handle both, which is easier said than done when neither of them is free to act.

Tanta manages to manipulate the situation so that she and Cole are working together again, but it comes with costs. One is that they’re basically exiled from London to a remote outpost. But they are determined to find out who’s attacking InTech and how to stop the update that will turn everyone into mindless puppets. There’s plenty of action and some heartbreak for both along the way before the truth is revealed.

This was a more enjoyable read than the first book—and that was great too. The world was familiar already and no new concepts were introduced, Tanta and Cole were even better together despite the oddness of their partnership, and the plot was more straightforward. The world became larger with new locations, and the new POV character, Fliss, was a great addition. I guessed the bad guy fairly early, but the author still managed to make an impact with the revelation.

The ending left Tanta and Cole in a completely new situation. It’s so intriguing that I absolutely have to find out what happens next.

I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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