It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.
This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice but to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.
But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?
The Outliers starts off with a thriller chase plot, then turns into a conspiracy – all of which was coupled with great visual scenes and an overall aura of urgency. Wylie, an agoraphobic, sets out to search for her best friend when she receives a distressing message, along with said best friend’s boyfriend, whom she doesn’t entirely like. Over the course of the chase, which starts from slight worry over a bender to the fear of kidnapping, the pair have to go under the radar. Then they are caught in a web, which doesn’t become apparent immediately; well, Wylie is the one anxious and paranoid enough to notice things, which keeps them out of danger for most of the time.
The second half is mostly unraveling of the trap they are in, part of which relates to flashbacks that are interspersed throughout the texts. I did pick up some clues, but otherwise, this was a hard one to crack. I loved how the author kept the sense of danger alive – it was very visual, this novel; I could imagine the scenes playing out in my head. The creepiness, the chase, the dread and the suspicion – they all play out well. The climax was a bit unexpected, and it felt a little out of place with the plot and with Wylie as a character, like it was trying too hard to explain away some things. But the ending – well, that was a good cliffhanger; I want that second book already!
Received a free galley from HarperCollins, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.