Friday, February 26, 2010


Title: Outriders
Series: The Birthright Project #1

Author: Kathryn Mackel

Genre: YA (14-18 years) Fantasy/Apocalyptic

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Outriders:

Niki leaned into the wind. Still no sign of open water. The endless stretch of ice was studded with boulders—not of stone but of frozen seawater, buckled and broken into a forbidding landscape.

The bone-rattling cold and shuddering winds made this arctic region a perfect pickup spot. So why the delay?Maybe the terns were wrong. But Brady said they were never wrong, and the shelter waiting for her would be proof of that. She had arrived four days ago, stopping here because the terns swooped down and roosted on what looked like an ice boulder. On the far side, she had found a wind-carved cave, a perfect refuge for dogs and men alike.

Now the terns moved overhead in lazy circles. The dogs were quiet, content to eat or sleep until she needed them.

Niki pulled up her hood, checked the lacings of her boots, and tightened her crampons. Back home, in the forests and plains upground of Horesh, trees already budded and seedlings pushed up through moist ground. Here the only sign of spring was a sun that circled the horizon, no more than a fleck of gold straining to climb into full day.

When she picked up the dogs back in Chiungos, the weather had still been mild enough to keep her hood down and let the crisp air rush through her hair. She had forgotten how cold it could get this far north. She walked hard, her crampons biting the ice with an irritating
clip, clip, clip. She was sick of frozen land and parched air and shy sun.
A group of outsiders battle dark forces intent on the destruction of creation in a post-apocalyptic world.

The Craft: A world in ruins, genetic manipulation gone amok, a new ark of refuge: Outriders brings together the scientific, the fantastic, the apocalyptic, and the supernatural for a premise that’s intriguing and disturbing at the same time.

Unfortunately, despite the great set-up, I found Outriders difficult to get into. The beginning simply failed to snag and hold my attention. Why? It is hard to say.

I do know I failed to connect with the characters on a level that keeps me turning pages out of anxiety for them. Perhaps the action accelerated in a way that prevented bonding. Perhaps a certain dimension that creates connect was lacking. Perhaps the many jagged edges of the characters were presented without the appropriate sympathy-building counterbalances so I didn’t want to connect. Or perhaps it’s just me.

Anyway, once the characters connect, the plot flares to life. Like the premise, it intrigues and entices with plenty of rollercoaster drops between.

The Content: Outriders offers a clean story with solid Christian values. Sacrifice, the tragedy of disobedience, serving with grace, surrender to God, and other themes weave in and out, always present without overwhelming.

Outriders also contains moderate violence and strong environmental themes.

Summary: Though the story fails to connect right at the beginning (at least for me), Outriders offers an intriguing premise and great action, creating an enjoyable adventure for teens and up, with great caution needed only by those with strong environmental leanings.

Rating: Craft—3, Content—4, Overall—3.7 out of 5 stars

The series doesn't stop here! Also have a look at book two, Trackers.

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