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Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: Outcast

Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: Outcast

Written by Michelle Paver

Narrated by Ian McKellen


Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: Outcast

Written by Michelle Paver

Narrated by Ian McKellen

ratings:
4/5 (49 ratings)
Length:
7 hours
Publisher:
Released:
May 20, 2008
ISBN:
9780061575495
Format:
Audiobook

Description

Torak crouched on a beach of black sand, his clothes in tatters, his face wild and hopeless as he lashed out with a flaming brand – lashed out at Wolf.

For two moons, Torak has hidden a terrible secret – and now it is revealed. He bears the mark of the Soul-Eater and must pay the price. Cast out from the clans, he is alone and on the run – cut off from his best friend, Renn, and his beloved pack-brother, Wolf.

In the haunted reed-beds of Lake Axehead he is hunted by the Otter Clan and taunted by the Hidden People and, as soul-sickness claims him, falls prey to an even greater menace. Tormented by secrets and broken trust, he uncovers a deception that will turn his world upside down.

Outcast is a thrilling story of friendship, survival, and the need to belong. Like all the books in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, Outcast explores the complexities of an ancient world filled with good and evil.

A HarperAudio production.

Publisher:
Released:
May 20, 2008
ISBN:
9780061575495
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Michelle Paver was born in central Africa but came to England as a child. After gaining a degree in Biochemistry at Oxford University, she was a partner at a City law firm, until she gave that up to write full time. She is the author of the bestselling, award-winning series that began with Wolf Brother. The series has sold over 3 million copies in 36 territories, with acclaimed audio editions read by Ian McKellen. Wolfbane is the final book in the series. Like the others it can be read as a standalone story. michellepaver.com wolfbrother.com https://www.reddit.com/r/Wolf_Brother/ Twitter: @MichellePaver


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What people think about Chronicles of Ancient Darkness

4.1
49 ratings / 46 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Outcast was an AWESOME book!!!!! The "outcastS" are Brook and Stromfur. Find out yourself why! Although this book was great, the battle was not as exciting as I hoped.
  • (3/5)
    Not the best one in the series; didn't have a lot going on in the book. It wasn't as interesting as the other books.
  • (5/5)
    Jaypaw, the apprentice of a medicine cat, is blind, thoughh he a chosen cat of a prophecy. In this book, Jaypaw and his two siblings set out to help a Tribe in the mountains.While at the mountains, the three cats (and the other cats that were chosen in THE NEW PROPHECY; Tawnypelt, Brambleclaw, Crowfeather, and additional Stormfur, and Squirrelflight. Brook is Stormfur's mate, so she also comes along.) thrive to help the Tribe. The tribe cats are starving because some rogues are stealing their pray. They learned by watching the prey-hunters catch their food, and then learned them, and copied them to eat their food. Because of all this commotion, the clan cats have to teach them some fighting moves, and help them take what is theirs. The clan cats teach them how to fight, defend, and mark their borders.After all that training, they are finally able to fend those horrible rogues off, and the clan cats finally head for home.
  • (5/5)
    Exciting historical action involving some nice ideas about prehistoric religious ideas. Again Ian McKellen reads the story in a way that draws you into the plot and characters.
  • (3/5)
    In one house, a tragic set of circumstances lead to sad, disturbing behaviour and consquences; in another house, the bullying head abuses his mostly compliant family. A horrible, well-told story, which I could only read in small chunks, greatly relieved to get to the hopeful, final pages.
  • (5/5)
    Elizabeth and Gilbert Aldridge are an ill-matched couple but very much in love when he returns to her and their son Lewis after WWII. Elizabeth is a free spirit who clearly sees the pettiness of Dicky Carmichael, Gilbert's boss; Gilbert also knows Dicky for what he is, but his conventional ambition leads him to suppress judgment. Then, when Lewis is ten, Elizabeth drowns, with Lewis as the only witness, a little boy too small to save her. Suddenly Lewis is alone. His father withdraws from him and remarries a woman too young and too wrapped up in Gilbert to offer any help to Lewis at all.
    The book opens with Lewis at nineteen coming back home from a four year prison sentence to Gilbert and Alice who don't want him and can't not take him. Meanwhile, Dicky's daughters have grown up: Tamsin, lovely and shallow; and Kit, less obviously beautiful, but still in love with Lewis.
    The rest of the story shows Lewis - both before and after his time in prison - trying to connect with the world. It seems as though his assessment of reality is correct: "It looked like everybody was in a broken, bad world that fitted them just right." That is not the end of the story though, and the book ends with Lewis looking forward in hope.
    The Outcast is beautifully written in straightforward, understated prose. Flashbacks are skillfully done, and the whole thing moves forward to its bittersweet conclusion.
  • (5/5)
    Lewis Aldridge was an outcast – shunned by his father who reminded him too much of his deceased wife, bewildered by his young stepmother and largely ignored by his peers in his home village. Alone and hurt, Lewis became a man torn between the hatred he felt for being cast out and the desperation to feel accepted. In her debut novel, The Outcast, Sadie Jones exposed parts of Lewis’s soul who were hard to read about, but like a bad car accident, you keep looking, hoping to learn more.Lewis will be a character that I won’t soon forget. Most of the time, he was a character worthy of sympathy – a terrible victim of cirumstance that was acting out against society. Then, Lewis would show uglier colors and deeper flaws. He did unforgiveable things. And his bad reputation made him the target for any accusation – from rape to theft – whether he committed the crimes or not.As I finished The Outcast, I realized that Lewis was not the only “outcast” in this book. His parents were sad and lost too. His friends’ parents, the Carmichaels, were unscrupable. When Lewis made this realization, he felt even more broken. The only good in the world, for him, was 15-year-old Kit Carmichael, who was the constant recipient of her father’s physical abuse. He was determined to help her, despite the personal costs.It’s hard to say one could “enjoy” this book. The characters, though real, were tragic. Their destinies did not seem optimistic. But the ending left you with a glimmer of hope that the strength of the human spirit could endure all.
  • (4/5)
    The Outcast is a riveting story taking place in 1950's England. A mother dies and her son struggles with his grief and guilt. This is an amazing first novel from Ms Jones I look forward to more from this gifted young novelist.
  • (2/5)
    Despite being set in the 1950s, this book has a number of modern-day themes including self-harming, alcoholism, domestic violence, child abuse and family relationships. At the age of ten Lewis watches his beloved mother drown. From that moment on he is made to feel unwanted and unloved and this has far-reaching consequences in the years to follow. This is a rather dark and depressing book, despite its corny ending, with detailed descriptions of violence and of self-cutting. Whilst I felt sorry for Lewis there were many times when I thought he deserved how he was treated. Because of this, I never really connected with him. In fact, there weren't any characters I actually liked. A disappointing read.
  • (4/5)
    Sadie Jones’ debut novel is set in England in the years immediately following WWII. Lewis Aldridge lives with his mother Elizabeth and father Gilbert in a semi-rural commuter town outside of London. Gilbert served in the war and is the stiff-upper-lip type who keeps his feelings to himself. He is also strict and straitlaced (though a reluctant disciplinarian) and presides over a household to some extent held hostage to his moods. Free-spirited Elizabeth drinks. Tragedy strikes when Lewis is ten: he loses his mother in a drowning accident, an event to which he is the sole witness. Gilbert and Lewis are both devastated but exist in isolated emotional spheres and are so bottled up they are unable to provide any comfort to one another. In an effort to repair the damage, Gilbert quickly remarries and introduces young, needy, attention-seeking Alice to his son only a few months after Elizabeth’s death. With no outlet for his guilt and remorse, Lewis’s fragile emotional state festers; confused by resentment and anger that he can neither escape nor express, he finds solace in alcohol, self-mutilation and episodes of destructive rage. The novel’s most wrenching scenes take place in 1957, after Lewis returns home from a spell in prison for setting fire to the local church. Lewis and Gilbert strike a truce of sorts. Lewis promises to behave, and Gilbert gets him a menial position working for the company where he has built his career, which is owned by the odious Dicky Carmichael, a neighbour, whose two daughters, sultry Tamsin and gangly Kit, are childhood friends of Lewis. But Lewis, still lacking an outlet for feelings that he doesn’t understand, is ostracized by much of the community and gives in to wilfulness and destructive urges that won’t let him alone. The tone of the narration is controlled, the prose reminiscent of William Trevor at his most tersely lyrical. Sadie Jones has written a psychologically blistering novel that generates great suspense, presenting Lewis as the victim of the emotional failings of the weak and immature adults charged with his care and something of a ticking time-bomb. Though largely driven by tragedy and violence, the story concludes on an emotionally satisfying, hopeful note. Shortlisted for the Orange Prize and winner of the Costa Book Awards prize for first novel, The Outcast is a sophisticated and thoroughly convincing work of fiction that never lets the reader down.
  • (5/5)
    For me this was a very powerful story. It’s fundamentally about a boy who at age 10 suffers the unbearable guilt of seeing his mother drown and not being able to save her, and then has to live with a father who can’t or won’t show him the love he needs to overcome his guilt. It’s also a wider story about bad parenting (mostly fathering) and domestic violence in upper class post-war Britain. It's also a story about how the justice system does nothing to really address the cause of crimes committed by a mentally disturbed young man. There were lots of times when I just had to put the book down, unable to bear the pain I felt for the main character, Lewis, but I was always drawn back in desperately hoping that Sadie Jones would provide Lewis with the believable and satisfying redemption that I hope can exist.
  • (4/5)
    Compelling read. Well-drawn characters. Setting is 1950's England where "appearances" are most important. Theme is really "broken" or "wrecked" people. There' s alcoholism, child abuse, wife battering, religious hypocracy - all good family values."It looked like everybody was in a broken, bad world that fitted them just right".In the end all of the characters are doomed to this "broken, bad world" except Lewis and Kit who may have found a way out.
  • (5/5)
    Did you ever want to grab a character from the pages of a book and hug him? I dare you not to want to embrace Lewis and tell him he's loved. The characters within this debut novel are so three dimensional that you feel for them, know them, and want to sit them down and straighten them out. A book I couldn't put down, but wanted to slowly read to enjoy every word. One of the best books I've picked up in a while. A wonderful book.
  • (4/5)
    After two not-so-great reads, The Outcast was exactly what I needed to get over my reading slump. While definitely not a cheery book, The Outcast is emotionally moving, physically shocking, and beautifully written.Sadie Jones' debut novel tells the story of Lewis Aldridge, a nineteen-year-old boy who in 1957 has just been released from a two-year prison sentence. As Lewis returns home to the small English suburb of Waterford, Jones flashes back to Lewis' childhood and relates the events leading up to his imprisonment. At the age of ten, Lewis experiences a tragedy that changes the course of his life. The next seven years are a downward spiral of violence, self-mutilation, and extreme loneliness. At seventeen, he finally commits an act that sends him to prison - much to the delight of the inhabitants of his town, who always believed that Lewis was "no good."The Outcast also centres around Kit Carmichael, a girl who has loved Lewis her entire life. When he finally returns from prison, Lewis encounters Kit again and again. As Lewis attempts to return to a normal life, Kit is the only one who believes in him - who believes that he is good. As tensions mount in Waterford, Lewis and Kit hope for redemption, hope for freedom, and hope for a better life.Jones is a talented author whose style appeals to me. Her prose slips from descriptive to obscure, and the reader is left to make his or her own connections between events. Lewis and Kit have complex, intense emotions, and I often found myself mirroring those emotions. The supporting cast - Lewis' family and Kit's family - are all well-drawn additions to the plot. No character or event seems extraneous, and the ending, while not cut-and-dry, is a satisfying conclusion to the novel.Though not an overly optimistic novel, The Outcast does offer the reader a sense of hope. Jones expresses the idea that we all have our own set of personal tragedies, and while Lewis' are certainly harsher than most, as human beings we push on through the bad. We seek some form of atonement for our mistakes, we hope for an upturn in our fates, and we continue to live. Lewis and Kit do just this - though times are often bad, they continue to hope, to love, to live.The Outcast is a fantastic first novel, and I look forward to future works by Sadie Jones.
  • (5/5)
    The best book I've ever read, besides Fall on your knees and Før du sovner. I am so in love with the boy in this book. You are taken in to his head and you're able to read all his thought through Jones' words. His loneliness is mine, his pain is mine, his love is mine, his confusion is mine, his happiness is mine. I Love every well spoken, well written word in this book. I live in it still, it's haunting me still, tempting me, loving me, sees me still. I carry it everywhere I go. I read parts of it over and over again. Every time I open it, it rips out my soul, and it seems I like it.Need to quote my favourite paragraph:"I see you. You think you're dark, and there's all this darkness around you, but when I look at you ... you're like a shining thing. You're light. You just are. You always were." (Kit says this to Lewis)
  • (3/5)
    This is a good book, but not a great one - and I was hoping for a great one. Jones is a talented writer, and I found myself going back to reread some of her lovely phrases. But every character here is ridiculously dysfunctional, and many times I felt I had already heard this story (misunderstood, struggling, brooding young man) - and I did not believe the budding romance that comes near the end of the story. I don't feel I wasted my time reading this book, but I would not keep it in my library.
  • (5/5)
    I got so caught up in [The Outcast] that I stayed up until 3:30 last night finishing it. That says something for the power of the book--even though, in terms of content, it is probably the most depressing book I've ever read. The novel starts in 1957, as Lewis has just been released from prison and returns home. We flash back to 1945, with seven-year old Lewis and his mother taking the train to London to meet his father, who has long been away in the war. Dad turns out to be . . . well, not exactly an affectionate father; and things go from bad to worse a few years later when Lewis's mother dies. (No spoilers or details, I promise!) Different sections of the novel cover pivotal events in the years in between and in the weeks following Lewis's return. There's only a sliver of happiness in the ending, so if you're looking for a light summer read, don't pick up this one. My main criticism is that it is a bit hard to believe that so many characters could be so cruel and downright abusive with no one seeming to notice or care and everyone blaming a ten-year old boy for his own misery. I know that the setting was 1945-57, but even then people might question some of the things that happen to Lewis. No one seems to figure out that his quietness has something to do with the fact that he witnessed his mother's death or that he's angry that his father remarries only five months later? Still, the author's ability to evoke a visceral response in her reader is the novel's strength. She made me physically experience the sadness and anxiety and hopelessness that Lewis must have experienced.
  • (5/5)
    I approached this book with uncertainty based on reviews I had read. Once I began the first page, though, I was caught in the net of complicated characters and actions that all carried their consequences. There was not a single character whose life was left untouched by the others, some to their detriment, but others to their perceived salvation. True to life, the problems faced by these characters never came to a magical resolution, but instead shaped the people they would become...just as in real life. The book was superbly written with enough happiness at the end to leave the reader feeling comforted but not enough to ruin the story with a fairy tale ending.
  • (4/5)
    This debut novel opens in 1957 London, as Lewis Aldridge, a 19 year old from the northern suburb of Waterford, is released from prison after serving a two year sentence. No one comes to greet him, and with no practical skills and nowhere to go, he chooses to return to the small town that has been distrustful of him since his mother's disappearance a decade earlier. Secrets abound in Waterford, where social appearances are far more important than genuine love and respect, and Lewis' reputation as a pariah and his continued troubles at home and in the community cause him to become progressively unrattled.Lewis is befriended by Kit Carmichael, a younger girl who has always admired him. However, her father is Lewis' father's employer, a respected but abusive man who despises Lewis and threatens Kit and his older daughter, Tamsin, to avoid the wayward boy. As tensions build, Kit becomes the only person who can communicate with Lewis, whose own father adds to his increasingly unstable behavior.The Outcast was a brilliant page turner for the first 2/3 of the book, with its realistic though disturbing portrayal of the lives and secrets in a small town community in postwar England, and the characters of Lewis, Kit and others were compelling. Unfortunately, the last 1/3 of the novel doesn't meet the same standard of excellence. However, this was still a very good novel, and one that I would strongly recommend.
  • (4/5)
    I finished The Outcast by Sadie Jones, shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2008. It is a very good book, a very perceptive study of a boy rejected by one self centered member of his village after another, ganged up on by bullies thinking everything that is wrong in life is his fault, and being assured that that is true. His counterpart is a young girl from a wealthy family but with the same familial, though not societal rejection. The results of evil are demonstrated but not the cause. Why should Lewis's father reject him from the age of 7 onward, did war deaden his feelings or does the man have none? Why does Dicky Carmichael abuse only part of his family, and why does the family condone it? Why do people get so much more enjoyment from expressing hatred and conformity than love, individuality and humanity? Is it original sin? Can only religion answer these questions? Not in this book, religion comes off as equally self absorbed with the rest of the village. Sadie Jones doesn't discuss cause just effects. She does that well, but it's a mighty oppressive book.
  • (4/5)
    When The Outcast opens it’s 1957 and 19 year old Lewis Aldridge has just been released from two years in prison. He is returning home, the outskirts of London, to his father and stepmother, neither of whom wants him. The rest of the book is the haunting story of Lewis’ life, before and after this point, as the author weaves the story by moving back and forth in time, developing a narrative with tension and suspense that had me holding my breath and furiously turning pages.Lewis’ story is one of repression and loneliness. As a ten-year-old, he watches helplessly as his mother drowns in a river close to their home and without her to anchor him, he is lost. His father, Gilbert, marries a much younger woman, only a few short months later. Lewis struggles to fit in and control his anger, but he is a child in need of extensive counseling, and none is offered him.In the meantime, his father’s influential boss, Dicky Carmichael, is revealed as an abusive bully who is systematically beating his younger daughter, Kit. Lewis and Kit are unwitting partners in trying to escape their individual nightmare existences. And Lewis’ stepmother, Alice, has turned into a public drunk who is making sexual advances on him. It’s hard for a guy to keep his head up under these circumstances. Lewis does try, but the cards are stacked against him. My heart went out to him. Sadie Jones paints such a sympathetic character, flaws and all that I found myself wanting desperately for him to succeed. In the end, we’re left with hope, Lewis is left with hope. He has a future that could never have been predicted early on in the narrative. Sadie Jones produced a knock-out debut novel. Her spare prose, told with unnerving realism make for a riveting read that reveals the strait-laced life of the fifties wasn’t all it appeared to be. Very highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    Sadie Jone's debut novel - The Outcast - is a disturbing and provocative story about loss, adolescent struggle for understanding, familial relationships and secrets, and finally redemption.When ten year old Lewis Aldridge loses his mother to a tragic accident, he finds himself on the outside of his father's love and understanding. Wrapping himself in a cloak of silence, and converting his grief to anger, Lewis detaches himself from his friends and family. Eventually, Lewis' anger boils over and he lashes out at not only himself, but a community which has turned against him. The novel actually begins with Lewis' release from prison after serving two years for his crime, then rewinds to his childhood to show the reader Lewis' relationship with his mother, the carefree Lizzie; and his cold and distant father, Gilbert. After Lizzie's death, Lewis' father remarries the younger Alice - a woman whose floundering self-esteem and desire to be "liked" results in further alienation of her stepson. The community where Lewis grows up is filled with damaged characters - all who believe primarily in "appearances," while harboring dark secrets. The Carmichael family (with the violent Dicky, and his two daughters and ineffective wife) parallel the lives of the Aldridges.Jones deliberately sets down the story of Lewis' early years, casting the narrative in an all seeing omniscient voice which gives the reader a sense of impending doom. By the time the reader has caught up to the present with Lewis returning home after his imprisonment, the story has taken on a pace of its own. The layers of Lewis' psyche begin to unfold, and the closely held secrets of the characters are exposed.Jones weaves her story with the careful precision of architect The characters - who are not terribly likable - demand to be read. The cruelty heaped upon Lewis seems interminable. And there were moments when I wanted to scream at his uncaring father and insipid stepmother. The intertwined lives of all the characters seem too broken and damaged to be mended, but Jones ultimately leaves the reader with the hope of understanding and redemption.The result of all of this is an emotionally driven and powerful novel which is compulsively readable. I can recommend this debut by Sadie Jones for readers who enjoy a character driven novel which explores the deeper meaning behind what it means to be human.Rated 3.5.
  • (4/5)
    Gripping and heartbreaking and lovely all at the same time.
  • (3/5)
    Simultaneously captivating and disturbing, British debut novelist Sadie Jones’ story of a young man’s attempt to reconcile great loss and great emotional distance, is similar to a pivotal event that takes place in the book. As with many dramatic events – and dramatic stories, one cannot watch, but one cannot turn away. The story is told mostly from the point of view of Lewis Aldridge, but is sprinkled with snippets in alternate voices, giving the story an interesting perspective. When we first meet Lewis it is 1957 and he is nineteen and just leaving prison after two years. The story then jumps back to 1945 when Lewis and his mother are going to meet his father, a virtual stranger to Lewis, after his demobilization. Formalities and rigid codes of behavior abound in this posh suburban London neighborhood, and Lewis’ ebullient mother watches the clock for the acceptable cocktail time. She and Lewis are close and after she drowns in front of Lewis life is never the same. Jones deftly coveys the ostracism of this closed and suspicious society and Lewis’ lonely self-doubt only adds to his mental troubles. Jones also captures completely the self-loathing and the almost incomprehensible need to turn emotional pain into physical relief as Lewis engages in self-harm by repeatedly cutting his arm. Revolving around Lewis are characters that run the gamut from cliché to complex. There’s Alice, his sudden new stepmother and her insatiable need to be pitied even as she tries to comfort Lewis. Neighbors and sisters Tamsin and Kit both involve themselves with Lewis over the years but neither one is simple or one-dimensional and the reader must continually question their motives. Their father, Dicky, on the other hand, is almost comically evil and becomes Lewis’ nemesis. And Lewis’ father Gilbert is an intense mix of compassion and strict doctrine, quiet direction and aggressive dominance. But perhaps the most memorable element of Jones’ book is a stylistic one. Her writing is terse, choppy, direct, and reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s in its stark emotions and run-on stream-of-consciousness. “He slept and he dreamed, but he didn’t know that he was sleeping, and when he remembered it later it never felt like a dream, but like something that happened to him, with all the clarity and beauty of truth, perhaps more clarity and beauty than that.” Tapping into abuse and emotional turmoil is never easy or particularly pleasant, but Sadie Jones has done an honest and lyrical job of bringing us into the minds and hearts of a handful of conflicted characters.
  • (4/5)
    A compelling read which I thought was going to get an unheard of five stars, but by the end I was feeling overwhelmed by the hero's suffering and looking for more in the way of redemption . The hero is complex and well-drawn, but other characters offer little in the way of light and shade. Still a cracking read.
  • (5/5)
    This was an amazingly good book! It said on the back that it was a bit grim (or words to that effect) and - don't get me wrong - it was unbelievably relentlessly grim! Yet I kept the faith that there would be some kind of relief and I wasn't disappointed. It brought me to tears several times. She's an incredible writer. Oof!
  • (5/5)
    When he was only 10 years old, Lewis Aldridge witnessed a terrible tragedy. Unable to express his feelings and shunned by his father, Lewis grew up a troubled young man. The Outcast opens with a prologue set in 1957, when 19-year-old Lewis is returning home after two years in prison. Sadie Jones then takes her readers back in time to recount Lewis' childhood and the events that led him to commit a crime.Lewis' father Gilbert served in World War II, and when he returned home in 1945 Lewis was only 7. He didn't really know his father at all, and struggled with his intrusion into the family and his close relationship with his mother. After the tragedy, Lewis withdrew into himself. The other children in his village didn't know how to respond to him, and the adults were disturbed by his silence. In his teens, Lewis expressed his intense grief and self-loathing in increasingly harmful ways, eventually leading to imprisonment.As Lewis' life fell apart, he couldn't help but compare himself with the Carmichaels, a model family in his village. Dicky Carmichael was Gilbert's boss; he and his wife Claire host an annual New Year's party and weekly Sunday lunches, all with plenty of cocktails to go around. Dicky and Claire's older daughter Tamsin is a beautiful young woman who knows how to use her sexuality; their younger daughter Kit is precocious and cares deeply for Lewis. But the Carmichaels have dark secrets of their own, which remain carefully concealed even as the Aldridge family's troubles are exposed to public viewing.When Lewis is released from prison, he is thrust back into village society and gossip, and struggles to find his way. He gravitates toward the Carmichael girls, even as their parents reject him because of his criminal record. Tensions escalate, particularly after Lewis discovers the Carmichael secret, and all hell breaks loose.I read this book in two days, because I just couldn't put it down. Lewis is a sympathetic character, and I was pulling for him throughout. He had been through so much, and had so little support. It was easy to see how he became so troubled, and I nearly cried whenever he began to go off the rails, or struggled with his place in society. The Outcast is intense, dramatic, and highly recommended.
  • (3/5)
    The outcast of the title is a young man who returns home to his small, smug English village after serving two years in prison for arson. Poor Lewis Aldridge watches his mother drown when he is 10, and then lives under his father's silent blame and near-hatred. As he enters his teens, he starts cutting himself, drinking, and acting out violently. Nothing much changes when he is released from prison, and his only solace comes from his relationship with two girls next door, one of whom is routinely abused by her father.Nice, right? This book was very readable, but so dark and depressing that even I started disliking it, and I usually love dark and depressing. The somewhat hopeful ending redeemed it a little, so I won't say I disliked the book in its entirety. One of the blurbs evoked Atonement. It's an easy comparison because of the setting, but while Atonement is complex and breathtakingly realistic in depicting the psychology of its characters, The Outcast is a little too pat and by-the-numbers. Still, a bleakly interesting read.
  • (5/5)
    An unexpected gift.I loved this novel, the story of a haunted boy who is forgotten by his own father. He abandons the fight to remain socially acceptable until one of his friends from his infancy comes to his rescue. And unknowingly, of her own.I'll be following this author.
  • (5/5)
    This book packs a wallop and is definitely not for those who like soft, rosy stories.It is a book that will haunt me for awhile...a long while.As stated in the opening chapter, two people went into the woods for a picnic and only one returned!When young Lewis witnesses the drowning of his mother, his life spins way out of control while his father and the upper crust social strata of 1940-1950's England encourages and foments denial.When his father rapidly marries and Lewis' feelings are pushed further and further underground, he acts out in ways that harm himself and those around him.This is a graphic novel -- not in the sense of cartoon like pictures -- but in the reality of stark images written at the hand of a very adept and powerfully skilled author.Struggling to write a review about the awesome power of this book, I'll simply say it is a very compelling look at the phoniness of society. It is an incredible story of a young man struggling to find meaning in a very crazy environment.While those around him are quite comfortable in their accouterments, lavish lifestyles, dinner parties and social status, their out-of- reality behaviors literally drive Lewis crazy!While the adults emotionally and physically abuse their children behind closed doors, they quite comfortably drive their Rolls Royce cars out into the guilded land of la la land.Highly recommended!