The Outliers follows Wylie, a teenager whose life has been thrown into disarray after the death of her mother prior to the beginning of the book. From the beginning the reader is led to believe that something is amiss with Wylie’s absent friend, Cassie, who is missing.
The book takes the reader on a journey of emotions as McCreight deals with issues of mental health, anxiety and self-perception. Wylie is written as an “unstable” character who, has retreated into herself to the point she has become agoraphobic. I loved the way Wylie is written, not only because it accurately reflects the pressures of being a teenager. It also does justice to mental illness and how that person and the people that are around cope with it. I’ve never suffered from mental illness but the way Wylie is written I hope shows people that it’s normal, people suffer and everybody suffers in different ways. All you need to do is look at Wylie’s non-identical twin Giddeon (what a name by the way) to see that. Her worrying father who isn’t sure to react or behave is again someone I think a lot of people can relate to. The emphasis that McCreight places on the “your condition” when he is speaking to Wylie speak volumes about how mental illness is judged and how society segregates itself from them. It’s clear her father’s research is crucial to the plot, the drip feeding of information throughout is done well and when we finally reach Cassie all of the pieces start to fall into place.
Cassie and her boyfriend Jasper are present throughout the novel even when Cassie isn’t actually there. The way Wylie and Jasper talk about her as they set off on their rescue mission manages to create a perfect image before we even meet her, an achievement in its own right. I thought Jasper was a brilliant character, just as flawed as Wylie and dealing with his own demons while giving a different perspective into how some issues are dealt with by others.
I couldn’t put the book down. Finishing it in a day it was such a fast, powerful read that had me hooked. The start is slow to but I think it does well to show to slow Wylie’s life has become and once the adventure starts she really is caught up in it all.
I wasn’t sure how to write this review as the book deals with mental illness well posing questions about how we look at people who suffer, yet, having never suffered with mental illness I don’t want people to presume that what I am saying is true and that this is an accurate reflection. I am saying that from my experiences with people who do suffer this is accurate to me. The book is an incredible journey of overcoming, dealing with and showing what it is like, showing that there isn’t a cure or a switch you can flick on and off. It is life. I can’t wait for McCreight’s next instalment and if it’s anything like this novel it’s going to be an incredible read.