The Outlaw: Book One of the Outlaw Series

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Los Angeles is being torn apart by race riots and violence, and, one fateful night, student Chase Jackson stumbles into the heart of the chaos. Donning a mask to recover his best friend’s stolen cellphone, he foils a mugging and becomes a media sensation, The Outlaw. But for a normal kid trying to deal with his father’s medical care, the demands of his fellow football players, and the confusion of high school romance, the last thing he needs is a superhero secret identity and the strange powers to go with it.

Coming-of-age superhero tales are nothing new in fiction, but where most of those novels misstep or fall short, The Outlaw shines. Chase’s teenage struggles — his curious relationship with the ambitious Hannah, the battle of grades vs. practice time, being at odds with his dad — beautifully complement the challenges he faces as his burgeoning superhero persona becomes more famous.

And the Outlaw’s powers prove to be a wonderful change of pace from the usual crop of superhero gimmicks. As mysterious as they are impressive, his size-shifting, strength, agility, and ferocity make him an intriguing alter ego for our mild-mannered protagonist, painting him as a savior, a vigilante, a pariah, and a menace, all facets of a complicated world from one perspective or another. (Shades of more famous comic book-style characters like Spider-Man and the Punisher only serve to make the Outlaw more relatable and engaging.)

The highlight of the book is easily the dynamic, multilayered friendship shared by Chase and Katie. It feels heartbreakingly true-to-life — especially those confounding gray areas between friend and something-more that can encroach on previously-established boundaries and comfort zones — and it never once feels cliché or trite.

Although the book wraps up a bit too neatly — engineering a calculated, yet effective comic book cliffhanger to close out volume one of his promised series — The Outlaw shines, its pluses far outweighing its minuses. This is not only a terrific standalone adventure, but a very promising start for a new hero and a new narrative universe.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 325 pages
Publisher Sparkle Press
Publish Date 02-Jun-2015
ISBN 9780996229326 Buy this Book
Issue September 2015
Category Young Adult


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