The Outlaw: Origins
By Alan Janney
The Outlaw #1
Published February 26, 2016
Young Adult, Science Fiction, Superheroes
This book was provided to me from YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.
A masked vigilante stalks the streets of downtown Los Angeles, disrupting crime and rescuing movie starlets. After being spotted on security cameras and thrust into the national spotlight, he is pursued by both the media and powerful new enemies. Little does the world know the Outlaw is just High School junior Chase Jackson wearing a mask and wondering why his body is suddenly…extraordinary.
The story continues in Book Two of the Outlaw Series, 'Infected.'
I was not quite sure what to expect when I started to read The Outlaw: Origins, except that it was about superheroes. Honestly, that was all I needed to know. I am a huge fan of Marvel (Captain America for the win!) and even some DC characters too. If there is even a hint at superhero powers, then you can count me in.
After reading The Outlaw, I realized that there are not enough YA superhero stories out there. Chase and his unusual story reminded me of my love for the extraordinary and the major crushes I tend to get on superheroes. Chase lives up to the legend of Spiderman and other teenage superheroes struggling to fight evil and finish their math homework at the same time.
I love how The Outlaw expanded its scope to include all of Chase's life, not just emphasizing his powers. His family situation, with his poverty and his father's disability, were highlighted well and added depth to his backstory. Every superhero needs a great background story, right?
The novel also included Chase's academic and athletic lives. Even though the synopsis does not mention it, high school football is a major focus of the novel. I have never been much of a football fan, but Janney made me feel the intense atmosphere of football games and it felt like he included me in the games. The football anecdotes added another dimension to Chase's character, which made him much more than another cardboard superhero. He had goals, dreams, loves, and losses. Chase felt like a person to me, which is all you can really ask of an author.
While Chase's character was portrayed well most of the time, his voice was unreliable. Sometimes he sounded like a 17 year old boy, but others he felt much younger and less mature. There was an abundance of exclamation points, extremely simple phrases, and excessive excitement at times that added to the childish voice, but I can forgive those minor transgressions.
My more major problem with the story was the romance. There is some serious love geometry going on that I lost track of halfway through the novel. I felt like I was watching an intense game of tennis between four people and the ball quickly bounced back and forth between all of them. Clearly, Chase (or really anyone in the novel) is not a decisive person, which got on my nerves a little bit.
Even though Chase's abilities were not fully explained during the story, I enjoyed the suspense and mystery. There were many questions and not a ton of answers, but the stage was set for the next installment of the series and the potential for another interesting superhero novel is promising.
The Outlaw: Origins is the perfect solution for superhero junkies who are looking for the next Spiderman or who need to live vicariously through a teenage superhero. There was a good balance between Chase's action and his personal life. Even though the romance was a bit heavy, The Outlaw: Origins has the making to start a new superhero trend.
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What are you favorite YA superhero books? DC or Marvel? Who is your favorite superhero?