Outrage (The Singular Menace, 2)
by John Sandford and Michele Cook
Cover Artist: Adrian Neal / Getty Images
Review by Wes Breazeale
Knopf Books for Young Readers Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780385753098
Date: 14 July 2015 List Price $18.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
John Sandford is best known for his Lucas Davenport Prey novels and his Virgil Flowers books set in the same literary universe. Those books tend to be a bit on the dark, violent side, but provide fast paced thrills and intricate mysteries. In 2014, Sandford and his wife Michelle Cook joined forces to write Uncaged, the first book in their Singular Menace trilogy. Uncaged introduced us to Shay Remby, a tough teenage runaway living in Los Angeles while searching for her animal-activist brother, Odin. This marked Sandford's first entry into the popular young-adult market, and Uncaged is a pleasant fusion of well worn YA tropes and Sanford's grittier style of thriller.
Outrage picks up shortly after the conclusion of Uncaged and continues the story of Shay, Odin, and her artist friend/mentor, Twist. Having successfully raided a Singular Corporation research facility, sadly at the cost of one of their allies life, Shay and her gang rescued both Odin and one of Singular's research subjects – Fenfang. With Fenfang comes further confirmation of the dark limits of technology that Singular is pushing, and the human cost that they're willing to extract to achieve their goals. For Fenfang has been kidnapped from China and had experimental electronics placed into her head. Electronics that have been used to partially implant the memories of one of Singular's backers, Senator Charlotte Dash. Hunted across the Southwest, Shay and her team are forced to use their creativity, connections, and a bit of force to try to figure out how to extricate themselves from Singular's sights.
Outrage is similar to Uncaged in that it is a quick, enjoyable read. Shay is a likeable, and mostly believable character, with some of the common traits of a YA heroine – pluck, wisdom beyond her years, and skills that many kids might not have but certainly wish for. But Sandford and Cook are wise to also incorporate Sandford's style as well, including some of his darker tendencies. Outrage is not a fluffy, feel-good kid's story. It's a taut, sometimes disconcerting story that doesn't shy away from the world it establishes. A world that is beginning to have access to technology that we don't have today, but very well might soon. There is a futuristic edge and an awareness of modern computer technology that enhances the believability of what Singular is trying to do with their research.
In all, while Outrage may not be for every fan of YA literature, fans of Sandford's work and fans of a good thriller will certainly get their money's worth from the Singular Menace series.