The Outlaws Scarlett & Browne is set in a future England where cities are not as we know them: many have been wiped out and London has become fragmented by a lagoon filled with dangerous creatures. Outlaws and fortified towns are the order of the day and every town runs on its own strict rules - fall foul of those and you will be persecuted, or even killed. It's everyone for themselves and this is how we are introduced to Scarlett McCain, the main character who survives by robbing banks, being ruthless with her weapons and being self-sufficient ... and then she stumbles across Albert Browne who, at first, seems to be a rather naïve young lad who has survived a brutal crash and doesn't appear to stand a chance of survival on his own. Scarlett agrees to get him to the nearest town but, as they get to know each other, can they go their separate ways? And what secrets is Albert harbouring?
Stroud builds a world that is very different from the one we know today and there's a strong feel of the wild west about it: lawlessness, fortified towns where laws are localised and cages in the centre for those who break those laws. Gun slinging and banks heists are common-place; yet there's also an element of the future hidden in there as well. I don't want to give too much away but there are creatures lurking in lagoons; people with secrets they don't want to reveal and evolved beasts that lurk in the shadows.
Scarlett is a fiercely independent young woman who relies on nobody but herself. She is adept with both a knife and a gun, and sassy enough to waltz into a bank and steal their money. She reacts on instincts and knows where she is going. In short, she is surviving in a world that's very different to ours in the only way she knows how: by never looking back. In contrast, there's Albert Browne who Scarlett stumbles on, hiding in a toilet after his coach has been attacked. He seems weak and unable to fend for himself and relies heavily on Scarlett, but the more I got to know him, the more he grew on me, in particular his ability to make me chuckle. His attitude and speech will make you smile.
Fast-paced and gripping, this is an action-packed adventure that is the very thing the YA market is crying out for. The leap from MG to YA is a difficult one as the majority of YA seems to be romance based. This is going to tap into that missing link in the YA market.
O's Additional Opinions:
From the start, I enjoyed the independence and resourcefulness of Scarlett, and her perseverance was especially prominent throughout the novel. I think her principles are definitely things to be copied and replicated in the real world, just not in the way she carries them out! Her level-headedness helped her out in tricky situations as well. This was useful, especially with Albert in tow! Scarlett will definitely be a role model for independent children everywhere, but also for those lacking confidence. As a teenager, I loved having something different to read and this novel, as Mum has already said, will fill a big gap in the market. A book that will be enjoyed by many.
Due to release 1st April.