Friday, 28 October 2011

Review: The Outcast by Patricia Bernard

This is one I have re-read because I was thinking about dystopians before a time when The Hunger Games made them super popular. I first read this book about 15 years ago and have re-read it many times since. Unfortunately, it seems to have gone out of print since then which makes me really sad because the whole series is just so good. 

 The Story:
In Fish's world, people are divided into two groups. The Megas live in Megalopolis and have knowledge chips implanted in their brains. These knowledge chips designate their status within society and gives them the power to build great machinery and even control the weather. The Zoners have long rejected the idea of knowledge implants and are forced to live in the four zones outside Megalopolis. Fish is a Mega-throwback, saved from being sacrificed at birth by his caring mother. In the tradition of his people, Fish is pushed over into the Arid Zone, an infertile perimeter around Megalopolis where Zoners must survive for a number of years as part of their initiation. He finds himself on a dangerous path, trying to live at peace with his Cluster and save a Mega from certain death.

My Thoughts:
I wish I could find a copy of this book for a giveaway because I would love to be able to share this gem with someone. The Outcast is one of those books that felt so ahead of its time. Set in an alternate dystopian future, The Outcast follows Fish on his journey of self discovery, where he will learn to make peace with himself and learn of his destiny as the  Rule Changer.
       As a Mega throwback, Fish has been shunned his entire life by his father, his twin older brothers and his community. The Zoners are a proud race of stocky, bronzed and fierce fighters. In contrast, Fish is tall, lean and light haired. The only love he feels is from his mother, who tries to shield him as much as she can from the hurtful world. Rather than succumb to self pity, Fish decides to study the fighting techniques of the animals he observes regularly. These skills come in handy when his mother can no longer hide his burgeoning adolescence from the village leaders and Fish is pushed over into the Arid Zone. Fish seeks out his older brothers Ant and Bird who at first don't want him in their Cluster. In order to join them Fish defeats Ant in physical combat using his self taught fighting skills and earns their grudging respect.
     When Bird hatches a plan to pass Fish off as a Mega so that they can steal food from Megalopolis, Fish is willing to go along with the idea to garner the approval of his new Cluster. What he finds inside Megalopolis tests everything he has ever known and throws him into the complicated world of knowledge chips, body harvesters and perhaps most frighteningly, love.
    The Outcast is unlike any other book I've ever read. The ideas are so unique and the plot is all kinds of exciting. There's not a moment of the story when I wasn't completely gripped and wanted to know more. There are twists and turns and I felt like the male POV was written remarkably well. Fish is not a hero who lets things happen to him. He goes out and fights for what he wants even if everyone wants to push him down. It's such a shame that the library copy is the only one I can get a hold of. I am so close to emailing the author.

The Rating:

* I read this book as part of my 2011 Aussie Authors Challenge.


  1. What an interesting story concept! I'm a little confused by one thing - what's a Mega "throwback", and why does it lead to his being shunned? Is physically different, or is it more of a knowledge-seeking thing?

    That's sad you couldn't find a copy. :( I'd be tempted to email the author, if you can find her - at the very least, she'll be happy to hear her story is still being loved and read.

  2. BJ: I always tend to write in the familIar dont I? As if everyone already knows what I'm talking about. A throwback is a reversion to a former characteristic, in this instance the two races, the Megas and the Zoners had a common ancestor but their distinctly different lifestyles have evolved them into physically different looking people. Fish is at least a full head taller, light eyed and haired and much skinnier than his Zoners family. Mega throwbacks are usually taken deep into the forest and left to die because they are a reminder of the Megas who are considered abominations. Zoner throwbacks also occur in Megalopolis and they are thrown off the pier for the body harvesters to use as fertilizer. I think I will email the author. It's funny to think of hooks going out of print. For some reason I just feel like a print book is eternal.

  3. I meant books not hooks. Stupid iPhone.

  4. Sounds great! A print book is eternal if you can find it and keep it in good health. *Pets her book shelf* My precious!

    Beth ^_^

  5. Holy Grapples Batman! I found a copy on amazon used for like wayyyy too much money -

  6. Did you intend that little pun? "When Bird hatches a plan..." Hee hee. It's a shame it's not out there in the world. :(

  7. I love a great unique, exciting book! Too bad it's out of print!

  8. Knowledge chips? That is the coolest concept ever! Sounds really interesting. I wonder if it's available through Abe Books. They sell all kinds of out-of-print books and some seriously expensive vintage ones, too. I just need the ISBN.

    Great review, Lan!

  9. Holy Moly! You'd need about $400 to get this one! I just looked it up on Amazon and Abebooks. The author needs to self-publish this on her backlist as an ebook. That'll take care of the high price tag.

    Send her an email, stat! Tell her to make it an ebook.

  10. Thanks for the clarification, Lan! I've heard the word throwback, just wasn't sure how it applied. Interesting about the two races evolving from common ancestor; very Cain and Abel.

  11. OMG!!! I refuse to pay that much for a book. too much money!!!

  12. Beth: I am completely anal retentive about my print books. I've even been known to buy a couple of copies of a book if I think it's really really good. The Outcast is great but not $140 great! Goodness.

    Jenny: LOL! I didn't even see that. Must be my great subconscious mind at work.

    Peggy & Sherre: I'm on a mission to try and get a copy now!

    Cathy: There are some truly unique concepts in this book. I'm going to try and email the author this week. If anything I just want to let her know how much I enjoyed her books.

  13. Thank you so much read tis book while i was at school years ago and i have been trying to find the name of it fot the last few months!


I believe in comment karma. Comment and I shall return :)