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The Scattering: The Outliers, Book 2

Book review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Scattering: The Outliers, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Sequel has more twists, turns but less all around.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn a little about anxiety, intuition, and government conspiracies.

Positive Messages

Trust your instincts, especially those who have extraordinary powers of intuition. Don't judge others based on preconceived notions. Work with friends, ask for help, and communicate clearly about what you need/want from others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Wylie is incredibly intelligent and is supernaturally intuitive. Wylie and Jasper are mature, intelligent, and protective of each other. Jasper is loving and supportive of Wylie. Both of them make mistakes, but they recognize them and work together to move forward and save others.

Violence

Characters are kept against their will, drugged with pharmaceuticals, pursued, and even imprisoned. A fire injures and kills young women in a facility. Wylie and Jasper are often running from or deliberately toward dangerous situations. Armed guards threaten women.

Sex

Two different couples kiss.

Language

Occasional strong language: "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "a--hole," "bulls--t," "bitch," "pissed," etc.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The Outlier girls are given pharmaceutical drugs. College-aged (but still underage) teens discuss how they get an upperclassman to buy them drinks. A few scenes occur in a bar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Scattering: The Outliers, Book 2 is the second installment in author Kimberly McCreight's twist-filled Outliers trilogy, about a young woman who realizes she's one a select few of adolescent girls who possess supernatural intuition. Like the first book, there are underlying mysteries and conspiracies that might be difficult for some readers to follow, especially if they aren't familiar with psychological thrillers. It's also not possible to understand the plot without having read the first book. The language is occasionally strong ("f--k," "f--king," "motherf--king," "a--hole," "s--t"), but most of that is due to the life-and-death circumstances in which the characters find themselves. There is a little bit of kissing, but several violent sequences in which characters are in peril, injured, or even kept against their will in shady facilities or prison.

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What's the story?

THE SCATTERING continues exactly where The Outliers leaves off, with Wylie and Jasper once again involved in perilous situations because of Wylie's Heightened Emotional Perception. After Wylie tries to save an apparently suicidal Jasper, Wylie is captured and kept against her will in a psychiatric facility that houses other Outliers like her. Some of the other Outliers don't know how to handle their gift, but one girl in particular understands how to close off her feelings so other Outliers can't "read"/perceive her emotions. With Jasper's help, Wylie (who must confront her feelings for Jasper, her dead best friend's ex-boyfriend) ends up escaping the institution. Meanwhile, her father, who first conducted the research on the Outliers phenomenon, has disappeared. Few questions are answered and many more are posed as the plot continues to take twists and turns.

Is it any good?

After a slower-than-expected first half, this thriller sequel eventually takes a dizzying amount of turns without satisfyingly resolving much or even furthering the story. That's not to say some readers won't find the tale riveting, but the plot allows so many supposedly dead or finished characters and plot lines to resurface that it takes readers on a virtually never-ending loop. It's easy, by the final melodramatic revelations, to feel less invested in Wylie, who makes a staggering number of ill-advised decisions for someone with extraordinary intuition, and Jasper. Their friendship was one of the best aspects of the first book, but in this second book, there was little progress in their obvious attraction and attachment.

Readers hoping for more clarity and romance will be slightly disappointed by The Scattering. It basically continues to throw a soap-opera-ish level of surprises into the mix, with few memorable supporting characters, except for Riel, a hacker with connections to the Outliers, and her boyfriend, Leo. One reason for some possible confusion is that author Kimberly McCreight expects readers to remember the characters and details of the first book and doesn't revisit the importance of certain plot points or supporting characters. McCreight will have a long list of questions to answer and unresolved plot threads to weave together in the final book.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in The Outliers. How does realistic violence affect readers differently from stylized or fantasy violence?

  • What do you think about the importance of intuition? Do you believe there are people who have extraordinary intuition skills? What distinguishes those people from others?

  • What do you want to see resolved in the third and final installment?

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