Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community?
When I read the summary above, I was intrigued. Very intrigued. This story is unique. On the one hand, we have the Amish and their peaceful lifestyle. On the other, we have grisly horror. Both exist in this story. It was odd at first, because the book starts out with the extreme goodness of the Amish, and then we get the grisly, horrific details of the murderous things outside the Amish community. At first, it was difficult to reconcile the two, but, once I did, the story flowed quite well.
I really liked Katie. She felt real, and her personality, morals, and ideals shone through in her actions very well—like paying for her stolen medicine. Her internal conflict between the life she’d been born into and the life outside the gates felt very real. Many people go through this, and it’s not easy. I thought the author handled this well (except for some of her decisions at the end—that felt like too much too fast).
I do think that there were many missed opportunities for tension, and, as a result, the pacing suffered a bit. This story is kind of a mix between character-driven and plot-driven, and the character-driven part was done well. I so wish there had been a bit more oomph to the plot, and a few more interactions with the ‘bad guys.’ Especially considering who some of those bad guys turned out to be. The Elders also didn’t make much sense sometimes. They love power, and information is power, so I didn’t believe they would do some of the things they did.
I also didn’t completely buy the romance. Alex supposedly lost the love of his life, but he doesn’t seem very upset by this. I liked the friendship that they formed, but it seemed to evolve too quickly and too easily. I liked Katie’s confusion and rebellion surrounding it, but I didn’t quite believe where she ended up regarding Alex.
I loved how the story ended, though. It felt real and natural. If there is a sequel, I’ll be reading it.