About the Books:
Eyes Wide Open:
I’m buried in a coffin under tons of concrete. No one knows where I am. My heart sounds like a monster with clobber feet, running straight toward me. I’m lying on my back, soaked with sweat from the hair on my head to the soles of my feet. My hands and feet won’t stop shaking.
Some will say that I’m not really here. Some will say I’m delusional. Some say that I don’t even exist. But who are they? I’m the one buried in a grave.
My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen. I’m about to die.
Thirteen-year-old orphan Alice Ringwald has no memory beyond six months ago. The only life she knows is the new one she’s creating one day at a time with the loving couple who recently adopted her and gave her new hope.
That hope, however, is shattered one night when a strange man comes to her door. Her real mother is alive, he says, and begs her to return home. When Alice won’t leave with him, the man forces his way into the house and abducts her.
In a frantic manhunt the FBI pursues, but the man slips through their figures. He and Alice vanish without a trace.
Seventeen-year-old Nyah Parks is a genius hacker who makes a living by cracking the firewalls of the world’s largest corporations. But when the biggest job of her life goes wrong, she’s plunged into a desperate situation with only one way out: one last hack that will either save her or kill her.
I received these books from the author/publisher for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.
I read this series back when the books were first released in 2014 and it is one that has stuck with me for years. It is one of the few series that I’ve actually taken the time to re-read and it certainly pops into my mind occasionally throughout the days.
Psychological thrillers are typically creepy and gruesome, but that’s not the case with The Outlaw Chronicles, though it is quite intense. Each book has a purpose and a message that surrounds it so intently that even though the story itself may leave the reader with more questions than answers (even after re-reading multiple times), the messages will commit itself to your memory and remain there.
The story opens with Eyes Wide Open, which was originally a mini novella series released in four parts (Identity, Mirrors, Unseen, and Seer). This book is one of the best hooks into a series I’ve ever read, because once you read the first chapter, there’s no turning back, you’ve become as involved in the story as Christy and Austin themselves; trapped in a psych ward that apparently only the two of them knows exists. The story spirals in and out of making sense, defying science and logic, all to come to a powerful ending that asks the readers, “who are you in this ever-changing and overwhelming culture”?
Identity. That’s the message of the entire first book.
The continuation of Eyes Wide Open, Water Walker, takes a turn towards a more emotion targeted storyline with its focus on young Alice and her abduction, rather than the mind-boggling intensity of Eyes Wide Open.
In Water Walker, we face the conflicting emotions of anger and love, the desire to seek revenge versus choosing to give forgiveness, and the frustrations of not knowing where Alice is, weaves this story together in such an intricate and very purposeful way. Christy and Austin from the first book do make an appearance in this book, but they are not main characters.
I would like to note that despite what many of the “obvious reasons” for Alice’s abduction may point to in the reader’s mind, Water Walker is not a crime thriller or disturbing child-abduction horror novel. The reason for her abduction is not at all what you may think and though there are certainly heart-wrenching and anger-inducing scenes, you needn’t brace yourself for any sexual actions taken against her or the fear of her stumbling upon gory, murdered bodies. The suspense is particularly set in trying to figure out the “why” to her situation, because nothing makes sense until the end. And perhaps even more powerful than the message from the first book, Water Walker gives you a worst case scenario story, and then challenges you to Forgive.
The last book, Hacker, is personally my very favorite installment in the series. Austin, from Eyes Wide Open, re-appears as a main character to aid Nyah in hacking projects–projects that could kill them. There are high stakes, adrenaline -pumping scenes, and realizations that leave the characters in frozen awe. It’s a story that revisits the topic of identity, but more than simply discovering one’s identity, Hacker inspires the reader to go deeper into who you are and learn to love the “imperfections” or “mistakes” that you would rather hack out of your life.
Another thing that gently whispers its name to the readers throughout all three books is trust. Trust in God’s plan, even when it doesn’t make sense and even if it defies logic and science (Eyes Wide Open). Trust in who He is and that He will bring the final judgement to those who oppress you, so that you can live your life with peace (Water Walker). And finally, trust that He doesn’t make mistakes, that for everything He has a purpose, and that surrendering to His divine plan will leave you in awe at His glory (Hacker).
Overall, The Outlaw Chronicles is a favorite series for my whole family and I easily give it 5 out of 5 stars. It does not have any sexual content or cursing, and semi-detailed/decently-detailed action and suspense.