Book Review: Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes


Author: Sarah Ann Juckes

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publisher: Penguin Random House Children’s UK

Publication Date: January 3rd 2019

Format: eARC (288 pages)

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The Proof of the Outside follows the story of Ele, who is held captive in a small room by a man known as ‘Him’. Ele is determined to prove there is a world Outside. And when she finds a hole in the wall, the proof starts leaking in. In this dark and compelling debut novel, Ele’s strong and heartbreakingly optimistic voice shines through, revealing an important lesson about the power of stories to save lives.

My Rating: ★★★★★

Outside is a captivating debut novel from UKYA author Sarah Ann Juckes. It is fast-paced, full of layered and wonderful characters and comes together in a shocking and emotional finale.

It’s hard to review this story without spoilers, so I’ll be keeping it fairly brief. This is the kind of book where the less you know, the better the reading experience.

Outside tells the story of Ele and the Others. From the outset we know there is something different about Ele. The way she describes the world around her is almost not human and it did take me a little while to grasp that. However, once I had adapted to Ele’s way of thinking I couldn’t get her unique voice out of my head. Phrases such as ‘sun bars’ which I quickly figured out were lights had me both confused and curious. Where exactly was Ele? What was happening to her?

As the revelations were made about Ele, her life, the Others and Him, I could feel the tension slowly building. I could kind of see where the book was going but even then there were still plenty of surprises in the final few chapters.

One of my favourite things about this book was Ele’s imagination when it came to the Outside. Being Inside for her whole life Ele’s only imagery of the Outside comes from books and her escape into fiction. It was really endearing when reading the way in which this effects what Ele expects from the Outside. The expects dragons, Princes, Princesses and evil giants. To her, that is what the Outside is all about. I loved the idea of books being real in her mind because like so many people I use reading to escape the real world myself.

Ele’s character is strong, her voice is unique but feels incredibly authentic thanks to the clever writing style used by Juckes. Her strength is admirable; I really don’t think I would be able to do half of what she does. Her emotions are clear and I felt both sympathetic and empathetic towards her. I do also need to give a nod to Ezra-Dad who was quite possibly my favourite character in the whole book. It was lovely to see such a positive role model in him and to see the way in which he adapted and changed whilst Ele was around. Wesley was also a wonderful character.

Overall I thought that Outside was a really captivating and emotional read. A story of true human spirit and the strength we can all find within us should we need to. Ele’s voice will stick with me for a long time.

Thanks to the author, Penguin and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Have you read Outside? Is it on your TBR?

What story would you like to escape into?


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7 responses to “Book Review: Outside by Sarah Ann Juckes

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