By Author / Illustrator
Representation & Inclusion
Usborne Publishing Ltd
Paperback / softback
"You know, when you live in a time of progress, it seems that progress is the only possible way. The idea that everything we'd gained, all of those hard-won rights, could be taken away from us, and that open minds could be closed again? But then the Outrage happened."Welcome to England, where the Protectorate enforces the Public Good. Here, there are rules for everything - what to eat, what to wear, what to do, what to say, what to read, what to think, who to obey, who to hate, who to love. Your safety is assured, so long as you follow the rules.
Gabriel is a natural born rule-breaker. And his biggest crime of all? Being gay. Gabriel knows his sexuality must be kept secret from all but his closest friends, not only to protect himself, but to protect his boyfriend. Because Eric isn't just the boy who has stolen Gabriel's heart. He's the son of the chief inspector at Degenerate Investigations - the man who poses the single biggest threat to Gabriel's life. And the Protectorate are experts at exposing secrets.
A book billed as 'The Handmaid’s Tale for LGBTQ+ YA' was never going to be a comfortable read but nothing can quite prepare the reader for the harsh and shocking reality of The Outrage. The very best speculative fiction works because it creates a world we believe to be completely and terrifyingly possible - even recognisable. In The Outrage, Hussey skilfully writes an all-too plausible future England ruled over by a far-right government led by a stop-at-nothing, power-hungry Protector, where immigrants are seen as Degenerates, homosexuality is illegal and needs 'fixing', food is in short supply, healthcare is non-existent, libraries have been closed down 'because no-one used them', and books and media not promoting the government's message have been banned. This is a society in which there are strict rules for everything. Inevitably, and thankfully, such societies have rule breakers and rebels - wannabe film-maker Gabe, determined to fight for a freer and fairer future, whose only crime is being gay - and in love, in secret, with the son of the Chief Inspector of Degenerate Investigations himself...
The skill of the dystopian world-building in The Outrage is more than matched by the strength of the characterisation and careful plotting. We care deeply for sensitive, determined Gabe and his loyal group of Rebel friends and allies who stand up for each other even when it would be easier to back down - and we fear for their future from the very first chapter. The clever flipping back and forward in time of the narrative from Now to Then fills in the back story for each of the characters making them more rounded and believable, ramping up the tension with every chapter. Even the characters we don't see - the Librarian responsible for hiding boxes of now illicit DVDs from recent past popular culture - feel very real. The way these DVDs are interwoven into the story to explain the recent history of LGBTQ+ rights is nothing short of genius and creates the superb ending to the story, an ending which shows the importance of fighting for representation and respect, an ending which offers hope of a brighter future for everybody.
The Outrage is so much more than a completely unforgettable dystopian thriller, it is also a swoony, same-sex love story you’ll become completely wrapped up in. Every school library needs several copies so that every single student can see themselves positively represented. It is also the perfect choice for a tutor reading programme at KS4/5, offering so much to talk about - homophobic language, trans rights and transphobia, terrorist attacks, repatriation, hate crimes, climate change and ethnic cleansing to name but a few. The Discussion Questions included at the end are detailed and thought-provoking. The excellent Foreword by Jay Hulme and Afterword by the author put the story into context today and show how much PHSE, History and Media Studies Departments need this astonishing book too.
It will make you cry, make you angry and, most importantly, make you want to act to make a difference. It is a book you won’t forget reading, a warning that we cannot be complacent, that the root causes of hatred must be tackled and that the recent small victories in the UK are very fragile and could all too easily and suddenly be taken away. It is a book that will both appeal to, and appal, YA readers. It is a book which, to borrow the words of Gabe, "has the power to change minds. Even save lives".
416 pages / Reviewed by Eileen Armstrong, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 14+