This really is more of a horror/thriller in my opinion but I did enjoy it, I was just surprised. Something happens in the "outside" world. People in the local towns, included some members of Katie's community, have disappeared and when it is investigated, stores have left lights on, windows are broken, and shops are ransacked. What else Katie finds is death, and a lot of it. There is quite a bit of violence in this book. It actually reminded me a bit of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (which I loved). Heads were definitely rolling on a several occasions in the story.
Katie herself, in my opinion, is a typical confused teenager. She loves her community but also wants the experience of the outside world. The author does a nice job using Katie's thoughts and feelings to share the inner conflict she is experiencing. She has what seems to be just the right amount of disobedience to allow the reader to recognize that maybe the Amish life isn't meant for her. The expectation is that she will return, be baptized, marry, and take her place in the community. Only part of her isn't quite sure what she wants and, as the book continues, she begins to realize that her community isn't the trusting, safe place she thought it was. Katie is an extremely strong character even though the reader can also sense her vulnerability. You can see and feel her terror in each violent scene but she continues to move forward and do what has to be done.
The relationships in the story are interesting. Elijah is portrayed as her best friend and future husband and she is content with that at the beginning, even almost looks forward to it. I liked Elijah until about the middle of the story when he began to change and in my opinion, show some of his true colors. Alex, on the other hand, represents the exact opposite of contentment. He represents disobedience and passion. He treats her as an equal rather than someone who needs to be obedient. When the terror on the outside finds its way into the community, she makes some major life decisions that not only affect her but the safety of all the community. I agreed with all of them and was actually happy with the final events in the book even though it left me wanting more.
The book deals with a few heavy themes. Trust, faith, life decisions, love, self worth. All handled very well. There is a sequel to this book called, The Outside. I definitely plan on picking it up.