• The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne

  • The Outlaws, Book 1
  • By: Jonathan Stroud
  • Narrated by: Sophie Aldred
  • Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (150 ratings)

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The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne  By  cover art

The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne

By: Jonathan Stroud
Narrated by: Sophie Aldred
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Publisher's Summary

Action! Humor! Fantasy! "Kicking off a new series with a bang (several bangs, in fact), Stroud sends two young fugitives with murky pasts fleeing murderous pursuers across a fractured future Britain." - Kirkus Reviews, starred

**Soon to be a motion picture starring Phoebe Dynevor of Bridgerton!**

Scarlett McCain is a shoot-first ask-questions-later kind of outlaw. She scrapes by on bank heists, her wits - and never looking back.

She’s on the run from her latest crime when she comes across Albert Browne. He is the sole survivor of a horrific accident, and against her better judgement, Scarlett agrees to guide him to safety.

This is a mistake. Soon there are men with dogs and guns and explosives hot on their heels. Scarlett’s used to being chased by the law, but this is extreme. It was only a little bank she’d robbed....

As they flee together across the wilds, fighting off monstrous beasts, and dodging their pursuers, Scarlett comes to realize that Albert Browne is hiding a terrible secret. And that he may be the most dangerous threat of all.

In this fast-paced, quick-witted whirlwind of a story, Jonathan Stroud introduces two unlikely allies - the outlaws Scarlett and Browne - who are about to become the most notorious renegades in all that’s left of Britain.

©2021 Jonathan Stroud (P)2021 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

"The vivid setting, rapid-fire dialogue, and nonstop action will propel readers through this raucous, rousing rumble. A blast for action fans, with potential for a long run." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"Just the kind of setting where adventure fantasy thrives. Add razor-sharp banter and you can lay the smart money on another Stroud winner." (Bulletin, starred review)

"Stroud expertly builds flawed characters, cahoots close and tender, and a fully realized setting in this rollicking series opener, employing arch phrasing, witty rapport, and quick pacing alongside the brutally rendered truths of a world intent on controlling outlaws of every type." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

What listeners say about The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Missing Originality

By the end of the book, I felt like I had read this before: all the cliches from the genre (especially the dystopian YA boom of the early 2000s) are here: roadtrip across a ravaged landscape outside of isolated cities, mutated murderous creatures, special snowflake protagonist with unique world-saving abilities, and societies that have devolved to be just as amoral/brutal as the monsters outside their strongholds. I can't even list the number of times I have read/watched this story in the past 25 years especially (even going back to 1970s movies like Damnation Alley or Omega Man or more modern ones like I am Legend). There just wasn't anything new here. This was especially frustrating in the face of recent books such as the Smoke Eaters series by Season Grigsby- which turned the genre on its head.

Stroud's usual morally ambivalent characters are present - but lacking in the good sense, logic, or even likability assets. Where the leads in Lockwood & Co were intriguing in their flaws, the leads Scarlett and Albert were very hard to get behind. Scarlett spends most of the book being flippant and annoying while Albert was supposed to be more of a blank page. Especially in the audio book, Albert comes off as particularly slow witted, even with POV sections explaining why he is the way he is. There is character development on his part, at least, but I was almost wishing the book could have been written without Scarlett at all.

The other big issue is that we've seen these characters from Stroud before: very strong, logical, physically capable female teamed up with a 'head in the clouds', conflicted, distracted, and supernaturally powerful male. She will spend most of the book keeping him alive despite his best efforts to get himself killed accidentally. But unlike Lockwood & Lucy or Nathaniel & Kitty, there is no George or Bartimaeus to provide distraction and comic relief. In that regard, I think the book fell most flat. It desperately needed some levity since the attempts at making Scarlett sound scathingly funny or spontaneously amusing were labored and lacking sparkle. We need a distraction from Scarlett saving them and Albert being dense. And we needed characters who didn't follow the exact same pattern from series to series.

About the only thing original here for me was that this was set in England instead of the usual USA. But I wish we had seen more of a British version of a dystopian society because of that setting: in all honesty, except for travelling the Thames, I felt like this could have taken place anywhere. It felt like so much could have been done to really make this funny by exploring the quirkier aspects of British culture and society - and how they would have been affected by an apocalypse. Sadly, that wasn't the case.

Because there was some character development in Albert, I will continue the series. Stroud's works tend to pick up steam once you get past the initial premise and usually there are a lot of layers that will unfold as the protagonists learn more. I just hope it won't continue to be: travel, fight monster of the week, have Scarlett save Albert, have albert use his power and then not know how to use it again, repeat ad nauseum. Especially since the Lockwood & Co books are among my all time favorite reads.

Of note, I listened to the audio version and while the narrator was fine, I admittedly did not like the way she characterized Albert or Scarlett (it made it harder to like the character). I recommend listening to a sample first before purchasing).

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A Fun Ride, Gone Too Soon

A pretty good story I couldn't stop listening to, and I'm sad I'll have to probably wait years for the next one. I wouldn't say the plot was special, actually it was pretty basic and predictable, but it was written and narrated in a way that made it feel fresh and lively. There were some sections where I expected to be bored, simply because it was a familiar story be that usually would be boring, but stayed engrossed anyway. I think the only downside I have is that the ending felt a bit abrupt.

There's obviously got to be more coming, waaay too many things dropped and set up that never got even close to being answered. This book mostly put in place the setting, the characters and their dynamics, and the overall potential that now has free reign going forward. I'm confident whatever comes next will be better and more interesting than this already engaging story.

I stared this book right off the coattails of finishing the Lockwood & Co. series, and I think I might have like this book more. That might be due to the great narration though (I wasn't really a fan of the Lockwood & Co. narrators the second book and on). Scarlett's personality immediately reminded me of Flo Bones. Gruff personality with a kind heart, "can and frequently does say the F word" type. Albert is a good boy and a bit starry-eyed, though more than happy to help Scarlett do crimes. He's a "can say the F word but chooses not to" type. I really liked their dynamic and am excited to see what banks they rob next!

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not quite as joyous or intriguing as Bartimaeus or Lockwood but decent story with potential

Stroud is a genius storyteller. Everyone should give this book a chance. But the characters weren’t quite as gripping or charming or entertaining as I have come to expect. It would be hard to create someone to equal Bartimaeus- or the Skull- AND to envision yet another alternate Universe. I will be reading (listening to) all of what Jonathan Stroud releases. Sophie Aldred is a gifted reader. There ought to be a few more in this series as Scarlett and Brown solve their world’s problems. Look forward to it.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Hopes for growth

We are dealt here an interesting blend of common tropes (both longstanding and recent trends) -> red hair (=brave, action girl), "orphans", exclusion from mainstream life, teen protagonists that seem to do a lot killing, future cultures that are inevitably dystopian, and versions of evil that are easily identifiable by having religious garb. (So much for all that "respect for other cultures and religions" that we are taught in schools). The two kids are experiencing some inner reflection, but I will be sadly disappointed if the future installments don't give us more than a cute version of "Bonnie and Clyde".

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Meh

I really enjoyed Stroud’s other series so was looking forward to a fun read here. I liked the creativity of this one but found it way too predictable - in the individual events and in the broader story. The predictability was annoying, but it was still entertaining enough to finish the listen. For the most part, I liked the narrator. However, I could do without her voice for Albert. It increasingly irritated me as the story wore on.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Classic J Stroud fiction!

I really enjoyed the tight pros and witty humor of the Bartomea trilogy. Now this new series from Jonathan Stroud. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but if you are a Netflix subscriber and watch their highly popular sci-fi series that just finished its fourth series, you will find something very familiar in this book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Adventure meets Sci-fi Tale

Good old fashioned adventure book with a twist of what seems to be an apocalyptic future. Mixed in with a twist of scifi with Albert Brown (character in the book). Amazing performance by the reader. Sophie had such a pleasant voice but also action packed vocals as needed. Must listen!!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Another Good One

Stroud once again weaves an interesting and well fleshed out yarn. I’ll be looking forward to more installments of this new series.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Cute, but underwhelming

Put simply, this is probably one of Stroud's weakest stories. The Bartimaeus Series is vastly more entertaining (a more engaging world, fleshed out characters that have distinct opinions and grow, and an interesting/consistent magic system).
The voice actor for this book does a good job, but the story itself is entirely too predictable and cliched.

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Good

It started off slowly , but after a while it hooked me. I am looking forward to the next book, but not as much as i would for a new Lockwood. For me, it doesn't match up to Lockwood or Bartimaeus for originality or surprise, but it does still have Mr. Straud's flare for characters and lovely prose. Perhaps, this series is written for slightly younger audiences? Regardless, I'll read anything Mr. Stroud writes.