Excerpt from Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Out of the Blue

by Sophie Cameron

Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron X
Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron
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  • Published:
    May 2018, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Grace Symes
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Print Excerpt

ONE

Another Being falls as we're driving into Edinburgh. Not here—that would be lucky, and luck doesn't run in the Mackenzie family.

"Number eighty-five!" Rani shouts. "Just landed two minutes ago!"

She leans between the front seats, waving her phone like a newsboy hawking the evening paper. On the screen, a slim, copper-colored woman lies slumped over a pile of broken wood and burst watermelons. Golden blood trickles out from under the debris, tracing shimmering lines in the dust.

"Where is that?" I ask. Perry, our West Highland terrier, raises her head off my lap for a look, then gives a disinterested ruff and goes back to bird-watching through the car window.

"Malaysia again," Rani says. "Some market near Kuala Lumpur."

At least the Falls have improved my sister's geography; she was still calling it "Koala Lumper" last month. She taps the screen and a pixelated video stutters into action. The Being is only visible for a second before the crowd swoops. Tourists form a heaving scrum around the body; a woman emerges red-faced and grinning, clutching a handful of feathers. My stomach churns. I've seen dozens of clips like this—everybody has, by now—but they still make me want to throw up.

Dad's head swings between the video and the rain-spattered windscreen. "Is it badly damaged? Masculine or feminine?"

It. Always "it," not he or she, and "masculine" or "feminine" to describe how they look—as if the Beings were a style of jeans or a Spanish noun. The papers talk about them the same way; it's their way of making them seem less human. It's Dad's way of rationalizing his obsession with them.

"She's a woman, if that's what you mean," I say. "Besides, she's not just damaged, she's dead. No one could survive a fall that far."

"We'll see." Dad gives me one of those infuriatingly patronizing smiles that he does so well, and I have to physically bite my tongue to stop myself from snapping at him. Behind us, Rani keeps tapping through photos on Wingpin or 247being or one of the other hundred or so apps she's downloaded.

"This one looks young." She nudges her glasses up her nose. "Like, seventeen or eighteen."

"You're judging by human standards, though, pet," Dad says. "We don't know how time affects their bodies yet. It's possible that a Being who looks twenty in our terms could be a hundred, maybe even a thousand years old."

He launches into yet another speech about yet another theory, and yet again, I don't give a crap. Ever since the first Being fell almost eight months ago, our house has been like the Michael Mackenzie Center for Really Boring Theological Research. I can't even remember the last time he asked if Rani had lunch money or if I'd done my homework. He's too busy cutting articles out of newspapers, sticking pins and Post-its onto maps, chatting with Wingdings—a not-so-polite term for angel chasers—in Germany and New Zealand and Japan.

"At the moment it's difficult due to the different chemical composition of their teeth, but scientists think they may be able to calculate their ages by the end of this year…"

He natters on and on, getting so caught up in his tales that he misses the change of the traffic lights and a pissed-off lady in a 4x4 beeps her horn at him. Rani nods and "mmms" and "uh-huhs" along. I'm pretty sure that even she, eleven-time winner of Daddy's Girl of the Year, can't actually be interested in the levels of linoleic acid in the Beings' fingernails, but she puts on a good act.

I stick my earbuds in and gaze out of the window, nodding along to imaginary music. (My iPod ran out of battery just before we passed Pitlochry, but I've learned it's easier to pretend I can't hear Dad's ramblings.) Outside, the drizzly city streets pass by in a blur. Seagulls swoop across the pale gray sky, on the hunt for food. Perry whines and scratches at the door.

Excerpted from Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron. Copyright © 2018 by Sophie Cameron. Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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