Out of the Blue: Read an excerpt from the hottest queer YA book of the season

My pulse is pounding so loud, I’m sure they’ll hear us. She deserves to be treated like one. She won’t hurt you.”
They say dogs can sense fear, but mine doesn’t notice the Being’s. Even if I could, there’s nowhere in the flat for her to stay—I can hardly stick her in the bottom bunk and hope Rani doesn’t notice. The ruin is just a shadowy lump before the glittering skyline, but there’s the tiniest bit of movement around it: the outline of a couple, kissing in the darkness. It’s okay, you’re okay!” I reach out a hand toward her, but the Being flinches and pulls away. She falls back to earth with a bump, then gets up and tries again. She teeters for a moment, but then her knees buckle and she slumps to the ground. Then something happens. Bad! There’s another light tearing sound, as if she’s ripped through gravity, and she begins to rise. As I watch, my thoughts of handing her over to Dad slowly curdle into sickly shame. Until then, EW has a taste of what all the buzz is about: Below, you can read an exclusive excerpt of Cameron’s debut. If Dad could see this. Perry climbs onto her knees and curls up in her lap, just like she would with Rani or me, then gives a lazy woof and starts licking at the scratches on the angel’s thighs. It’ll be a miracle if we can make it to the other side without anyone spotting us. It’s moving. The Being’s face contorts in pain as she beats the wings together. The feathers tickle the nape of my neck. She’s trapped here, on earth, with me. Perry bounds ahead, a white blur against the dark grass. I freeze. “We have to go.” I point toward the other side of the hill and mime running. I could get back to my friends, back to the village and my own room—
The Being lands with another dull thud. I move forward to catch her, but she screams and swings a punch at me. Her lip quivers, her eyes close, and she starts to cry. Then again, it’s a miracle she’s alive at all—maybe a second one isn’t too much to ask. Our hands only meet for a split second before she snatches hers away, but she grabs the lower branches of the tree and reluctantly pulls herself to her feet. Her right wing is torn down the middle, its pinkish feathers littering the ground. Dad might sell her to science, and I know better than to think those researchers would treat her kindly. There’s no way to escape. It’s perched on a low peak overlooking a pond, clearly visible from the road; three of its four walls have crumbled away, and the only one that’s left has several large windows gaping through it. I can’t let that happen. As we follow the path toward the foot of the hill, the rotting building comes into view. Images swirl around my head: dull eyes, a smashed skull, blood seeping into the ground. There are cigarette butts scattered on the grass, an empty beer bottle smashed in the corner, the initials HW+DR chipped into the stone. “It’s okay!”
I try to think, but my mind is full of white noise. The Being wipes her hand across her nose, still crying softly. The Being looks up, so surprised she forgets to keep crying, but then her entire body begins to tremble. I squint into the darkness. The Being sniffs. This is a dream. My hands are clenched so tight, the handle of Perry’s leash digs into my skin. Jaya MacKenzie, a teen grieving the recent death of her mother, moves to Edinburgh at the whim of her father, who’s obsessed with catching one of the winged Beings. She spreads her wings flat, or as flat as she can given the state the right one is in. The left, however, is perfect: a vast sail of feather and sinew, curving in a slick arch three feet above her head. The wings move faster, but instead of taking her higher, she just spins in a jerky circle, arms and legs flailing like she’s treading water. I need to find somewhere to hide her, and fast: other people are sure to have noticed the streak of pink in the sky as she fell, and it won’t be long until they head up here to investigate. “Come on,” I whisper. Shhh!” I stumble forward, my palms up. I open my eyes and see a bulky shape stuck in a tree on the edge of the hill, just a few hundred yards away. Not again. “No! The cults would be worse. She starts to copy my movements, thrusting her right leg back and forward like a broken football player in a FIFA game. Until now, I hadn’t even given it a second thought. “You’re not safe here. “Um,” I say. “It’s okay! Check it out, and pre-order Out of the Blue here. But for some reason I keep running. He came here to find a Being. Her mouth twists in disgust; mine opens and closes a dozen times, but I can’t form any words. I cannot, cannot see that. The shape shifts. She’d probably end up as a pet for some billionaire’s bratty kids, or as a sort-of-human sacrifice. It doesn’t come. The touch of her skin is soft as mist, like she’s hardly there at all. I should help her. “No, shhh! Look, like this.”
She follows my lead as I ease into a crouching position. It would be the simplest solution, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I have to help her. She can’t stay here, but there’s no way I can walk her back to our flat without her being swamped by a hundred Wingdings en route. My breath catches in my throat. The Being is limping, and her right wing is drooping so low it almost brushes the grass. She beats them a second time, creating a gust of wind so strong it sends me staggering backward, my hair whipping around my face. This is really, really damn ironic. Wherever she comes from, they clearly don’t have dogs there. “Did you hear something?” “You’re imagining things. We have to go!”
Her expression stays blank. I come in peace? I pull the Being back and crouch down by some gorse bushes. I wait for bones cracking, a neck snapping. I kick the rubbish out of the way, clearing a space for the Being on the ground. I duck, and a great ripping sound tears through the air. I can see the panic begin to set in. I tell Perry to stay, pull the hoodie back over the Being’s shoulders, and sprint back down the hill. The tree’s trunk groans, and with a strangled yelp, a Being slips through the branches and comes tumbling down to earth. I press myself against the wall, my heart in my mouth. And that means getting her out of here. A voice comes floating out of the darkness. The ruin is much more exposed than I realized. There’s a noise that sounds like fabric ripping, another of wood breaking. Not scared of the dark, are you?”
The girl laughs and pulls the boy toward her. I don’t want to see that. Now that I’ve done his job for him, we could probably go back home. She runs off, yanking on the leash so hard I almost fall into the bracken. My mouth goes dry. Past the pond, headlights sweep across the road. And this time, for the first time since the Falls began, the Being is alive. She puts her hand on Perry’s haunches, then snatches her fingers away as if she’s been scalded. I should get Dad, let him know he was right. “We’re almost there.”
We scramble up a steep, rocky slope, the Being grunting a little as the stones dig into her bare feet. she?—flounders between the leaves, thrashing and kicking. The sky is pitch black now and it’s hard to see where we’re going, although her skin glows like dying embers in the darkness. Welcome to earth, population seven billion? (Not very successfully, given the pterodactyl-size wings attached to her back.) She’s completely naked underneath. “Shhh! “I’ll go home and get you some clothes, and then we’ll figure something out, okay?”
It’s far from ideal, but right now it’s all I can think of. Everything about her, from her eyes to the tentative way she strokes Perry, is just too human. If the Wingdings could see this. Her eyes flick past my shoulders, over the place where there should be wings but aren’t. “Hello.”
My voice breaks the spell. Her cheekbones are sharp, her lips thick, her eyes the color of garnet in the dim light—eyes that are wide and twitchy, darting around the hill and up to the sky before settling on me. My brain is a swamp, but one idea keeps bubbling up to the surface: I need to get Dad. Her skin is a shimmering shade of rose gold, and her hair falls in dusky pink tangles around her shoulders. She strokes her fur, her expression veering from fear to wonder. Out of the Blue was won at auction by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, and is already scoring strong reviews. She’s young, maybe eighteen or nineteen in our terms, and small but muscular, like an athlete or a ballet dancer. She’s not like any of the others I’ve seen (or what was left of them, at least). She screams something in a language I can’t understand, though it hardly sounds like a language at all: more like whale song and waves and high-pitched pipes, all blended together with the volume turned up. I poke my head over the bushes. Relief radiates out of her as she floats upward: six inches, a foot, a meter… A fault line of fear shudders through her and she scrambles backward, scraping her wings against the gnarled tree trunk. There’s some shuffling and lip smacking as they kiss again. She happens upon the first Being to survive a crash landing on Earth, a chance encounter which kicks off a touching LGBT romance and sets the stage for thoughtful takes on disability, grief, and sexuality. I don’t know what to say. This part of the hills is stark, with hardly any trees or bushes for cover. But I don’t have time to think about why it’s happening, or what it all means. My stomach flutters with nerves. This is madness. The noise swells, her sobs growing louder and louder until Perry starts to howl along. My eyes are scrunched shut. It’s a slow process. I should hide her. Footsteps crunch on the stones, but then there’s silence. “I’ll come back,” I tell the Being. Safe to say: Its May 15 publication date is eagerly anticipated. After a moment, though, she touches Perry’s back. It—he? And a third time, and a fourth. But then she starts to wobble. Not because I found her, not because it’s my destiny or any crap like that, but because she is, quite obviously, a person. There’s only one question on my mind:
Where the hell am I going to hide an angel? The night air is starting to nip at my skin, but I shrug my arms out of my hoodie and put it around her shoulders. Thousands of pounds’ worth of Being’s blood, being eaten by my dog. A major debut in the queer YA space is almost here: Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron. “That was too close,” I murmur. They’d probably slice her open like a lab rat, pull her wings apart to find what makes her fly, maybe even try to inseminate her to create half-angel babies or some weird shit like that. (Oh my God, Dad was right—he’s going to be unbearable when he finds out.)
The Being grabs the lowest of the tree’s branches and hauls herself up on trembling legs. Not safe! As this provocative thriller begins, metallic gender-neutral “Beings” are falling out of the sky: What remains of them are commodified and exploited, and cults are emerging in the wake of their arrival. The car glides by, disappearing around the corner and past the Parliament. This time, she doesn’t get up. Excerpt from Out of the Blue, by Sophie Cameron
I wait for the crash. And then Perry begins to bark. Slowly, I edge my hand toward her and slide my fingers into hers. Even in the darkness, the fibers of the feathers glisten like oil on water: countless shades of pink, speckled with tiny hints of azure and turquoise and teal. “Shit!”
I fall to the ground, pulling the Being down with me. I remember the ruined building on one of the lower peaks, where I saw the photographer taking pictures on my way up. The couple have disappeared. I run full speed after her, sprinting until
I’m just a few meters from the tree. We stare at each other, this angel and me, both of us too shocked to move. I wait for that aching thwunk, the sound of a body breaking against the earth.

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