Review Blog

May 27 2014

Run by Gregg Olsen

cover image

Hot Key Books, 2014. ISBN 9781471401855.
(Age: Teens) Gregg Olsen knows how to create a page turning crime thriller mystery but in Run the main character is fifteen, an unlikely hero for this genre. Somehow he makes it work. What could be improbable becomes probable, the unbelievable believable.
The novel starts at a zipping pace and doesn't let up. Rylee comes home from school and finds her father dead with a knife through his chest, her mother missing and the word RUN scrawled in blood on the floor. Far from breaking down Rylee heeds the advice and together with brother Hayden flees the scene. We learn through Rylee's flashbacks that 'running' is part of her everyday experience - her family has been running all their lives. This fact helps the reader accept Rylee's actions throughout the story. Her mother has taught her 'not to trust anyone' as well as a few other not so legal means of surviving.
At the beginning of each chapter Rylee lists the state of her situation: Cash, Food, Shelter, Weapons, Plan. This clever device provides the reader with the changing nature of Rylee's circumstances. Very early in the story Rylee leaves Hayden with a newly discovered Aunty and becomes the chaser instead of the runner as she searches for her mother and the man who has taken her. The plan becomes 'find mum, kill dad'.
The novel then turns to one of vengeance and retribution, with gruesome results, many of which are committed by the young girl who we first met when she was contemplating whether to have spaghetti for dinner and counting how many texts she had received from her boyfriend. Yet we still support her: she has justice on her side.
Needless to say there is resolution to this story but not without a few twists at the end which explore, though not deeply, the actions of Rylee's mother and the motivation behind the man she has discovered is her real father.
A disappointment of the novel came right at the end when Olsen so blatantly sets the stage for a sequel or even a series with his last lines, 'The people who understand where I come from are the people who matter. The ones . . .  I can help'. Do we now have a new super-hero in the making? The probable has now become the improbable - however I can see such a series having wide adolescent appeal.
Barb Rye

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