“Whatever the information is that’s in my head, those people are terrified of it. They’re scared the way people get when it comes to really big things. Like diseases. Like wars. It’s like there’s… something coming.”
Runner, by Patrick Lee
Minotaur Books, February 2014
268 pages (ebook)
Sam Dryden, retired special forces, lives a quiet life in a small town on the coast of Southern California. While out on a run in the middle of the night, a young girl runs into him on the seaside boardwalk. Barefoot and terrified, she’s running from a group of heavily armed men with one clear goal – to kill the fleeing child. After Dryden helps her evade her pursuers, he learns that the eleven year old, for as long as she can remember, has been kept in a secret prison by forces within the government. But she doesn’t know much beyond her own name, Rachel. She only remembers the past two months of her life – and that she has a skill that makes her very dangerous to these men and the hidden men in charge.
Dryden, who lost his wife and young daughter in an accident five years ago, agrees to help her try to unravel her own past and make sense of it, to protect her from the people who are moving heaven and earth to find them both. Although Dryden is only one man, he’s a man with the extraordinary skills and experience – as a Ranger, a Delta, and five years doing off-the-book black ops with an elite team. But, as he slowly begins to discover, the highly trained paramilitary forces on their heels is the only part of the danger they must face. Will Rachel’s own unremembered past be the most deadly of them all?
*** I requested this review copy through NetGalley. ***
Runner is a case of “great + okay = good.” There were parts of it I really liked, and times I completely lost myself in the book. But then there were other parts where I was bored, confused, or just not enjoying it.
The story is a great one. I wanted to read this because the summary intrigued me, and in that I wasn’t disappointed. We have this girl who’s extremely powerful but doesn’t know how or why. Even through the slower parts of the book, the mystery of Rachel’s identity was enough to keep me reading. And I was extremely satisfied with the direction her story took.
One other thing I liked was the fact that we see a couple of common tropes – for example, a seemingly random hook-up between two characters (don’t worry, it’s not Dryden and Rachel) – but they actually have a purpose and a reason that makes sense within the story. In these moments, I really appreciated the awareness, that the author gives his story something expected and then turns it around.
It was almost enough to make up for a totally unnecessary male fantasy scene (which was, of course, not given the same treatment).
The most frustrating thing about Runner was that at moments it was absolutely brilliant, and then at other moments it just felt like an average cookie-cutter thriller. Fast-paced and entertaining, to be sure… but I can’t help thinking that it could have been even better than it was.
Runner is available in print, as well as for Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers.
Does Runner sound like something you’d pick up? When’s the last time you read a book that manipulated the tropes of its genre in a really successful way?