#7 “Run” by Gregg Olsen

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  1. City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare
  2. Every Word – Ellie Marney
  3. Skinjob – Bruce McCabe
    i.     Bloodlines – Richelle Mead
    ii.   The Golden Lily – Richelle Mead
    iii. The Indigo Spell – Richelle Mead
    iv. The Fiery Heart – Richelle Mead
  4. Silver Shadows – Richelle Mead
  5. Looking For Alibrandi – Melina Marchetta
  6. Goose – Dawn O’Porter
  7. Run – Gregg Olsen
  8. Love Letters to the Dead – Ava Dellaira
  9. Stoner – John Williams
  10. The Wrong Girl – Zoë Foster
  11. A Fatal Tide – Steve Sailah
  12. Murder in Mississippi – John Safran
  13. Elianne – Judy Nunn
  14. Being Jade – Kate Belle
  15. Martha in the Mirror – Justin Richards
  16. Shining Darkness – Mark Michalowski
  17. The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  18. Divergent – Veronica Roth
  19. Insurgent – Veronica Roth
  20. Allegiant – Veronica Roth
  21. The Messenger – Markus Zusak
  22. Fragile Things – Neil Gaiman
  23. The Mammoth Book of Angels and Demons
  24. Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
  25. NOS4R2 – Joe Hill
  26. The Gospel of Loki – Joanne M. Harris
  27. Hades – Candice Fox
  28. Last Night at Chateau Marmont – Lauren Weisberger
  29. Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
  30. Are You Seeing Me? – Darren Groth

Whoa. That’s all I can really say after finishing this book: Whoa. I kind of wish I could leave this review there but I should probably explain myself. Just a little.

This wasn’t a book I would have bought off my own bat. The cover is threatening, what with the knife in the middle of the U, and at 244 pages Run is a lot shorter than anything I have read in years. I can be a bit of a book snob in some respects and book length is one of them. If a book is too thin I usually skip right past it. Short books are for kids, I usually think, and I look for the closest book that’s double its length.

Run definitely is NOT for kids.

Run was one of the three books I won in a competition hosted by Francoise over at My Crazy Bookish World a few months ago. I haven’t won anything since I was in Year Four and won first AND second prize in our class’ Easter raffle so this was especially thrilling. And to win three books in the middle of my book buying hiatus was glorious. New books for the price of nothing. There’s really nothing better.

The best thing about this competition was that I was given the chance to read books that I never usually read. Like the ones I got from #NBBF14. I get so set in my genres that it takes something pretty drastic to break me out of them. Getting books for free? Definitely drastic enough for me to break free of fantasy’s enchantment (see what I did there?).
I’m not entirely sure why I have such a problem with short novels. I mean, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut was short and it was a masterpiece. An insane masterpiece, but a masterpiece just the same. In actuality, Run is the perfect length. If it were any longer the story would just drag on and on without getting anywhere. As it is, every single page is fast-paced and leaves you breathless. Not many books can do that to me. The danger never seems dangerous enough. At least, not to me.

Enter Rylee, our anti-heroine. The book opens with her walking into her house to her younger brother, Hayden, crying. She thinks it’s for attention, as per usual, until she sees her stepfather, Rolland, pinned to the kitchen floor by the hunting knife stabbed through his chest. In shaky, bloody letters painted on the kitchen floor by Rolland’s dying hand is the word “Run”.
We are thrown into a world of misdirection, darkness, and nightmares. The first lines of this book tell us essentially everything we need to know:

MY NAME IS RYLEE AND I AM A LIAR, BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT I WAS RAISED TO BE.

We first think, for a few seconds, that Rylee is your typical angsty teen dealing with judgmental mother who dotes on her youngest child. This quickly passes once we see Rolland. And then we wonder, why has Rylee been raised to lie? This seems to go against every parenting manual on the planet. And when we discover that ‘run’ is not a warning but a code word, we start to wonder what kind of family we’ve stumbled in on. Rylee quickly takes hold of the horrifying situation and gets her and her brother out of the house as quickly as possible, crushing down her emotions while trying to deal with Hayden’s.

After suffering through Josephine Alibrandi‘s wimpy selfishness, I found Rylee to be a refreshing change of pace.

In all honesty, I found the beginning of this story hard to swallow. There’s so much happening that it was hard for me to cement any of the characters in my head. But as I got settled into Olsen’s pace, I realised that we learn a lot about the characters in that opening sequence. Characterisation through action? I love it! Plus, there is a lot of intrigue surrounding Rylee’s family. We learn that Rylee is not actually her real name, and that the family goes through the “switch” at least once a year to avoid the man who’s hunting them. The “switch” is when Rylee, her brother, her mother, and her step-father choose new names and a new home out of a bowl and  move away. It’s intense, intriguing, and infuriating because we don’t know why this happens until Chapter Five. I actually really loved this  because it made me feel like I was part of the tension; tension which comes to a climax in one of the most harrowing sentences I have ever read in a book that is classed as Young Adult:

Your father is Alec Richard Rader. He is a serial killer. I was the victim who got away.

I haven’t marked this as a spoiler because I don’t really see it as one. This happens very early on in the story and was one of the things that made me devour this book in just under 24 hours. How can you not want to know what happens next?
The rest of the story is adrenalin-filled, topsy-turvy, shadowy, threatening, and awesome. I don’t want to give any more of the plot away except this one last tidbit: Run is the first book in Olsen’s new series called Vengeance. However, this could easily be a standalone novel. The main storyline is wrapped up. All that’s left is what Rylee chooses to do after she has finished that which she sets out to.

In so many of the books I read, the heroine is a stand-up citizen. Always doing the right thing, always honest, and always kind. Rylee accomplishes the first and third things in that list to the best of her ability, but here’s the kicker: she lies. As she warns us at the beginning of the novel, she was brought up to lie. Lies keep her safe. Lies let her live. Lies are all that she knows. I have never read a book, apart from Artemis Fowl, where I’m rooting for the bad guy. Not that Rylee is necessarily bad, but she does bad things for the right reasons. Or what she thinks are the right reasons. It makes for an interesting book when you know that what someone is doing is wrong, but you still like them. It also means that the author is singularly gifted. I love it. I also love the fact that Olsen worked in a bit of a love interest. I mean, it is YA after all. It’s to be expected.

Probably the coolest thing in Run, besides the characters and the plot, was the way Olsen started each chapter. It reminded me of a video game, not that I play many of those. At the beginning of each chapter we are given a list:

  • Cash
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Weapons
  • Plan

These change as the story progresses. I thought it was such a beautiful little detail. I felt like this was actually Rylee running through these things in her head before she acts in any of the scenarios in which she finds herself. So, not only is it a character building thing, it’s also a genius writerly thing. Awesome!

★★★★ 1/2

Just one final thing before I leave you and finally embark on the rest of my Bloodlines re-read. The genii over at Hot Key Books decided to have this tiny little key on the bottom of the back covers of their books. It’s a great way of summarising a story and grabbing people’s attention after reading the blurb. Or even in spite of the blurb. I think all publishers could learn a thing or two!

 

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Seriously, how helpful are these keys? Just FYI the bottom book is “Run”.

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About Bec Graham

Bec Graham, 24, was born on the wrong continent. Everything from her burns-like-paper skin tone to her inability to cope with the slightest hint of a hot day suggests she should have been born under the gloomy skies and mild sun of the UK. She hopes writing will get her to her rightful home one day. Failing that, she scans the skies for a spinning blue police box, hoping to catch a lift back to the motherland.
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7 Responses to #7 “Run” by Gregg Olsen

  1. Pingback: The Chocolate Book Tag | My Infernal Imagination

  2. Gregg Olsen says:

    I loved your review. Made my dark heart sing! Thank you so much!

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