Friday, February 7, 2014

Review of The Runner by J.M. Johnson

I received a copy of J.M. Johnson's debut novel, The Runner in exchange for an honest review.  The Runner is a Young Adult Dystopian novel with a touch of science fiction and fantasy.  

Amazon's book description:

Ten years ago the president of the United States declared that global warming had reached a tipping point from which it would not recover. In answer to this dilemma, modern technology was shut down. The elderly and other volunteers could opt to live out the rest of their lives in a virtual world, but all others were left to fend for themselves. 

Seventeen-year-old Avi Bloom lives in a world in which each family must contribute one child as a runner. A runner risks life and limb to travel from village to village delivering news and other small items. Avi is one run shy of retiring when she discovers that whole villages are disappearing, leaving only a few dead bodies and the youngest children behind. Now, Avi must find out who or what is responsible for these missing people as she goes on a journey and discovers friendship, love, and betrayal. She also discovers that the forces behind these disappearances are much larger and more frightening than she could ever have imagined.

What I thought:

There are several characters in this story and the author knows them well. Johnson did a good job giving each character a distinct personality and voice.

The main character is Avi Bloom, a runner for her village.  Her mother is dead. Her father is missing and she knows statistically a runner's life expectancy isn't very good.  When it comes to danger, she knows how to handle herself. Avi is no fainting flower. She's tough and smart.

Johnson did a great job imagining her world.  The descriptions are vivid and compelling.  I particularly liked the inclusion of the Amish as well as what seems to be "preppers."  It was easy to believe that these folks would be prepared to survive.  

I like a story where the author swiftly introduces the action and Johnson did precisely that.  She moves the tale at a quick pace but in doing so, I felt as though some of the relationships weren't as developed as they needed to be. For me, this created a bit of a disconnect.  I wish that the author had spent just a little more time showing how certain relationships/feelings evolved. 

The Runner is the first book in the series.  The ending was a bit disappointing in that it was more of a set up for the next book in the series. That being said, the author leaves the reader curious as to where the story will lead.  

3 1/2 stars