Runner by Patrick Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Runner was raved about by one of my Goodreads friends, so I picked it up from the library. This story is about a man who happens to be in the best place at the right time, and makes the decision to help a girl that changes his whole life.
Sam Dryden has this irresistible compulsion to go running at night, in a certain area. He's been drifting after his personal loss, and believes this is due to his restlessness, and perhaps an existential crisis. He meets a girl who begs him to save her life from her pursuers and makes a split decision to do exactly that. It's fortunate that he's not just a typical guy. He's highly trained in black ops work, and equipped with all the assets needed to keep Rachel alive. It gets more interesting from there. Because Rachel isn't your typical twelve-year-old. Not by a long stretch.
This novel has some really cool ideas. It's like the X-Files episode of Pusher with some heavy duty action thrown in. Rachel's psychic abilities are seriously scary! Sam is a bad*ss. Great combination. It reminded me favorably of one of my favorites series, The GhostWalkers (minus the romance and with a few different aspects).
The things I loved about this book was the bond between Rachel and Sam. Sam assumes a fatherly role, with a little bit of friend thrown in. Rachel definitely needs a parental figure who is honorable and willing to make enormous sacrifices for her, considering her past. One might at first take it for granted that Sam would go so far to defend a young girl. The reveal could have compromised my perception of Sam as a really good guy who acts as Good Samaritan. I thought at first it would, but in the end, I was okay with it. I definitely believe that things happen in our lives for specific reasons, and they were meant to come together, no matter how it happened.
I loved the action elements. I also liked that the story is far from predictable. You don't always know right away who exactly is the big bad. There are a few characters who are doing some nasty things, so it's a coin flip at some points. The story flips things around. All you know is that Sam is a good guy and the right guy to be the bodyguard to Rachel. Things get twisty in that we're dealing with people who can literally get anyone to do whatever they want. You wonder at what point are the characters doing something of their free will. I have some huge issues with control, and that's a very scary thought that someone could control me and make me do something I would never do otherwise. I think Lee understands how truly frightening that is.
Runner is probably equally suspense and action, with some paranormal/science fiction thrown in. It's a really cool premise. It looks like this will be a series, so I wonder what will happen in the next book. I do want to read more of this series and see where the author goes next with the characters he created in this book.
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