Saturday, 8 March 2014

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Running by Barbara Spencer is an adrenalin-fueled adventure with action and mystery that will keep young adult readers, and grown-ups who love YA fiction, turning the pages to find out what happens next.

The story begins with the gripping news that there’s been an earthquake and tsunami in the state of California. Immediately we learn that this disaster isn’t “natural” and that evil forces of the human kind are most likely the cause. To heighten the suspense, it turns out that the world’s foremost scientists had been gathering at a convention in California at the time. On top of this, there’s been a nuclear disaster in the Middle East. The U.S. is blamed for both incidents and America becomes ostracized by the rest of the world because of this.

American scientist Bill Anderson takes his infant son and escapes to England where he tries to blend in with the locals and disappear from the shadowy bad guys. Fast forward fifteen years and we meet quietly likeable Scott Anderson, a regular kid at a British school who tries to hide his American roots. The government in Europe has used the nuclear disaster as an excuse to impose greater control over its citizens with a requirement that everyone wears government-issued glasses (spectacles, in the UK) and regular checks for radiation as a result of the nuclear blast. Life takes a startling turn for Scott around the time that a particularly smart, attractive classmate, Hillary, turns up at school. Before long, Scott finds himself on the run with Hillary on a search for his missing father with little to go on other than a vague clue and gut instinct.

From a small English town to the lochs of Scotland and the winding paths of a Dutch town, Running is a great travelogue, a well-written mystery and an exciting story, as well as an endearing introduction to Scott and Hillary and their friends,Travers and Mary. I look forward to reading the sequel and other books by Barbara Spencer.    LDB

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