Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Running by Barbara Spencer

Running: A Boy. A Missing Computer Scientist. A Secret So Dangerous, it Must Stay Hidden from the WorldTarget Audience: Teens/Young Adults
Genre:  Thriller/Fiction

I got a copy of this book months ago from Waterstones, Rose Lane in Canterbury where I met the author and she signed me a copy. She's a lovely lady and a phenomenal writer whose books definitely deserve more acclaim than some other books I know of (not mentioning any!)
Anyway, here's the Goodreads synopsis as if I try to write it I'm sure I'll accidentally spoil the plot:

Fifteen year old Scott Anderson has a secret so big he daren't share it even with his best friends. He and his dad are American. If you're American, you don't talk about it. If you don't talk about that, you don't talk about any of the other secrets that haunt your life that your dad's really a computer scientist and people are searching for him. 

When Bill Anderson disappears, Scott is determined to find him. He has already lost his mother. She disappeared in the California earthquake, which killed ninety percent of the world's computer scientists; a tragedy for which America is held responsible. But there's little for Scott to go on; a scrap of paper left in a printer and a poster pinned to the wall. Now someone's looking for Scott, too. Is it the mysterious Frenchman, who pretends to be a radiation expert, or Sean Terry of the American Secret Service, who believes the United States innocent of the crimes levelled against it? Could it be Hilary Stone, the prettiest girl in class, who also claims to work for the American Secret Service? Or is it someone else entirely? 

Running is pretty much that epic novel that we would all like to read but have yet to find, only in this case I have found it.  The journey across the what used to be the UK is pretty amazing (England, Scotland and Wales are classed as Europe now) and it never lets up. There's fights, spies, a few who-dunnits to puzzle through and a few OMG moments that will leave you a bit stunned.

The setting itself is incredible and there's enough conspiracy theory involving tracing and following to keep any conspiracy fan entertained and thoroughly freaked out. I have to admit, the idea of being able to be traced and governments having enough power to close off whole roads and cities, to be truly terrifying. What I also found scary was the bad-guys ability to track Hilary and Scott using a tiny pebble sized tracker without them realising. The fact that they were never safe just added a whole lot of tension to the mix.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing though was seeing America as the outcast country which is unusual in books. As someone who reads a lot of books by American authors I'm used to everything being set there, so it made a change to have the book set, not only in the UK, but to have the main character American, and living in UK, unable to return to a country being blamed for something it may or may not have done. The affects of this situation were far reaching and although as the reader I never got to see the situation in the states, it would have been fascinating to do so.

Needless to say for the most part the mystery is solved in the end and wow is it a twist. Nothing is what it first appears to be and that's what I like in a book and as for the actual ending, I honestly didn't see that little twist coming at all. There are a few loose ends, and I wouldn't mind a sequel of some sort just to see how things turn out. Fingers crossed!

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