Max Turner's newest Young Adult book, Night Runner, has a lot to recommend it.
First, nobody sparkles.
And second? No vampire romance.
The trend for vampire-themed young adult books really caught on, of course, after the Twilight trilogy, and I've reviewed some of those books as well as the House of Night series here on the blog before.
But it's nice to find that, even in this wildly popular genre, there are a few surprises left.
As a boy living in a mental health facility, Zack, the protagonist, draws your interest right away.
He's lived in the Nicholls Ward for years, ever since his parents died, and though it sounds like a scary place to hang out, Zack hastens to assure us that it isn't all bad.
Still, life can get pretty lonely. Due to his many strange allergies, Zack can't go out in the sun, and all he can drink are strawberry smoothies made by his friend, nurse Olivia.
Well, of course we know there's more to the story than that, and the truth behind Zack's origins all begin to unravel one night when a stranger on a motorcycle crashes through the front doors and tells Zack to run.
As Zack takes off, we realize that the life he knew is full of secrets and lies.
Though really, we aren't surprised--it would be a pretty boring book if all was as it seemed, wouldn't it?
So, of course Zack's Dad wasn't just an archeologist who died when "ruins" fell on him--he was a famous Vampire Hunter. And Zack, as it happens, was once bitten by a vampire.
If you can't guess what the red stuff in those strawberry smoothies really is by now, you clearly haven't been paying attention.
Night Runner's got a quirky sense of humor that I liked, and the pacing is fast and furious. If I had one complaint about the book it's that, not surprisingly, it's clearly intended as the first in a series, and so there's no real satisfying closure to the ending.
We know that Zack will be coming back again for more adventures.
Still, that's not a bad thing.
Viv's Take: Max Turner's Night Runner: A Novel
officially out today in paperback from St. Martin's Press, is a fun, fast-paced read with a new twist for fans of the Vampire genre, with more on the way.