Author: Carl Deuker
Publisher: Graphia Books
4 out of 5 stars
What does it feel like to be barely scraping by, to suddenly having more than enough? Well, Chance Taylor knows this feeling. Chance could barely pay the bills with his small job of washing pots on the weekends, now that his dad is out of work. It was hard enough to pay the bills when his dad did have a job. But in just one day things turn around for Chance. He’s offered a way to make some easy money, and how can Chance refuse? He obviously needs the money, and here it is, practically being handed to him. What do you do though when this way of earning “easy money” turns into something much more? Something that could threaten not only Chance, but put the lives of thousands in danger.
It’s simple really. All Chance has to do is run the course that he always does, only this time check to see if there’s a package. If there is, then slip it into the backpack and drop it off later. That’s it. No strings attached. In truth though, there’s hidden rules and unspoken regulations that Chance can’t break. He just doesn’t know it yet.
Things start to go bad when he realizes that this is more than just picking up packages from the beach and delivering them to the destination. Chance soon discovers that he might have gotten in too deep. Yes, the pay seems too-good-to-be-true, but how could he have known what he had gotten himself into? Chance has his suspicions, and he soon believes that he is part of a huge operation that is smuggling in drugs. Chance also realizes that he’s just a runner, and that he is expendable. Once this revelation hits Chance, he knows that there is much more at stake.
As Chance starts to realize what all of this means, he is constantly looking over his shoulder. He knows he’s being watched and he can’t afford to mess up. Now, not only his own, but many more lives are in his hands. Can Chance play his cards right and get out while he still can? What are really in the mysterious, nondescript packages? Does Chance even want to know? Carl Deuker reveals all in this provocative account of one boy’s struggle between the truth and the promising falsehoods in, Runner!
Runner was written in a thought-provoking way that not only had Chance battling with his own emotions, but me with my own as well. Carl Deuker presented many instances in which I had to grapple with taking the easy way out or strive to continue with the bare minimum. This book confronted and covered many topics such as drugs, terrorism, and trafficking. I suggest this book for teens twelve and up as it does take into consideration some more mature worldly topics.
I think one reason that I enjoyed this book so much, was that I could relate. I can’t say that I’m at rock bottom living in a household where the bills aren’t being paid and everyday expenses aren’t being met, but there were some aspects of Runner that I could really connect to. For example, as the title of the book depicts, Chance runs. Every day he runs, and that is what got him started in this business in the first place. I love to run as well. I was able to relate to how Chance felt as he went on his daily runs and let the day’s troubles just seep from his mind. Running was calming for him, as it is for me too. It would have been nice to see Chance’s running scenes go into more detail, but maybe that’s just the inner runner inside me speaking.
I also enjoyed how Runner presented a very real and plausible situation. This book focused on topics like terrorism, drugs, and trafficking. Not only did this book make me think about these topics, but it also shed some light on them. What happened to Chance could be what is happening to a teen somewhere right now. They have nowhere else to go, but suddenly this opportunity comes out of nowhere to essentially make everything “better.” Kids are sucked into this kind of world all the time, and it’s something that people should be aware of. Runner definitely spread the message.
It was interesting to see how the story initially took place in a small town on the coast of Washington, to see it grow in size to have an affect on the whole world. That was also something that prompted Chance to grow as he understood what a large scale this was really on. This had started out as a job to earn some money, and progressed to an event who’s outcome could affect millions of lives. Chance really went through some self-discovery as he battled with this, and his own problems at family and school.
This is a very fast-paced read, and at times that was a good thing, but in the long run (haha, no pun intended), I wish Runner had been a bit longer. It would have been nice to have gotten to know Chance and the other characters on a deeper level. Instead of relating to the characters, I felt like I was just watching from afar. I’m, glad this was a stand-alone novel though, because I can’t really imagine the story being drawn out to the length of two books. I can’t wait to read more of Carl Deuker’s sport novels that also confront the issues of teens!
Overall, Runner was an action-packed read with real issues that any teen can relate to. Join Chance, as he wrestles with his emotions and thoughts on what choice to make in, Runner!
-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!
Check out Carl Deuker's website at www.members.authorsguild.net/carldeuker/index.htm.
Runner is available from Amazon here.