Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Review: Runaway by Stephen Gresham

Blurb: Lost Boys
Mark Blackwood was only thirteen, but he was old enough to know his parents didn't need him around. They were too busy with their high-powered careers. And he was old enough to run away from home and find refuge in a place called Redemption House, a shelter for kids just like him. Kids who were lost, alone, and helpless...

Lost Souls
Reverend Robert W Eversfield, known to his boys as Brother Bob, was proud of his home for runaways. They were one big happy family. That is, as long as they obeyed the rules. For those who broke the rules, Brother Bob was particularly ingenious at devising suitable punishments. Punishments that ensured they would never fail him again. And for those who tried to escape Redemption House, Brother Bob reserved the most horrifying fate of all...

I give it 3 stars

My Review:

At first, I didn't like this book at all. The writing was mediocre at best, there was way too much telling, and I couldn't connect to the main character. The book does get better as it goes along, though. Not in the quality of writing, but in the story.
I liked seeing the story from the point of view of Mark and Brother Bob. But I could have done without all the head hopping. I can see how at certain points seeing through the eyes of the other children trapped at Redemption House was needed, but I really don't understand the point in even having the characters of Mike McCarty (or sometimes McCarthy, the spelling of the name kept switching) or Gentry Thompson, the two adult 'good guys'. They didn't add anything to the story that I could see. I found getting dragged into their viewpoints jarring, because it pulled me away from the heart of the story, the plight of the kids.
There are some ghosts in this book, but like the two characters mentioned above, they don't do much. It almost feels as if the author simply threw them in for the sole purpose of adding a supernatural element to the story rather than advancing the plot.
The only thing that saves this book from being a total loss is Mark and the other children of Redemption House. At first, they all seemed a little wooden and depthless, but as the story progressed, I found myself drawn into their plight and even sharing their despair as repeated attempts to flee the horror of Redemption House fail. By the end of the book, I was rooting for each and every one of them to survive.
There is a good, engrossing story here. Sadly, it gets derailed by several pointless side stories and unnecessary characters.


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