I’ll admit, I’m not a regular reader of vampire fiction. But Night Runner, marketed as a new thrilling vampire tale for boys, came along and I bit. Pun completely intended. I’ve had a couple of male teens come to my store and ask “I’ve read Twilight, now what?”
Enter Zack Thomson. He lives in a mental ward, but he’s not crazy. Orphaned as a young child, Zack spends his days sleeping all day, and exercising at night. He’s on a limited diet of strawberry smoothies and his only companions are his Nurse Ophelia and friend Charlie. He doesn’t attend school, but there’s always television. It’s a strange life, but it’s his life. All this ends one night as a disheveled man crashes a stolen motorcycle into the front doors of the hospital. And his advice to Zack? “Run. They’re coming for you.” Now Zack will learn who and what is after him, and why. With the aid of Charlie, and new friend Luna, he runs from everything he’s known.
ith his debut novel, author Max Turner takes the familiar traits of the vampire canon and gives them new life. Zack, unaware of his “condition,” believes he’s allergic to the sun. He drinks red syrupy concoctions. And the vampire trait is actually a virus, a retrovirus that may spell a disastrous end for some vampires.
Night Runner is written in first person, and it’s an excellent choice. This writing style amplifies the excitement and thrills he experiences as he uncovers the real reasons behind his “peculiarities,” facts already known to us the reader. We race along with Zack as he runs from what lies in store for him, and we’re there in horror as he relishes his first kill. Zack is an intriguing and fun character, as he makes observations on people such as Chicago Man, whose nonsensical rambling and dancing lets the listener hear one word clearly: “Chicago” or when he spends his first night as a “real” teen out at a bonfire.
There’s a few cliches in the book, and sometimes Zack seems a little too earnest, but the novel remains a refreshing approach to vampire lore. Offering movie-worthy action sequences and funny, realistic dialogue, Night Runner is good choice for teens eager for a book with bite.
Copy for review provided by the publisher.
Title: Night Runner
Author: Max Turner
Date: September 1, 2009
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: Trade paperback (Originally published in 2008 in Canada by HarperCollins Canada)