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Friday, July 5, 2024

Run by Blake Crouch (reviewed by Adam Weller & Mihir Wanchoo)

 


Official Blake Crouch Website
Pre-order Run HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Recursion
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Pines
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Eerie
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Run
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s review of Serial Killers Uncut
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Wayward
Read Fantasy Book Critic’s Interview with Blake Crouch (2011)
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Wayward Pines trilogy Interview with Blake Crouch
 
AUTHOR INFORMATION: Blake Crouch was born in Statesville, North Carolina and graduated in 2000 with degrees in English and Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina. He has written four previous novels and a host of short stories. Two of his stories have been optioned for film adaptation. Blake currently lives in Durango, Colorado with his wife.


OFFICIAL BLURB:  Five days ago, the epidemic of rage began.

Four days ago, the rash of senseless murders swept the nation.
 
Three days ago, the President addressed the country and begged for peace—even as the murders increased tenfold.
 
Two days ago, the killers began to mobilize.
 
One day ago, the power went out.
 
And tonight, the killers are reading the names of those to be killed on the Emergency Broadcast System.
 
Jack Colclough is listening over the battery-powered radio on his kitchen table in Albuquerque, and he just heard his name. People are coming to his house to kill him, his wife, his daughter, his son. He doesn’t know why, but he doesn’t have time to think about that anymore.
 
He only has time to run.
 
OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS (ADAM): Run has an intriguing premise: an unidentified event drives anyone who experiences it into madness. They become murderers, torturers, and every other form of depravity mankind has to offer. These people have a singular goal: kill everyone who isn't like them. This book focuses on one Albuquerque family, unaffected by the event, who has to leave everything behind and run for their lives. Where are they going to go? How will they survive when almost everyone around them is trying to kill them?

This tense thriller leans more into horror than any other of Blake Crouch's books I've read. The book is chapterless, which adds an extra layer of intensity because there's never a good time to pause. The family is under constant pressure and the lack of natural breaks in the narrative made me feel like I was running along with them, unable to look away.

One aspect of the story I loved is although there are some shiver-inducing scenes of extreme violence and brutality, it's juxtaposed with the love of a family that will do anything for each other. Desperate situations will bring forth elements of perspective and wisdom that you never knew existed. Seeing this family evolve in such a desolate situation had me emotionally invested in the characters' fates.

Environmental hazards played a major role in this story of survival, but I feel like Crouch spent far too much time describing in detail what every field, mountain, and forest looked like. It was immersive, but I feel some character development was sacrificed to keep up with its relentless pacing.

Overall, Run is a gripping thriller with quite a few heart-pounding moments. There was a lot left unexplained, which is fine to a certain extent, but some scenarios were resolved with a bit of hand-waving and oh-so-perfect timing. Some of these resolutions were detrimental to the immersion of the story, but it didn't take long to pull me right back in again.

Run was originally published in 2011, but now is the first time it is available for purchase within the U.S. It's perfect for devouring on the beach or by the pool in one sitting.




OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS (MIHIR): Not only was I fascinated by RUN’s blurb, but previously I had read Serial Uncut which was a collaborative effort between Blake Crouch and Joe Konrath. I very much liked the book’s mix of horror and thriller genres and I was wondering how the book would measure up against such a tantalizing blurb.

RUN begins with an unnamed female arriving at an unknown site and we are left wondering what is going on? The book then shifts to Deanna “Dee” Colclough who has a scary encounter with her paramour Kiernan as he asks her to get away from him before anything happens to her. We are then introduced to Jack Colclough and his family which consists of his wife Dee, his teenaged daughter Naomi and his son ColeJack is a professor at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque and Dee is a physician. They are packing their things and trying to get their bearings as they plan to flee the city when Jack’s name gets called out on the radio. Jack and his family then rush out of their house and are attacked rather brutally by people who are tracking the folks whose names have been announced.
 
Thus begins their odyssey as they seek travel to the North not knowing who or what awaits them. The events which have caused this meltdown are alluded to and are a bit explained, but ultimately it’s up to the reader to decide what triggered this situation. There is much more happening, but to describe them would ruin the surprise. The action is shown throughout the lower continental US, Northern Mexico & southern parts of Canada with JackDee’s journey taking them through the western half of the US as they try to avoid the ‘crazies’ and survive along with their children.

Because the book focuses deeply on the Colclough family, specifically the story of a father striving to do right by his progeny, RUN is immediately comparable to The Road by Cormac McCarthy. However, there’s a crucial difference: the world featured in The Road is a post-apocalyptic one, whereas in RUN, the world teeters on the verge of collapse. RUN is also less dark than the Pulitzer Prize winner, although it has its moments of sheer horror.

Blake Crouch’s prose admirably fuels this high-strung tale as he showcases a slightly dysfunctional family: Jack, the father struggling to save his family; Dee, the estranged wife who has to ch
oose between her feelings for her paramour and her family; and Naomi and Cole, the children who are shockingly thrust into a world where they have no control and no way to adapt... Mr. Crouch efficiently showcases the struggle faced by both parents as they try to explain the situation to themselves and their kids, with emotional family moments brilliantly juxtaposed by harrowing action scenes that will have readers turning the pages to see what happens next.

Besides the Colclough family, we also get bits and pieces of information about the environment from other characters we meet during the course of the story, although they are fleeting. The affected people meanwhile, seem sane enough in understanding what they are doing and the author provides clues about their motivations, but nothing is clearly spelt out.

There are very few drawbacks with the book. A few readers might get frustrated at the absence of a concrete explanation for what is happening, but like in real life, many things occur which have only theories instead of rational explanations. Lastly, the climax is a bit fantastical and detaches a bit of credibility from the tale. Fortunately, the ending is not too over-the-top to ruin the overall effect.

CONCLUSION: Blake Crouch’s RUN is a simple, & magical tale about survival, the bonds of family, and the endurance of the human spirit. RUN exceeded my expectations and is a book I enjoyed re-reading. In short, the author is rapidly moving up my reading list and seems hell-bent on proving David Morrell’s words true: “Blake Crouch is the most exciting new thriller writer I've read in years.”

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