Night Runner, by Max Turner (St. Martin’s, Sep 1 2009, YA), is a vampire book filled with excitement, tension, death, mayhem, and a bit of first love. It's a fast, easy read. And, setting it apart from many other books that fit this description, the main character is a boy.
Zack has spent years living in a mental institution. After his parents died when he was a child, he developed strange allergies that required a liquid diet of red stuff, and left him unable to tolerate sunlight, and so the authorities thought it best to give him an institutional home where he could be looked after. So Zack has the night-time freedom of the place, and life is tolerable....until a strange guy in a motorcycle crashes through the front of the building and tries to whisk him away.
Boy, I failed as a reader here--I don't think it's particularly spoilerish to assume that most people can put two and two together and end up with a teenaged vampire, but it was a surprise to me...and, more importantly, to Zack. He had no idea.
Now Zack is running for his life in a scary world of vampires and vampire hunters, not sure who he can trust, and not at all sure how to live as one of the undead himself. He turns to his best friend Charlie for help, and meets a girl he might like to fall in love with (chaos and threat of imminent death permitting), but they too become drawn into the violent stream of events that is overwhelming Zack as he races to find the mystery of his parents' death...
The characters are interesting, the tension high, the writing crisp.* A good one for the proverbial reluctant teenaged boy reader, or anyone who wants a dark, fast, read. It will leave readers wanting more, so thankfully there's a sequel on its way.
*Today's definition of crisp writing--lots of short, to the point sentences. No unnecessary wittering about feelings, although these are made clear. Not much description for the sake of description. Little, if any, time spent by the characters remembering the past in big chunks. I just read on another blog that "if you love Twilight, you will love this book." I do not think this is the case.
You can win a free copy of Night Runner here at The Vampire Librarian (ends August 31st).
Other reviews at Genre Go Round, Hip Librarians Book Blog, and Tara's Blog.
And now I've read other reviews, I feel that I was so caught up with the plot that I didn't realize this was also, on a deeper level, a book about growing up and finding out who you are etc. Which I suppose it is, but that's not what I was busy noticing. I was wondering, right there along with Zack, if he would a. survive b. get any cool vampire super powers c. hook up with the nice girl.
And here's a quiz you can take, based on the book, to see if you are a vampire, or "just another teenager."
(ARC received from publisher)