Runner Review
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Unabridged Audiobook: 7 CDs (8.5 hours)
Read by Raúl Esparza

A number of TV series have gained popularity by capitalizing on our natural curiosity for the unknown—whether it’s alien encounters, people with paranormal abilities, or secret military experiments. If you’re one of those people who love a good conspiracy theory—with twists of both the scientific and the supernatural—then you’ll want to pick up a copy of Patrick Lee’s audio thriller, Runner.

Former soldier Sam Dryden is out for a late-night run along the ocean when he meets Rachel, a terrified twelve-year-old who begs him for help. After helping her escape from a group of armed men, Sam learns that Rachel has been imprisoned in some kind of research facility for the past two months—and that’s all that she remembers. The only other information that she’s learned about her situation comes from an unbelievable source: her ability to hear the thoughts of those around her.

It soon becomes clear that some very powerful people want Rachel back. And as she and Sam go on the run, bits and pieces of information about who—and what—Rachel is begin to explain why she’s so valuable.

Filled with twists, turns, and surprising revelations, Runner is certainly a fast-paced thriller. The story is detailed and complex—a chilling tale about military contracts, disturbing scientific experiments, and a couple of uninformed characters on the run from a deadly team of mysterious bad guys.

Since the details of the story are rather cold and scientific, the novel relies on the characters for its heart. Sam is a lonely guy with a pained past—a man who seems to have nothing more to live for. And it’s that loneliness and desperation that lead him on his late-night runs—which, of course, eventually lead him right to Rachel. Despite his deep-seated sadness, though, Sam is just the guy to help this young girl in need. He has the intense military training needed to outrun—and even outsmart—the men who are determined to get Rachel back, and he has the kindness and compassion to put himself in danger to help her. He may not be especially well-developed as a character, but readers are given just enough information about Sam and his past to make him intriguing—and likable.

Rachel, meanwhile, isn’t exactly a little damsel in distress. Though she has no memory of who she is or where she came from—and she’s terrified of the men who are chasing her—she’s tough and resourceful, willing to do whatever it takes to escape. The more you get to know her, the more you’ll like her—which makes the occasional revelations about her past all the more surprising.

As an audiobook, though, Runner can be difficult to follow. It’s a complex story involving a number of players—and, if you do your listening while driving (as I do), you might find it challenging to keep up.

With its twisting story and its unlikely pairing of damaged but determined main characters, Runner may not be the best pick if you’re looking for some light entertainment while you’re navigating traffic, but it’s still a gripping military/sci-fi thriller. It might just be best enjoyed if you pick up a copy of the book and read it the old-fashioned way.

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