First published 2008 (this edition 2009) 261 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
For Zack Thomson, living in the Nicholls Ward isn't so bad. After his parents died, he developed strange and severe allergies, and the mental institution was the only place where he could be properly looked after. As strange as it was, it was home. But that all changes the night a stranger on a Harley crashes through the front doors and tells him to run.
Along with his best friend Charlie and a girl he may or may not be falling in love with, Zack does just that: run. Under the cover of night, hiding amongst the shadows, he races for the truth.
Night Runner is the debut novel of Canadian school teacher Max Turner. Originally published in 2008 by Harper Collins Canada, Night Runner is set to reach a wider audience with its US release in September 2009 by St Martin’s Griffin.
Written for a teenaged audience Night Runner is the story of Zack, a fifteen year old orphan who lives in a mental institution where he receives treatment for a variety of bizarre allergies. For the last eight years he has been confined to the Nicholls Ward, where his allergies to sunlight and food and his need for regular blood transfusions have been treated but never cured. His existence is a lonely one; he can’t go out in the day, doesn’t attend school and has one friend, Charlie, who visits him at night. And although Zack is completely sane, the Nicholls Ward caters to mental patients (an early diagnosis of Zack’s illness suggested that it was a psychosomatic reaction to the death of his parents) so he hasn’t been able to make friends there either.
Zack’s life makes a dramatic u-turn from lonely and boring to exciting and adventurous the night a stranger breaks into the Nicholls Ward and tells him to run because someone is after him. Although the stranger is chased away by the police this isn’t the last visitor Zack gets telling him that someone is after him. At the same time Zack is told that he’s a vampire – news that he takes remarkably well because after years of treatment for mysterious allergies he’s just glad to know what’s actually wrong with him. The news that he’s being hunting the ancient, powerful and evil vampire known as Baron Vrolok isn’t quite so welcome – so Zack runs…
Zack tells his story in first person. His narrative is by turns funny, surprising and occasionally sad - but always realistically pitched, giving Zack a believable teenage voice. Zack tells his tale in a direct style, using mostly short sentences for both dialogue and narrative, and the resulting story is so fast-paced that a one-sitting reading is well within the realms of possibility.
Unlike a lot of vampire stories for young adults Night Runner isn’t a romance. There are no ancient vampires pretending to be human teenagers and attending school, leading to dangerous romance as the genuine human teenagers find themselves unable to resist the vampiric charms of the pretenders. No, Night Runner is an adventure story with mystery and danger at its heart, rather than romance. While the adventure plot-line makes Night Runner a natural choice for teenage boys – there is plenty here for the female readers to like too. After all who wouldn’t enjoy the story of a young vampire making his first break for freedom with the police, vampires and vampire hunters on his trail?
Fast-paced, entertaining and exciting - Night Runner is an original take on the teen vampire tale and should make a satisfying read for teen vampire fans anywhere.
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