Title: Hit the Ground Running
Author: Mark Burley
Blurb (taken from Goodreads):
“Eric—Mom and Dad are gone. I don’t know what happened, but I’m going to find out.”
Eric might not be getting along with his family—or anyone else, for that matter—but he’s pretty sure a boarding school in another country isn’t the answer. Skilled in parkour, running helps him deal. So be it, he decides. Do the time and get out. Flow like water. But when he gets a cryptic message from his brother telling him their parents have been abducted, and then his brother disappears, he realises they weren’t punishing him, they were hiding him. To find them, Eric has to discover the secrets of his parents’ research, but the conspiracy he uncovers threatens more than just his family. With help from unlikely new friends, a hack-first-ask-questions-later approach to computers, and a dangerous plan, he soon learns that some secrets don’t want to be found, and others have a way of revealing themselves at all the wrong times.
This book “hits the ground running”, indeed — I think its biggest strength was the hook. I read through the first 10% very enthusiastically, and then somewhere along the way, the pace slowed down. Thankfully, it’s not a book where it just goes downhill and doesn’t stop. In fact, as the plot thickens around the 50% mark, my interest picked up again, and the ending was absolutely amazing. Stick with this book to the end, you hear?
What made my interest drop was how sudden information arrives. There will be a slow-paced buildup of several pages, and then for five pages in a row, the reader gets an onslaught of information that may or may not be relevant to the plot (for example, non-relevant dream descriptions and discussions about movies). It did get a bit overwhelming at some point and I lost track of little important details that probably would’ve made the book more enjoyable had I retained them. I also really wish the secrets had been revealed a bit slower through the story, but I suppose it is what it is.
The book alternates between these types of “reveals” and pretty intense action scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The reader gets a cocktail of stalking, kidnappings, motorcycle rides, murders, etc… and of course, the complimentary side romance side story. Additionally, the characters are well-developed and pretty neat; I think anyone would grow fond of them. What struck me the most about Eric and about Tess was how real they felt, and how I could believably run into them in the middle of the street. Very well done!
If you are fond of anthropological mysteries/adventures, be sure to pick up this YA novel. This is suitable for teenagers and up. I read this as part of my own personal challenge to read more books by Canadian authors, and I am proud to say that our nation has great writers!
I’d like to thank Blue Moon Publishers for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.