If you've dropped in before, you know that I am a fan of Wendelin Van Draanen. I, who loved Harriet the Spy, see a kindred soul to Miss Welsch in Sammy Keyes. I also was completely wowed by Flipped. So I came to Runaway with fairly high expectations. Holly's nightmarish story is an oddity. Part gritty survival story (and just how she manages to survive it all does stretch believability for me) and part The Power of Random Acts of Kindness tract portrayed in bits of journalized poetry, it did keep me reading. By the tail end of the book, I was fairly invested in how the whole saga was going to turn out - my bet and my wish (however wrong morally) was for Holly NOT to make it out alive) - and then WHAM! deus ex machina! Not to ruin it for those who haven't or might read it -- suffice it to say that I was very conflicted by this development. As a long-time Santa Martina lurker, part of me felt like I had gotten an insider's bonus. The other part of me, the reader who had just been immersed in the world of a new and (I thought) unmet character, felt like I had just opened the door to discover an unwelcome and unwanted surprise party! Maybe I am being too harsh -- as I went into the book expecting a fresh stand-alone creation like Flipped. Not what I got. Sigh.
*** And I am forced to reiterate my plea to STOP with these close-up portions of a face/body/teen covers! ***