Summary: An engrossing, and thought-provoking read.
Set in the wreck of a future dystopian England, Runners begins with teenage Elijah and a band of other tearaways (or Runners) struggling to get by in the ruins of an old house. The group dynamic, with its varied mix of personalities and ages, is fascinating from the off and the snippets of information concerning how the novel’s world came to be such a mess are intriguing to say the least.
Of course, the group’s situation quickly becomes about more than merely feeding themselves as Elijah and his friends find themselves stuck in a dismal situation engineered in no small part by the sinister Mr Braithwaite. On top of this, a chance discovery in a mysterious woodland catapults them right into the heart of an even bigger menace; a superb representation of a theorized quantum phenomenon, and, by the end of the book, the numerous plot threads really do intertwine beautifully.
The book’s crumbling world, with its dilapidated windmills, grim work camps and scenery ravaged by climate change is exquisitely described by the author. This is one of those novels that really pulls you into the setting, making you feel as though you’re right there with Elijah and the other Runners as they deal with the torrent of problems that come their way. It’s lucky, then, that Elijah is such a well-crafted character and sharing time with him is something you will certainly look forward to doing, despite the bleak nature of the book’s setting.
Other characters deserve a mention too; teenage girls Rosa and Sky seem poles apart but are both utterly mesmerising and it’s testament to the author’s writing that you care so much about secondary characters, even with so much else going on.