Book Reviews / Books / Reading

Night Runner By Tim Bowler || Bookish Rants, a Book Review

Night RunnerTitle: Night Runner

Author: Tim Bowler

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher : Oxford University Press

Length: 195 pages

Source: Received for review- Thank you so much!

Description (Back Cover): Zinny’s life is falling apart. Shadowy figures are following him. His parents are keeping secrets but he can’t figure out why. Then his mum ends up in hospital, his dad disappears, and Zinny has to do whatever he can to save his family. Even if it means helping the very men he’s been running from …

As the clock ticks, Zinny knows it’s only a matter of time before someone ends up dead – and it could be him.

I thought I would love Night Runner. I wanted to love it.

It sounds brilliant, no? Thrillers are a little out of my comfort zone, but I would never turn down a good one. I really do think Night Runner had the potential to be a lot better than it turned out to be. The idea was fantastic, and some of the plot twists were great ideas, as well.

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But…

*sighs* I really didn’t want my first review copy book’s review to be a negative one. Unfortunately, it is. When the expletives started appearing unnecessarily near the start, I wasn’t too happy.  However. What really disappointed me, was the description, and for that matter, the writing on the whole.

It was all telling, no showing.

I didn’t realise why the writing seemed so bland until later on in. The book is in first person, and the main character, Zinny, tells you everything. I wanted brilliant description, action, but instead I get every second thought of his, and written in such a bland way, as well.

Funnily, the writing improved later on in the book.

Although the writing still wasn’t great, it was a huge step up from before. Perhaps the story had also been built up better, plot twists were thrown in; whatever it was, the writing improved. It almost felt like two different people wrote the book. Seriously.

The characters are interesting.

Zinny, our protagonist isn’t a bore. But he isn’t SUPER EXCITING either. His life is exciting, and Night Runner seems to be more of a plot-centered story, rather than a character-centered story. There isn’t anything wrong with this, although I  would have liked to get to know Zinny and his family a little more. Speaking of his family, his parents seem even more interesting than him. They lead rather horrible lives, and the family is poor. I wouldn’t have chosen anyone else to narrate the story though.

The most interesting characters though, are Flash Coat and his gang, and Spink. I wanted to know more about them. Especially Spink. He seemed to have changed throughout the story, but why exactly? How? I WANTED TO CLIMB ACROSS THAT ARC. Also, he’s the school bully. The stereotypical one that makes everyone run. Zinny skips school frequently because of him. At a glance, his character isn’t a stand out, and appears as a bore. But that potential arc!  I wanted to learn more about him, have him feature more in the story.

Like I said before, the plot twists are great.

They creep up on you. They’re subtle, but then jaw-dropping at the same time. Yup.

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And if I only reviewed the book on its concept, its story, its ideas, its plot twists  (though not the writing of them…) instead of also the writing, characters, execution…

This book would probably be worth four stars. But because the writing was, frankly put, rather poor, and the characters were average… it just doesn’t live up to four star standard. Besides the writing, characters and execution are highly important.

Something else I would like to briefly talk about is the ending.

The plot twists and how the story was carried out prepared me for a sad and perhaps gory ending. However, it was happy. Not just oh-yup-someone-lives-happy, but fairytale happy. Happily ever after, happy. Again, there isn’t anything wrong with this… just not what I expected. Not what I expected from the building up of the whole story, not what I expected from a somewhat dark thriller. But perhaps… that was just another plot twist? One that I wasn’t able to appreciate. After all, it just didn’t feel… right, I suppose.

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HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY. …Now I feel even more evil wishing that the ending just wasn’t so HAPPY.

It could just be me, though.

You know how with some books everyone seems to love it, but you don’t? Well upon finishing the book, I went on goodreads, and all the reviews were positive. According to goodreads, it’s also a Carnegie Medal Nominee for 2015. Which convinces me more that it’s just me again.

In fact, many people might love the simplicity of the book. Night Runner is also an extremely short book (ha! The reason why I chose to read this book among my three review copies, first.), at only 195 pages, so it’s a brisk read. And also, that cover!

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Rating: 2/5

–This review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review–

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