Friday, 17 May 2013

Book Review: RUN TO ME by Diane Hester

Run to Me

Title: Run to Me
Author: Diane Hester
Publisher: Random House Australia
Read: May 14, 2013

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Run To Me is a suspenseful, impossible-to-put-down chase thriller with riveting twists and turns . . .

It's been two years since Shyler O'Neil's beloved son Jesse was killed - but his final moments are as vivid to her now as they were that dreadful day. Suffering from post-traumatic stress, and convinced she did not do enough to protect him, she retreats to an isolated cabin in the woods of northern Maine.

Meanwhile, Zack Ballinger - a ten-year-old boy who has never known a mother's love - finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He's seen too much and is now running for his life. Fleeing into the woods, Zack soon finds himself at Shyler's cabin. He'll take whatever help she can give - even though, for some reason, she keeps calling him Jesse . . .

With the pursuers hot on their heels, 'mother' and 'son' go on the run. Protecting Zack may well be Shyler's one chance at redemption.

Either that, or she is the child's greatest threat . .

My thoughts: 

The premise of Diane Hester’s debut novel “Run to Me” had me hooked from the very start. A reclusive mother suffering PTSD from the horrific incident which claimed the life of her young son two years previously. Three neglected young boys in a dysfunctional foster home, who witness an event which makes them the target of some very evil men. As their paths intersect, each has something which may be crucial to their survival. Thus addressing three very powerful human emotions – grief for a lost child, the mothering instinct and humankind’s innate fight for survival – the novel promised a rollercoaster ride of action and suspense.

Run to Me certainly is an action packed thriller. The wilderness areas of northern Maine, a place very dear to the author, provide the perfect setting for a nail-biting manhunt in which our innocent protagonists must fight for their survival. Hester’s love for the place becomes apparent in her atmospheric descriptions of the countryside and its wildlife – one particular scene with a wild moose has stayed with me, and was one of my favourite parts of the story.

My personal opinion of this novel is very divided, and after procrastinating over my review I am still finding it hard to put my thoughts into words. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the book well enough, but I didn’t love it, which was a great disappointment because I had been waiting for my copy with bated breath and could not wait to start reading when it finally arrived. Whilst it provided plenty of action and made for a few hours of entertaining reading, it never fully grabbed me in the way other recent reads have. Trying to work out why I can only put this down to character development and perhaps revealing too much too soon, which robbed the story of much of its mystery and suspense.

Of all the characters, Shyler is the one who I found most believable. Her struggles with PTSD were well portrayed, and her motives rang true throughout the story, from her protectiveness towards her new charge to her preparedness for survival in a harsh environment.

Dr Chase Hadley, on the other hand, was the one character I struggled with most. Being a health professional, even his concern for an obviously troubled patient could not exonerate him from his unprofessional behaviour towards Shyler and his failure to involve law enforcement even when confronted with a murder scene and a subsequent break-in. Chase’s actions opened a minefield of legal and ethical dilemmas which in a real life situation would not lead to a happily-ever-after but would most likely see him disbarred from the medical profession. Similarly, I struggled to understand the motives behind the actions of Lazaro’s people and would have loved some more compelling reasons for the manhunt as well as the emotional connections between the team, which didn’t quite gel at times.

However, having seen mostly 4 and 5 stars reviews for this novel, I may stand alone in my opinion. It is quite possibly due to my inability to ignore inconsistencies in the plotline even for the sake of entertainment, which always annoys my family, who have barred me from making comments or asking questions (Why? How? What for?) through certain action-adventure movies which push those boundaries a bit too far for me. So whilst the novel offered plenty in terms of action, I never felt fully emotionally engaged with the characters, which made it an ok read but not a memorable on for me.

Having said that, Hester’s debut novel shows her talent as a new writer on the scene and I am looking forward to reading more from this author in future.

To summarise, Run to Me is an action packed thriller which will make for a few hours of entertaining reading either curled up in front of the fire or at the beach. Whilst it did not meet all my expectations I did enjoy the wilderness setting and general premise of the story and it kept me entertained through a lazy afternoon off sitting in the sun on my verandah and losing myself in a different world for a while.

This novel forms part of my 2013 Australian Women Writers Challenge.


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