I have, over the course of the past year or so, accumulated a healthy, growing digital library of books and book samples, most of which I've heard of either from various book blogs or from Amazon itself, under the section "people who bought/looked at this book also bought/looked at these titles." As I finish one title, the rest jostle each other, waving their arms, trying to get my attention, sort of like Donkey from Shrek, shouting "Pick me! Pick me!" I never really know which book/sample I'll read next - it really is a spontaneous decision, for the most part. Kindle Roulette, in a way.
Run is a variation of the post-apocalyptic zombie-survival genre, except without the zombies (in the traditional sense). Instead of undead, what happens is that there is a nation-wide aurora event one night that a good percentage of the US population witnesses. It ends up radically affecting all who had witnessed it, changing them, turning them insanely violent. They somehow instinctively recognize anyone who hadn't seen the event (some sort of afterglow effect that only those affected can see/not see), and so they are able to tell who "their kind" are. Those that have been affected band together and ruthlessly, remorselessly hunt down and annihilate those who weren't so affected.
Into this scenario are thrust normal people, who suddenly have to find a way to survive in a world gone mad. Families like the Colclough family - a family that was on the brink of dissolution to begin with. Dee and Jack are about to divorce. Their teen daughter Naomi is rebellious and in her goth phase, and their reclusive 7 year old son Cole doesn't know what to make of it all. This world-changing event, and the Colclough family's subsequent battle for survival, will knit them back together again, with a vengeance.
And a battle it is. These types of tales aren't normally my cup of tea. Instinctively, I want people to be safe and healthy and happy, so watching people endure a buffet of near-unimaginable hardship and terror doesn't normally set well with me. And this tale was no different. Not only does the world become unhinged, but every time the Colclough family escapes one crazy-hard scenario, they stumble headlong into something worse, as they run, run, run.
Therein lies my chief criticism of the book -- which is admittedly my own issue, and not the story. It makes for a grueling read. And after a while, it seems contrived; sort of like, "OK, now that they've endured that hardship, what fresh level of hell can I drag them through now, to top it?" Until, by the ending, it just gets silly. And in the tie-up chapter at the very end, when it is theorized that the aurora event that triggered the month-long apocalypse was just nature's way of purging the earth a bit, alleviating the stresses associated with over-population, it's rather unsatisfying.
And yet, I read the whole thing. Technically, it was well-written, and a smooth, fast ride. If you enjoy tagging along with a "normal" family while they hopscotch through a long series of insanely difficult, often-ghoulish scenarios and emerge victorious, then perhaps you'll enjoy this tale. I feel the author did the best he possibly could within the story parameters he gave himself. I mean, it likely would have been boring for the main characters to actually find someplace safe to hole-up and ride out the apocalypse, cut-off from the world but together, safe and happy.
Summary: 3.75/5 A non-stop ride through hell with an average American family, forced to quickly evolve into well-above-average. Some profanity and (modestly handled) adult interactions, along with a dumptruck full of no-holds-barred violence, injustice and death, with a healthy dose of torture thrown in. Somewhat unsatisfying ending notwithstanding, I can say no ill about the author or the tale. Mr. Crouch can navigate the page like a champ. I may try other titles of his, but I likely won't be reading this one again.