Jul 26, 2012

#TheList, No. 987: The Running Man

First things first.  This book was not what was advertised.  Don't call something a "thriller" unless it's a thriller.  It's one of my biggest pet peeves. Like the re-issued classics that have Twilight styled covers.  One of those fans who now wants to rip Kristen Stewart's heart out will be hypnotized by the cover, go home expecting a sheriff father observing an abusive relationship that is deemed perfectly acceptable, and be saddened when that's not s/he they gets.

Other than that misleading bit of information, Michael Gerard Bauer's The Running Man was a fairly competent young adult novel. 

The premise: A young teen, Joseph, needs to complete a portrait for an art class and ends up using his recluse neighbor, Tom, as a subject.  Tom is the focus of much gossip spread by the token nosy neighbor, Mrs. Mossop (rhyming!), causing Joseph to feel hesitant about undertaking such a project.  But while working, he comes to know Tom better, and learns why he's become the recluse he is today.  He also helps him take care of silkworms...it's part of a whole symbolism thing.

The story is a typical "kid reaches the age where he learns that adults have problems too." To quote the first episode of Friends: "Welcome to the real world! It sucks. You're gonna love it."  What sets The Running Man apart from similar stories, is that Tom isn't the only adult shown to have problems.  The titular figure, the "running man," a seemingly psychotic man who runs raggedly around the town and the subject of many of Joseph's nightmares, also has deeply rooted problems that impact his behavior.    Even Joseph shows signs of experiencing some of these "grown-up" problems as the novel progresses toward the revelation of Tom's terrors. 

The silkworm symbolism was a little heavy, but for young readers, it'll help them understand the novel's happenings. 

Who would I give this too: Not someone expecting a thriller, that's for sure.  I still don't see how that reviewer could see "thriller." Maybe an emotional thrill? Anyway, I would give this to someone who likes realistic fiction and serious subject matters. 

Also, this novel has nothing to do with the popular dance move of the same name.  I know, I was sad too. 

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