Title: Dead Girl Running
Author: Ann M. Noser
Genre: Young Adult/New Adult Crossover Dystopian
Eight years ago, SILVIA WOOD’s father died in an industrial accident. After suffering through years of Psychotherapy Services and Mandated Medications for depression and multiple suicide attempts, she longs to work in Botanical Sciences. When the Occupation Exam determines she must work in Mortuary Sciences instead, she wonders if the New Order assigned her to the morgue to push her over the edge.
To appease her disappointed mother, Silvia enters the Race for Citizen Glory, in an attempt to stand out in the crowd of Equals. After she begins training with “golden boy” LIAM HARMAN, she discovers he also lost his father in the same accident that ruined her childhood. Then Silvia meets and falls for Liam’s older cousin, whose paranoid intensity makes her question what really happened to her father. As the race nears, Silvia realizes that she’s not only running for glory, she’s running for her life.
Imagine a world where there’s no war, homelessness or citizen unrest. Welcome to the New Order, a society in the not-too-distant future, where citizens are slotted in appropriate occupations, eat rations and get birth control implants (to prevent unwanted pregnancy). The overseers of the New Order are referred to as Suits (reminds me of The Matrix) and there’s always someone watching (surveillance for society’s protection, of course).
Meet Silvia Wood, an eighteen-year old young woman still grieving the loss of her father eight years ago. After two suicidal attempts and a mother who wants her to “fit in”, she seems a perfect match for mortuary sciences. She finds solace in her job and her boss, Gus, is like a father-figure to her.
One day, at the gym, a handsome guy named Liam Harman asks her to enter the Race for Citizen Glory. She’s wary at first but eventually agrees. The increase in rations, alone, is a definite perk. As she and Liam train, she gets to know him better and finds out he lost his father in the accident, too. They quickly become friends and he introduces her to his older cousin, Franco.
Franco is different from anyone she has ever met. His piercing stare sees right into her soul and she quickly falls for him. It doesn’t matter to her that he’s years older than her but he plays hot and cold so she keeps her feelings for him to herself.
Events start happening that cause Silvia to question the world around her. Soon, the race is here and she’s running not only to make her mother proud of her, but to survive.
I’m not a dystopian fan, as a rule, but the premise intrigued me. Ann’s debut novel, How to Date Dead Guys, is still a personal favorite of mine so I had high expectations going in. I immediately loved Silvia and was drawn into her world. I could relate to her losing her dad and feeling so alone in the world. There were times when I laughed, cried and wanted to hug her.
Ann did a masterful job with a complex plot and a myriad of characters. She gets an A for world-building and an A for creating original characters that jump off the page. I forgot I was reading several times and I could visualize everything that was going on.
I loved the budding romance between Franco and Silvia. It wasn’t obvious and very realistic. Guys are confusing, says Silvia a lot, and it reminded me of all the crushes I had when I was her age, trying to figure out if a guy liked me or not.
The last half of the book is filled with intense scenes, twists and turns I didn’t expect. The ending was a shocker and one that, once it was revealed, caused me to gasp aloud. When I reached the end of the book, I wanted to read the next one to find out what happens. I know, I know, I’ll have to be patient.
While I know this is fiction, there are so many elements of the New Order that are present in our world today. Philosophical questions ran around in my head long after I read the last page of Dead Girl Running. This book will stick with you and is a far cry from the fluff being sold today. It’s a must-read, in my opinion, and one that should be read by all… before it’s too late.
“I spin around, expecting the Handlers. Or maybe the Suits. At least this time I might have a weapon or two I can use.” ~Silvia
My Rating: 5+ stars
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My to-do list dictates that I attempt to cram forty-eight hours of living into a day instead of the usual twenty-four. I’ve chosen a life filled with animals. I train for marathons with my dog, then go to work as a small animal veterinarian, and finish the day by tripping over my pets as I attempt to convince my two unruly children that YES, it really IS time for bed. But I can’t wait until the house is quiet to write; I have to steal moments throughout the day. Ten minutes here, a half hour there, I live within my imagination.
Like all busy American mothers, I multi-task. I work out plot holes during runs. Instead of meditating, I type madly during yoga stretches. I find inspiration in everyday things: an NPR program, a beautiful smile, or a newspaper article on a political theory.
I’d love to have more time to write (and run, read, and sleep), but until I find Hermione Granger’s time turner, I will juggle real life with the half-written stories in my head. Main characters and plot lines intertwine in my cranium, and I need to let my writing weave the tales on paper so I can find out what happens next.
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