I mostly read science fiction and fantasy books… mostly. But I can be a bit eclectic in my tastes, and occasionally pick up something from a different genre. Sometimes, I even enjoy it. Sometimes… but usually not. Let’s take a look that got my hopes up before crushing them under its heel: Run, by Kody Keplinger.
Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who’s not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn’t care what anyone thinks.
Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents’ overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter — protect her from what, Agnes isn’t quite sure.
Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it’s the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.
So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn’t hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo’s dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and – worst of all – confronting some ugly secrets.
What a massive disappointment.
This book started off very promising. It has an interesting structure, alternating between chapters in the present narrated by Bo and chapters in the past narrated by Agnes. It’s an interesting method of narration which throws you straight into the height of action while allowing for surprising twists when fleshing out the events which led to the current situation. An excellent example of what can be done with this sort of format is Iain M. Banks’s Culture novel Use of Weapons, which stands as one of his greatest masterpieces.
Of course, it’s also possible to use said structure poorly, too. For instance, Animorphs #47: The Resistance, where the lack of connection between the alternate stories makes one of them come off as boring and irrelevant. But that’s not really where Run trips up; it handles the pacing and reveals when switching from past to present perfectly fine. No, it succumbs to a far more common flaw: utilizing the hackneyed old “bait-and-switch lesbians” trick.
You see, in the Bo-narrated present-time chapters, they talk about how they love each other and they’re running away together and they’re going to live in an apartment together and buy a cat. Then you read the Agnes-narrated past chapters, and surprise! Agnes has sex with Colt! Turns out she’s straight! Agnes and Bo are just friends! And all those times they talked about loving each other, they really meant “platonic” love! It sure fooled you, didn’t it!?
Yes. It temporarily fooled me into thinking it might actually be an interesting novel, instead of just another non-committal story which teases the possibility of a non-traditional romance only to back out at the last minute in favor of the heteronormative option. Congratulations. The twist at the end of Use of Weapons made me re-evaluate the entire story and my opinions of the characters’ actions throughout; the ending of Run just made me feel angry at being deceived into reading a story by being teased with the prospect of it being something that it wasn’t.
For the record: if you offer someone a drink and then throw it in their face instead, you might very well surprise them, but don’t suspect to receive a positive review afterwards.
I was so very, very tempted to give this book a one just due to the extreme disgust I felt over the bait-and-switch, but I honestly can’t justify that when there are books out there which are just so very much worse. Still: what a massive disappointment. Run, alright. Run far, far away from this book.
Final Rating: 2/5