Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: Running on Empty - Colette Ballard

Running on Empty
Colette Ballard 
Series: N/A
Genre: New Adult, Mystery, Romance
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Disappointing
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Running On Empty is a book that basically forms around the premise of a girl, River, killing her boyfriend in an act of self-defense, getting her friends to help cover it up, and then avoiding the police for months. I honestly think this book could have gone in a lot of different directions, or even the same direction but slightly better developed, and it would have been ten times better. It wasn't the barebones idea that was the problem or anything, and Ballard could have definitely played with it and improved it and made it into an enjoyable novel. However, the way the book did end up going wasn't quite my cup of tea.

My first grievance may or may not be fair, but it did affect my feelings so it will be included: the horse factor. Now, don't be alarmed. This is by no means a horse book. Also, do not hate me and run away because you think I hate horse books or books that mention horses or people that like horse books. That's not true. I used to love horse books. Granted, I was never that girl in fourth grade who held the equestrian queen title with her horse stuffed animals and picture books. But I have read and enjoyed my fair share of them. But I'm kindof over them, you know? So when I read the first page of this book and River described her idea of sensory heaven and it all involved galloping horses and farms, I wasn't sure what I was in for. And then I kept reading and this girl lives in a trailer and her best friend works on a farm and it's got that whole feel to it, which isn't bad but isn't really what I was expecting from a thriller murder suspense book, you know? So it isn't really about the horses specifically, it's just about the whole feel of it, because you do visit that aspect of her life a lot.

Anyway, I also have an issue with the whole fact that a lot of the plot just kindof felt flat and forced to me. The beginning was pretty typical, I saw everything coming and it was all tropes and things you could see coming. Like the jerk boyfriend who she couldn't believe she was with because he was cute and smart and wealthy and all around perfect and she was just a plain Jane and so of course he could just go around being rude to her as long as he batted and eyelash and said I love you in the end. And of course there was the cute guy best friend who there is lots of lingering sexual tension with right from the get-go because why build any of that up, right? In the middle, the plot starts to gets better but the second half of the book gets predictable again.

I also thought the writing was weak, too. The dialogue was decent, but the writing itself felt choppy and took away from the story. I thought it needed a lot of editing and should have flowed a lot smoother in order to make the story work. A lot of River's voice got lost because the writing wasn't sophisticated enough to pull it through and I think that's what took away from a lot of the novel.

Overall, I think my disappointment stems from the fact that there was a lot of potential that could have been tapped into if this story had been twisted and molded in the right places. I know all the comments I've made are negative, but the negativity only extends far enough to make it a mediocre book, not a terrible one. I won't go around telling everyone to read it, but it does get two and a half stars, so take that as you will.

- Noor

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