Book review: 'Runaway' won't be a runaway hit with readers

Posted April 13

"RUNAWAY" by Peter May, Quercus Publishing, $26.99, 336 pages (f)

Although Peter May's latest novel has an interesting premise, it’s unlikely people will run to the shelves to read “Runaway.”

Five boys run away to London to start a band, a decision which eventually leads them down a dark path. They steal cars, have premarital sex (which leads to an abortion) and even commit murder. Fifty years later, the boys — well, at least those who are still alive — head back to London to put things right and to figure out who committed a murder.

“Runaway” can be a very tough book to get through, especially if you’re a reader who’s unfamiliar with music culture from the 1960s. There are references to artists such as Buddy Holly, the Beatles and Johnny Cash, but other than that, it's likely readers will have to have grown up in the time to fully understand all the references.

This book also could have benefited from a stronger main character. Jack MacKay seems like he’d be the main character since he inspires the five boys to run away to London and his first-person perspective takes control of the flashback aspect of the book, but his friend Maurie also takes on a starring role throughout the story.

“Runaway” is also filled with several instances of uncomfortable material. Car theft dominates the first half of the book, and sex fills the middle section. The description of the abortion may be a little too vivid for some readers.

Still, the last quarter of the book has an attractive plot that may keep readers pushing through to the end. It’s full of suspense and has a fitting ending that wraps everything up.

The result is an uneven book that is better suited for older readers because of its adult content and the cultural references spread throughout.

“Runaway” features a heavy amount of swearing, physical and sexual violence, sexual situations, discussions on abortion, drug use and theft. It is not recommended for young readers or readers seeking family friendly material.

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.


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