Storm Runners

0-545-08175-0

Author: Roland Smith

Publication: 2011, Scholastic

Pages: 143

Overall Rating:   bth_4-star-rating_zps38e772a0[1]                      

Rating for Action: bth_3-star-rating_zps73bdba73[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_35_zps7a173504[1]

Age Category: 9-12

Brief Summary: Chase Masters and his dad run a very specialized kind of business.  They go wherever a big storm is threatening to blow in, provide free help to prepare for it, and then charge the big bucks afterwards to help people clean up and fix their homes and businesses.  They live on the road and Chase has been to four different schools in the last year.

They’ve just arrived in Florida for Hurricane Emily, and set up shop on the grounds of a farm run by Nicole Rossi and her family.  While Chase’s dad heads off to St. Petersburg to help people prepare for the storm and drum up business, Chase tries his best to settle in at yet another new school.

The trouble is, the storm doesn’t follow its predicted path.  Instead of making landfall in St. Petersburg, it speeds up and switches direction, hitting far earlier than anyone had expected.  Now Chase, Nicole, and their new friend Rashawn are trapped, miles from home.  Their school bus is underwater, the driver dead, and they’re trying to make it to safety in the middle of a massive, category 5 hurricane.

Age of Main Character: 13

What I Liked the Most: The book is short and fast paced, but it doesn’t skimp on setting up the background and making Chase, his dad, and Nicole into believable, well-rounded characters with enough oomph to carry the story.  While the latter half of the book is dominated by action, it’s not soulless.  Chase, Nicole, and his dad are all in the thick of things and everything they do feels in character.

What I Liked the Least: This is a minor complaint, but Storm Runners is not a stand-alone book.  It’s the first in a two book set about Chase and his battle with Hurricane Emily.  But the book is only 143 pages.  It’s hard for me to see why this story should be broken into two books except as a ploy to make more money.

My other complaint is that, short as Storm Runners is, Smith tries to follow at least three different story lines.  So while most of the action is on Chase and his friends, Smith keeps breaking off to also follow his dad and the activities of a local news anchor.  At 143 pages, I would have preferred it if Smith had focused all his energy on Chase and added a few more obstacles to his battle with the hurricane.  Even though he, Nicole, and Rashawn have to go through a lot to get to safety, I felt like they could have stood up to more – and maybe would have if the story wasn’t getting sidetracked and interrupted by other plots.

How Good was the Action? The action is well done, and during the second half of the book it’s pretty continuous.  But it didn’t always pull me in as much as I would have liked.  There were plenty of times when, despite the danger swirling all around, I didn’t feel enough fear and tension to really pound the action home.

How Engaging was the Story? For such a short book, the characters felt quite real.  There’s a lot of action once the storm hits, and a fair bit of flipping around between different characters and stories.  While I think that makes Chases struggle a little less intense than it could have been, it also keeps the story chugging right along.  It’s the kind of book that will only take you an afternoon to read, but you won’t want to put it down until you get to the last page.   

Profanity: None

Sex: None

Violence: Little to none.  A bus driver dies of a head injury, and there are plenty of close calls with alligators and flying debris, but no fights and no real blood or violence of any kind.

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