Sunday, January 19, 2014

Running on Empty

Running on Empty by Colette Ballard 5 STARS

Running on Empty
Synopsis-What does it feel like when you die—in those final moments? Do you feel the physical pain, or just the pain of your regrets? What does it feel like when you realize you can’t answer these questions because you’re not the victim?

You’re the killer.
River Daniels lives an ordinary life as a high school junior growing up in the confines of rural Texas until her boyfriend’s brutal attack leaves her both a murderer and a fugitive. When River’s closest girlfriends come to her aid, they make a hasty decision to not only help her, but leave their own troubled lives behind and join in her escape. The girls manage to elude police for months, but with every near-miss, River’s life spirals further out of control, until she finally hits rock bottom. Realizing she must stop endangering her friends and find evidence proving she acted in self-defense, the girls decide to make a risky move. River must face her ugly past and the one person she was protecting the night her world caved in, the guy she has loved for as long as she can remember.

*I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 


Gripping. Intense.  Emotional. Powerful. Beautiful.  Running on Empty is an amazing coming of age story about finding strength when you least expect, and finding family in unexpected places. River, the main heroine, finds herself on the run with her best friends after her boyfriend's murder, trying to find evidence that would clear her name. The author does an amazing job of intertwining so many different genres, action, suspense, mystery and best of all romance. Each and every character had depth and growth throughout the book. I felt more than invested in the book and characters, but a part of the book.  I could relate to the range of emotions River went through during the entirety of the book.  Running on Empty was an emotional roller coaster that had me laughing, crying and most of all enjoying the ride! I haven't liked a book this much in a long time, and it reminded me of the reason I love to read and write. This is a must read for fans of: Out of Breath, and Going Under...

Plot- The plot here is simple. Girl's boyfriend winds up dead in a small town practically owned by his family. So girl goes on the run with the help of her friends to evade the law and in an attempt to find evidence to prove her innocence. There is so much more depth though to this simple plot. The author managed to take an age-old story and make it anew. Between River's amazing friends, to River's strength and stubbornness, to River's ultimate love, this book was touching and relatable, if not eerily realistic at times. Once I started the book, it was difficult to put it down, every page was as important as the one before it and the next. I loved the different paths that River and her friends took, the trouble that seemed to find them, and the crazy ways they managed to get out of trouble. Most of all though, I loved the relationship River shared with her friends, ad Justice. The beautifully interwoven love story was also sweet and so carefully written. I am in awe at the writing abilities of the author, the story could not have been better written.

I was blown away by the author's uncanny ability to develop so many characters and keep the integrity of the plot and emotional connection to the book. I felt like I knew the characters, that I was River and Kat and Billi Jo were my friends. I was truly transported to this world and life. Perhaps its true that I couldn't quite transport myself because I haven't experienced many of the aspects that River and her friends went through, but the author was able to make me feel as though I was a part of the book, and not just a behind the scenes reader. Truly amazing.

What brought River together with her friends happens to be a string of misfortunes and depressing events, but these three girls provided strength to one another when one was lacking, and stood by their friend regardless of the circumstances. A testament to true friendship and family. Not to mention unconditional love.

Each character in Running on Empty has depth, true emotional depth that the author managed to highlight throughout River's journey and adventure. The strength of these three girls' friendship is truly amazing, and I could only hope to have friends as devoted as these girls are to one another.

I also really enjoyed reading River's transformation. As told by River, it was truly remarkable to listen to her as she analyzed and rationalized her actions, like so many of us do. Her explanations made perfect sense to the person attempting to rationalize a negative aspect. Her shutting down and coming back to life, those thoughts, emotions and actions were not only made perfectly clear through the authors writing, but could truly be felt and related to, rationalizing of course is only human.

I liked that the characters came to life in more than one way, humanizing them even more by providing personality and depth. Between Kat and Billi Jo's wit and charm and their protective nature of River, and Justice's argumentative but protective and caring  ways really brought this story alive.

A poignant and gripping coming of age novel, that takes its readers on an adventure filled with mystery and plenty of romance and friendship.

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