Saturday, 22 March 2014

Review: Running on Empty by Colette Ballard

Title: Running on Empty
Author: Colette Ballard
Release date: May 6th 2014
Publisher: Tulip Romance
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: eARC
Pages: 312
Source: NetGalley

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 was intrigued by this book as soon as I read the blurb. It sounded fascinating and thrilling, with a fast-paced plot and a sweet romance. And that's exactly what it is! Running on Empty is a beautiful novel, and unique in so many ways. I was sucked into this book right from the start, and I connected with the characters almost instantly.

River lives in a trailer park with her younger sister and stepfather, Jack. She has a simple life, but she loves it. She has a love for horses and riding that she shares with her best friend, Justice. But her relationship issues are another matter. When her boyfriend Logan gets a little too drunk and things escalate, River panics and accidentally shoots him with his own gun. From then on, River is a fugitive. But she's not alone - her best girl friends go on the run with her, and they face things they've never had to before. River will do anything to clear her name, but she won't do it at the cost of harming her friends and Justice, the guy who's always been there for her through everything.

At first, I was astounded that a seemingly sensible and tough girl like River would date an asshole like Logan and let him treat her badly. And she never even paid attention to the advice and warning from her friends. But later we do find out why she put up with him, and I guess I can understand it. Sometimes, all people want is to be loved, and that's how River felt with Logan. River is loyal to a fault, and she'd do anything to protect those she cares about. She's strong and determined, and I find it really cool that she loves horses so much. I've always wanted to ride one.

I adored River's friends, too - Kat and Billi Jo. Both are completely different from one another. It was interesting to see how well they got along despite that. Kat is gorgeous and stylish, and she definitely knows how to use her feminine wiles to get what she wants. Billi Jo, on the other hand, is kind of a tomboy, and is extremely blunt. She's honest and straightforward, oh and she's a little bit addicted to cigarettes and weed. Like River, neither of these girls have a great home life, and maybe that's what brought the three together. Their friendship is amazingly strong, and though they do fight, it's obvious how much the three of them care for each other.

The other major character in the book is Justice, River's best friend and later love interest. I definitely liked him, especially how he looked out for River all the time. He warns her from the beginning about Logan, but River, stubborn as she is, doesn't listen. Justice would do just about anything for River, as we see later in the novel. I liked how they're best friends for ages and then get together later. Definitely no insta-love here! And that makes their feelings all the more deeper.

The romance is kind of clichéd at times, and there's quite a bit of cheesiness towards the end. But I loved it regardless, though I don't usually. Like this, for example, is definitely cheesy but it gave me tingles.

“You lead the way, I’ll follow. I’m the puppet to your strings, the beat to your drums, the sprinkles to your ice cream, whatever,” he laughed. “Whatever you want, just say the word. I’m not goin’ anywhere.”
 Justice is so worth swooning over, seriously. I loved all the scenes with him in it. And his constant banter with River is really cute, too.

There are quite a lot of surprises in this book, and I liked the fact that most of them are unpredictable. I loved the parts where the girls are on the run, because those are fraught with danger and suspense. In the latter part, the romance kind of takes a front seat for a while, and the pace gets slower. I would have preferred less of that, but I'm not complaining since I really liked this book.

Overall, Running on Empty certainly surprised me and it's way better than I thought it would be. This is a can't-miss for contemporary lovers. The characterization is brilliant and the plot will get you hooked in no time.

*Thank you to Tulip Romance for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 4/5

1 comment:

  1. I think River would annoy me. I'm interested to find out how the author is able to incite sympathy to a girl unable to stand up to her assholic boyfriend.

    Great review, Richa.


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