Karen Keyte's Reviews > Storm Runners

Storm Runners by Roland Smith
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's review
Apr 18, 2011

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bookshelves: tween-boys, teen-boys-realistic, teen-boys-adventure-mystery
Read from April 17 to 18, 2011

"Chase looked over at his father. He used to know him face-on. Now he knew him mostly in profile from the passenger seat." - from Storm Runners

As you might expect from a Roland Smith novel, Storm Runners is a taut adventure thriller, with kids using their knowledge and skills to tackle dangerous situations. At just 145 pages, it's also a quick, intense read and I give you fair warning: it leaves you dangling like an old-fashioned cliff hanger! Luckily, the second book of the planned trilogy is due out in the fall of 2011, so there's not too long to wait until you're able to find out what happens next. And believe me, you'll want to know what happens next.

For thirteen-year-old Chase Masters, life has taken some tragic and unexpected turns. A year after his mother and sister were killed in a car accident, Chase's dad was hit by lightning. That terrifying event changed Chase's father in ways that Chase can barely articulate, let alone comprehend. Once a respected builder, his dad now travels the country, arriving in each new place at just the right time to help rebuild communities devastated by tornadoes, hurricanes and other storm disasters. Aside from the time they spend together in their truck as they move from place to place, Chase sees very little of his father. Once their camper/trailer is set up in a new location (on high ground, at least 30 miles from the spot where John Masters thinks the storm will hit), his dad heads for ground-zero and generally stays in hotels until the rebuilding is done and it's time to move on to another storm. Chases talks to him on the phone daily, but it's not the same as having his father around.

With Hurricane Emily set to make landfall within a day or two, the Masters (and Tomås, John Masters's friend/assistant) have just set up in Palm Breeze, Florida. Luckily, Tomås's brother works for the Rossi family, so Chase's home base will be the Rossi farm, which just happens to be the winter home of the Rossi Brothers' Circus. It's certainlu not the worst place he's ever stayed - he could do without the lions and one particularly vicious leopard, but spending time with Nicole Rossi (who also happens to be thirteen) might not be all bad. So Chase is thinking this might be one of their better storm stops and feeling almost okay when Hurricane Emily takes a sudden turn and Chase, Nicole and one of their classmates find themselves stranded in the open and in a battle for their very lives. It's a good thing Chase's dad has made sure Chase is always prepared, because he is going to need every item in his storm emergency kit - and all of his wits - to keep them all alive through the night.

Roland Smith has a way of writing - sort of crisp and sharp - that keeps his stories cracking along and brings the characters and the dangers they face to vivid and immediate life. I got sucked right into Chase's story and finished the entire book in less than two hours. It's a great read, twisty and suspenseful with enough information about the main characters before the storm to make you care whether they make it or not. I hope they all make it, but I'll have to wait for part two (and ultimately, part three) before I can find out!


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