Jason Cantrell's Reviews > Running Home

Running Home by Julie Hutchings
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Dec 05, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: supernatural-paranormal

Disclaimer: Julie Hutchings is a friend, so I can't promise to be completely unbiased in my review.

I'm not normally one for vampire books; I tend to consider most of the genre cliched and overdone. I lean towards the classics--Bram Stoker and Anne Rice--and away from anything with sparkly vampires. Because of that, I went into this book uncertain how I would feel about it, but curious to see what Julie had done.

The results had both ups and downs, but more ups by far, especially towards the end of the book.

Spoilers to follow.

One of the things I most enjoyed about this book was the unique take Julie took on vampires. Rather than merely feeding on people because they need blood to live, they actually serve a sort of mystical destined role. They will be called upon by a supernatural urge to kill people with "no fate"--people whose lives will lead to bad things for themselves and those around them if they aren't killed. Sometimes a vampire may still feed on someone purely for food, but when they are called upon to kill a destined person, they're doing a service to humanity by ending a life that "fate" has decided needs to end.

This was combined with some interesting twists on the vampiric powers. We see most of the usual abilities: heightened strength and speed, hypnosis/thrall, enhanced senses, etc. But vampires also have the ability to affect the minds of others so that their actions go unnoticed. This proves very interesting at once point when two vampires get into a fierce fight at a New Year's Eve party, while none of the party-goers even see that the fight is happening. It was also interesting to see that after a vampire feeds, they temporarily gain some of the personality traits of their victim, and the brief ability to go out into the sunlight while the victim's life force fuels them.

I also really liked the main character, Eliza. She was very relateable, and goes through some personal struggles throughout the book that built up a lot of sympathy for her. At the end of the book (again, spoilers), we find out that she is destined to become a vampire--once again, "fate" decrees who will become vampires, and she and the other main character, Nicholas, are drawn to each other by these threads of fate. Julie did an excellent job hinting at this throughout the book, so that an astute reader would have picked up on the clues, but not be certain until the main reveal.

I have a few criticisms as well. One is that the opening chapters are a bit slow; around the middle of the book the plot picks up and gets really gripping, but some of the earlier chapters could have been trimmed down. If I'd only read the first half of the book alone, I might have given that 3 stars, but if I'd only read the second half alone, I might have given that 5 stars. The fact that it picked up so well near the end, however, makes me eager for the upcoming sequel, "Running Away," since I think after that first half the author "worked the kinks out" of the characters and story and it'll be steadily uphill from here.

Related to that, part of the reason the second half was better was because it's in the second half that we are shown, rather than told, a lot of the details about vampires and their fate. In the first half we learn about all the vampiric lore, but most of it in the first half is explained by the character Nicholas. Having it explained like that was part of why the first half was less gripping; seeing the twists come into the plot itself in the second half was what really drew me in. The main twist near the end, when Nicholas learns that he is "destined" to kill Eliza's best friend Kat, caught me wonderfully by surprise and fueled the tension and conflict that carried out the rest of the story. I just wish a bit of that tension had been more present in the first half as well.

The only other complaint I have is that I didn't really like the character of Nicholas. He was too perfect: perfect physique, unbelievably handsome, eternally charming, stronger and more powerful than the other vampires, and seemingly without any character flaws (even when he learns Kat must die, he is too good and pure to go through with it). In the long run, Nicholas came across as too much of a fantasy come to life, a "Gary Stu" type of character. I would have liked to see more weakness or "human" characteristics in him to feel more sympathy to his character, the way I did with Eliza.

In the end, despite these few flaws, I really enjoyed this book. I also like the fact that there's a lot of "world" left to explore and some open-endedness that will lead into the next story. I'll definitely be buying the sequel when it comes out.
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Reading Progress

December 5, 2013 – Started Reading
December 5, 2013 – Shelved
December 5, 2013 – Shelved as: supernatural-paranormal
December 20, 2013 – Finished Reading

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