Blake Crouch is one of the co-authors of the horror novel DRACULAS (along with Joe Konrath, F. Paul Wilson, and Jeff Strand), which I read and enjoyed several months ago. I’d never read any of Crouch’s solo work, though, until his new novel RUN, which I believe is available exclusively as an e-book right now.
RUN has a fairly simple plot. For some unknown reason, a large percentage of the population of the United States, northern Mexico, and southern Canada suddenly goes crazy and sets off on a rampage of murder and destruction. Society rapidly breaks down. Those who are unaffected by this bizarre phenomenon are left to fend for themselves, sometimes hiding out and sometimes running away in an attempt to save themselves from being slaughtered. Jack Colclough, a university professor in Albuquerque, New Mexico, his wife Dee, a doctor, and their two children, teenaged Naomi and seven-year-old Cole, go on the run and try to reach Canada, where there are refugee camps and they’ll be safe.
That’s almost all the plot. The family tries to survive against crazed killers and hostile wilderness. Just when you think maybe they’re safe, things get worse. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, you guessed it, they get worse. Like DRACULAS, this book is filled with gore and extreme violence.
Yet there are a lot of quieter moments of humanity showing through it, and Crouch strikes a near-perfect balance between them and the all-out action. RUN is also one of the fastest-paced books I’ve ever read, and the first one in a long time that I’ve stayed up too late in order to finish. The gradual revelation of what’s behind the transformations is interesting, and it’s a nice change from the current wave of zombie-themed fiction (not that there’s anything wrong with zombies . . . well, there is, but you know what I mean). And the ending is just about perfect as well.
RUN is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. If an abundance of gore doesn’t bother you too much, I highly recommend it.