A teenage runaway makes the best of a bad situation.
Xander’s had his share of hardships, and he can’t wait to finish high school and go off to college and start his life far away from the small town and painful memories. But when Xander’s rage-filled father kills Xander’s mom, things take a sudden turn for the worse. With his father on the lam, the skinny white teen makes a hasty decision to skip town, armed with a fake ID, a knife, and a handful of cash, eventually settling in Burlington, Vermont. Running away is just the first of several increasingly poor decisions Xander makes. Readers will fume as Xander makes boneheaded moves over and over again. More frustrating is the author’s curious decision to ignore the pulpy possibilities inherent in the novel’s premise and turn the latter half of the book into a character study. Unfortunately, the author’s characters don’t hold up to much analysis. Xander befriends a black Manic Pixie Dream Girl named Kat, who is full of groaners like “One of the worst things we can do to people is not see them.” The conversations between Xander and Kat stop the novel’s momentum. Who cares about existential angst when there’s a violent killer on the loose tracking down the protagonist?
A great concept obliterated by a lack of focus. (Thriller. 12-16)