Capitalizing on The Hunger Games’ teen-vs.-totalitarianism formula while adding a religious spin, this action-packed first novel follows a teenager fleeing authorities in a repressive future society.
Sixteen-year-old Chrissie, a fledgling Christian, embarks on her titular run after the atheistic government of the New Republic mandates that her deformed baby be aborted. Despite the book’s clearly religious focus, the story never falls into ham-handed preachiness or unsatisfying deus ex machina (aside from one character’s return from an Obi-Wan Kenobi death). Instead, the novel handles its convictions in a method accessible to any reader. Since Chrissie wants to keep her baby, its mandated abortion is abhorrent to all political views, and even an atheist could agree that religious persecution is wrong. (The latter theme also benefits from Mahan’s drawing historic parallels to the persecution of early Christians.) Mahan shows the same deftness with her thriller writing as she does with the religious threads. Chrissie’s tense flight evokes paranoia as the authorities employ clairvoyants and offer a reward for finding her. Her protectors are futuristic presentations of biblical figures like Moses and Samson, while the bad guys are nasty, ruthless supervillains, making for great comic book–like action. The only real nits to pick come in the last third of the book. In captured Chrissie’s re-education center, a “was it all in your head” twist isn’t given enough time to toy with the audience. Elsewhere, the execution-happy New Republic shifts in its attitudes toward her baby, Daniel, conveniently opting to keep him alive to milk his powers. A clumsily written final chapter sets up a sequel.
Despite third-act flaws, an exciting YA Christian thriller.