By Author / Illustrator
Oxford University Press
Paperback / softback
Zinny's life is falling apart. Shadowy figures are following him. His parents are keeping secrets but he can't figure out why. Then his mum ends up in hospital, his dad disappears, and Zinny has to do whatever he can to save his family. Even if it means helping the very men he's been running from . . . As the clock ticks, Zinny knows it's only a matter of time before someone ends up dead - and it could be him.
Night Runner is a pacey psychological thriller with a believable and likeable central character who, step by step, finds himself embroiled in crime and a life-threatening situation through no fault of his own.
Like most teenagers, Zinny wants his home life to be smooth and his family to stick together. Unfortunately for Zinny - and many other young people will relate to this - his parents are less than perfect; his father is an alcoholic and abusive, and Zinny discovers that both his parents are keeping secrets from him.
After their home is burgled Zinny notices someone watching the house. He realises that danger is around the corner but seems unable to steer away from it and, after a series of poor decisions, Zinny finds himself caught up in an underground criminal network, while his mum is in hospital with bullet wounds and his father keeps disappearing.
The story has many layers and is a thoroughly satisfying read for able readers aged 12+ as well as being enticing to more reluctant readers - at just over 200 pages, the book is slim enough to not be off-putting and tense enough to keep readers going.
Bowler, as you'd expect, tackles some gritty themes including gang violence and murder, but it is never overwhelming and the story has a satisfying, upbeat ending.
Suggested Reading Age 11+