Dara is an ordinary teenaged girl who comes upon an extraordinary find in Light Runner by Philip Brown. Living in an apartment with her dad, while mourning the recent loss of her mother, Dara discovers a silver and gold armlet in the apartment complex swimming pool. It emits an iridescent light and warmth, and then suddenly heals her knee injury. It seems to be good fortune finding this miraculous object, but it quickly starts looking more like a curse. Strangers follow her, her apartment gets broken into, she stumbles over a dead body, and her father goes missing. What follows is Dara’s quest to find her missing father and understand the significance of the healing armlet called the Jyotisha. She does her best to avoid the police as well as the mysterious Gunarik who is after her, but a video that captures her healing with the Jyotisha goes viral. Everyone knows who she is and it becomes harder to hide. With the help of a dog and her new friend Diego who she meets on the streets, Dara is determined to make sense of why all this chaos has found her.
Dara is a likable protagonist. She’s strong and smart, and she cleverly finds her way out of the most difficult situations. She takes matters into her own hands and sets out to save her father and defeat the bad guys without any adult help. While her reasoning for not getting help from the police is a bit of a stretch, it does make for an exciting story. Life on the streets of LA with other runaway kids enlivens the atmosphere, and Dara’s ability to stay hidden keeps readers cheering for this crafty teen. The healing Jyotisha also brings intrigue to the storyline. Its relation to her family’s past and its magical powers give an interesting supernatural element to the novel.
Brown’s use of dialogue to explain the plot is one of the novel’s downsides. Authenticity is lost when dialogue sounds more like the author talking to the reader than the characters talking to each other. At times, the characters’ motivations are not convincing but simply necessary to keep the story moving forward. Brown explains why some of the unrealistic things happen, and it helps readers understand the storyline, but it doesn’t allow the characters to honestly come to life. If he could have kept a more natural tone, and let the characters be more genuine, it would have been easier to fully immerse into this unique story.
Light Runner is for readers who would enjoy following the mysterious and supernatural adventures of a determined teen protagonist. Those who like rooting for an unlikely hero will enjoy Dara’s quest to survive the LA streets on her own. Readers more interested in an exciting plot than character development will more likely find this book entertaining.
The Rating3.5 Stars (out of 5): Pretty good. For the right audience, this could be great. Sure, there were some issues, but it was still worth the read.
The Pros & ConsPros: Plot