Rating: 4 out of 5 (Great! Solid book with little or minimal issues)
While We Run by Karen Healey is the follow up to the entertaining 2013’s When We Wake (read my review here). This sequel did not disappoint and readers who enjoy science fiction and dystopia should be flocking to this series.
When we last left Abdi and Tegan, they were on the run from the Australian government. After learning the true goal behind the cryonics program, they tried to spread the truth to the public without success only to be found and captured. Now prisoners, they are forced to be spokespeople for the cryonics program encouraging the public to support and donate to the cause. In order to comply, they are put under physical and emotional torture. Feeling helpless and beaten down, Abdi is forced to watch Tegan tortured if he does not comply with his evil handler, Diane’s, every whim. Will they rise above and escape? Can they save the public?
My Thoughts: No Sugar Coating in this Book!
I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of this book and it did not disappoint. Let me start off the positives with the beginning of the book. I was immediately sucked back into the story. Considering I read the first book last year, that is quite an accomplishment. I was utterly captivated by Adbi and Tegan’s imprisonment. The torture and mind games played by their captors resulted in complex thoughts and emotions from Abdi, the narrator of this story. There is no sugar coating his feelings toward the world, Tegan, and his primary torturer Diane. Healey doesn’t gloss over those feelings, instead she delves deeper by making Abdi’s inner conflict front and center. While being tortured, Abdi is made to believe that Tegan has conformed resulting in resentment and hatred toward someone he thought he loved. Abdi is confused and emotionally exhausted bringing him to the brink. He is trying to sort out his feelings for Tegan, but the abuse he endured leaves a permanent scar. As the book goes on you learn more about the torture Abdi in particular experienced and it answers a lot of questions about his sanity.
Another element I loved about this story is the evil Diane. She is a GREAT villain who you want to see killed in the most horrible way imaginable. That is truly how you know you have created a great villain (Commodious in Gladiator anyone? How about Joffrey in Game of Thrones?). She is sick, twisted, and without feeling who will stop at nothing to inflict pain. Her character blows away any traces of sugar and fluff in the story which I absolutely love.
This little gem below is when Abdi didn’t comply with Diane’s wishes. To get back at Abdi she forces him to watch Tegan be tortured.
“You know how this works, Abdi.” Diane sighed. “I’d hoped you’d learn a little faster. I really don’t enjoy having to do this.”
That was a lie. Diane loved her job. It was in the mocking slant of her smile as she held the screen in front of my eyes. Sometimes I wondered what had been done to her to make her like this. Surely she hadn’t been born evil.
“You’ll watch,” she said, her voice quiet and clear. “You’ll watch and you’ll remember. (pg. 31)
While I enjoyed Abdi’s refreshing and unique narration, it made me realize how much I liked and missed Tegan’s voice. During the story, I found myself pondering her thoughts and missed her sassy and strong personality. What I loved so much about the first book, is missing in the sequel; however, I wouldn’t change it. The story needed to be told by Abdi, but I would have loved a chapter told from Tegan’s perspective.
The ending is somewhat open, but for the most part tied up. I liked the ending, but would definitely welcome a third book. Out of the two books, I like the first one a little bit better because of the focus on Tegan. Check out this series!