Title: Running From the Devil
Author: Jamie Freveletti
Genre: Thriller/ Political
Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)
Release Date: May 5, 2009
Wowzas. It has been a while since I've read a great fast-paced thriller with lots of action and a strong female character. This was also the first book I've read in a while (because of my own crazy schedule and all) where I constantly wanted to pick the book back up and didn't find myself distracted with other thoughts.
Running From the Devil takes off right from the first page with a plane being hijacked and crashing into the mountains of Colombia near the Venezuelan border -- an area known for the paramilitary groups and drug cartels that do their business in that region. Emma Caldridge has the fortune to be immediately separated from the rest of the passengers (most of whom do survive), as Emma remains unseen while the rest are taken hostage by Colombian guerrillas. Emma also has the extreme fortune of being an ultra-marathon runner, having the endurance and experience of running up to 100 miles at a time. This is sure to help her, of course, as she tries to travel through the jungle to find rescue while evading her own capture by the guerrillas. The Colombian government, despite alliances with the United States may not be as willing to take part in the rescue of Emma and the other passengers as the U.S. is led to believe. The Department of Defense and a private special forces team they contract with is aware of the situation and battles out the decisions on their end regarding sending it rescue forces or not.
Emma has some secrets too though... she had her own agenda for the trip, which was initially supposed to be from Miami to Bogota. As a chemist for a cosmetics company who is constantly working with plants to develop formulas for better skincare and make up, she has already found herself in political danger which she was hoping to put an end to with this trip.
There was a fairly balanced mix of Emma's experiences in the Colombian jungle and the political scenes back in DC. I actually enjoy these political scenes in thriller fiction so I, personally, would have enjoyed a tad bit more focus on that, but the rest was great too. I think those who typically read adult books and/or thrillers but enjoyed The Hunger Games will like this book -- it's also like a mix of that and the show Lost (but without the confusing sci-fi aspect). Sure, there were moments where things weren't quite as realistic as I would imagine, but who cares? It was fun and completely enjoyable, and I found a new strong female character to admire. The one thing that did irritate me about her, though, was the dichotomous thoughts she battled about not wanting to kill someone "in cold blood" as opposed to the necessity of saving herself.... I can only imagine that if I were stranded in the jungles of Colombia that were riddled with drug lords and guerrilla who were out to capture, hurt, kill me, etc. and I were in possession of a firearm, I wouldn't have trouble pulling the trigger -- buuuut I haven't been in that position and Emma Caldridge has, so who am I to say?
I thought the random ways Emma used plants in the jungle (remember, she's a chemist) were interesting and I liked that the author included in her note at the end of the book where she learned all that information from and how much was true and what had been fictionalized. Very interesting stuff though! This was the first in the series so some of these characters will appear in the next book.... I sort of foresee a love triangle coming which should be fun... we shall see!
The second book, Running Dark, was released in June, and I also have a copy of that to review so look out for it because I'll probably be reading it soon!