Saturday, January 17, 2009

Daylight Runner by Oisín McGann

Daylight Runner by Oisín McGann
Copyright 2006
EOS (a HarperCollins imprint)
Young Adult - SciFi/Dystopian
341 pages

I read Daylight Runner for Estella's Revenge and have opted to post my review on the blog, as well, because I think this book and the author deserve a lot of exposure. I really hope Oisín McGann's work will grab a good, firm foothold in the U.S. with this release -- mostly, for purely selfish reasons; I'd love to read more of his work. McGann is an Irish author.

Daylight Runner (originally published as Small-Minded Giants) tells the story of Solomon Wheat. Sol and his father live in a huge, domed city called Ash Harbor, a haven built into the crater of a volcano when Earth was plunged into an Ice Age toward the end of the 21st Century. Over 100 years have passed since Ash Harbor was established, and things aren't running as smoothly as they used to.

When teenage Sol's father disappears after being accused of murder and two strangers attack the teen in his apartment, Sol goes in search of his father. But, asking too many questions in Ash Harbor is dangerous. The entire city is powered by the Machine and there is talk that the Machine is protected by dangerous people known as the Clockworkers. With all of its residents dependent upon the Machine, those who control Ash Harbor's energy possess enormous power.

Suspicious accidents and disappearances along with posts about impending doom placed on the web by a small band of rebels stir up discontent among citizens. But, are the rumors enough to promote change? As Sol searches for the truth about his father, with the help of a frightening ally who claims to be a friend of Sol's father, Gregor Wheat, Sol and his friend Cleo discover that not only their lives are in danger, but the entire city may be on the verge of disaster. Forced to run for their lives, Sol and Cleo decide the only way out is to come up with a plan. But, the Clockworkers are ever-present and time is running out.

So, here's what I thought of this book: Wow. Daylight Runner is one heck of a ride. Once Sol realizes his father is missing -- accused of a murder Sol is sure he would not have committed -- and Sol is swept up in the deadly game of unraveling the mystery of his father's disappearance, there is almost no time to breathe. Sol ends up with a truly scary, possibly psychopathic man named Maslow helping him navigate the underground and rooftops of the city. Eventually, Cleo is swept into the life-threatening intrigue when she tries to help Sol dig for answers.

What I loved about this book: It's packed with action and I liked the characters. It was easy to root for them. There are a few characters, including Maslow, who fit into a gray area. You never know whether they're truly good or bad guys until the end. The Machine is a rather complex thing and it took me a while to grasp the idea of a world in which trams are carried by cranes. Somehow that didn't seem very futuristic to me. But, eventually, the author explains how the movement of people, trams, and automobiles is all a part of the working of the Machine that keeps them alive. Everything is perfectly balanced. The world of Ash Harbor is really an amazing, fascinating creation.

What I didn't like: Daylight Runner is loaded with violence and Cleo is a drug user. Sol has no choice but to kill in self-defense, Cleo is willing to take risks to get her hands on some "stem" to smoke . . . it's horrifying, at times, although I think every little bit of what happens feeds so well into the plot that it's hard to criticize. There were times I wished something good would happen so that as a reader I could have a bit of a breather from the intensity level, but as I closed the book it just seemed to me that the storyline worked brilliantly and any soft moments thrown into the mix might have actually ruined the ominous atmosphere.

In general: Daylight Runner is such a breathtaking thrill ride that I highly recommend it. But, do be aware of the violence and intensity level if you're considering acquiring this book for a youngster. I'd say high school age is about the minimum (my opinion only). Adults who like sci-fi, fantasy, futuristic and dystopian novels will probably also enjoy it. The world of Ash Harbor is a dark and terrifying place and things keep growing worse until the end -- an ending which I personally found extraordinarily satisfying. Some might think it's wrapped up a little too neatly, but not this reader.

Many thanks to Nat for suggesting a way to get that accent over the second "i" in the author's name!


  1. Sounds like a book that I would enjoy! I added it to the wish list, in any case. Thanks for the review!

  2. That looks like a book my son would like.

  3. This sounds like a great addition to my YA collection, thanks for the review.

  4. Kailana,

    I do think Daylight Runner may be right up your alley!


    My youngest will probably like the book, too, if I can just put it somewhere prominent and get him to pick it up on his own. He's gotten a little contrary about my helpful suggestions, lately. :)


    You're very welcome! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  5. OT--

    Can you add my book blog?


  6. Melissa,

    Yes, ma'am. Done!

  7. Daylight Runner sounds really good, Nancy. There are times when I crave high intensity books. I don't read a lot of science fiction, but I do enjoy the genre when I do read it.

  8. Well it sounds different! I'm always a little hesitant with futuristic, dystopian novels because I'm not too crazy about sci-fi but this sounds like a good one!

  9. Wendy,

    If and when you're craving high intensity, you'll probably enjoy Daylight Runner. We're alike in that I don't read a lot of sci-fi, but I tend to enjoy it when I do. It's one of those genres that I just insert into my reading, now and then.


    I have an odd adoration for futuristic dystopian novels. I'm not sure where it comes from, but I like to toss one into my reading mix every so often. Sci-fi is kind of a rare treat, to me, and I tend to be very choosy. I thought Daylight Runner was an excellent read.

  10. Wow, this sounds great! I usually shy away from this type of book but I am intrigued. Great review!

  11. Samantha,

    Thank you! It's a fascinating book. I admit that I like being transported to other worlds. :)

  12. I tried to comment on this when it first appeared in my reader but it said that the post wasn't up! Anyway this sounds AMAZING! and it went straight onto my wishlist with a little reminder that it's "all Bookfool's fault" for when I buy it ;)

  13. Chris,

    Sorry about that. The post disappeared because the image of Small-Minded Giants vanished when I hit "publish". So, I tried to go back and add it and accidentally hit the "save as draft" button, which took it right back off the blog. I do things like that.

    I thought about you while I was reading Daylight Runner, actually. It really does seem like the kind of book you'll like. It's intense and occasionally I had to set it down and walk away for a bit, but I thought it was very, very well-written. I need to see if any of his other books have been published in the U.S.

    Wahoo! I want blame points!!! :)

  14. I'm so glad you liked this one!!!

  15. Andi,

    Me, too! It's the one that screamed at me the loudest (and I'm glad it did). :)


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