While We Run by Karen Healey Review

Monday, May 5, 2014

Title: While We Run
Author: Karen Healey (Twitter)
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
Publish Date: May 27, 2014
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopia
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher

Abdi Taalib thought he was moving to Australia for a music scholarship. But after meeting the beautiful and brazen Tegan Oglietti, his world was turned upside down. Tegan's no ordinary girl - she died in 2027, only to be frozen and brought back to life in Abdi's time, 100 years later.

Now, all they want is for things to return to normal (or as normal as they can be), but the government has other ideas. Especially since the two just spilled the secrets behind Australia's cryonics project to the world. On the run, Abdi and Tegan have no idea who they can trust, and when they uncover startling new details about Project Ark, they realise thousands of lives may be in their hands.
When I read book one in this series, When We Wake, I remember being distinctly impressed by the crossover nature of the novel, perfectly merging science fiction and dystopia into a melting pot of drama. So, naturally, as a series this excited me even more. Author, Karen Healey, has crafted a story in which our protagonists are out of touch with the reality in which they're now forced to live, giving readers a distinct "out of body" sort of impression with her novels. And, while book one offered us the world from Tegan's point of view, While We Run changes things up a little, and we now get to see the world through Abdi's eyes. 

I've always been a fan of the male perspective for young adult novels, in large part because I find it too rare. The voice in While We Run is certainly no exception. Abdi was a hauntingly unique character, and he's one that made it almost a little difficult to trust his voice, offering us a bit of a catch-twenty-two as we're exploring the world and the fallout of Project Ark. In the world in which Tegan and Abdi live, it's difficult, if not impossible, to trust anyone - especially each other. There is a distinct, acrid note of distrust in Abdi's viewpoint, and reading through his eyes, it was amazing to see the ability he had to truly manipulate a situation in his favor when necessary. He could break things, people and events into their tiniest counterparts, analyze them, and rearrange them to benefit him whenever needed, which made him a fascinating but dangerous character to follow.

What I loved most about While We Run though, was that it's more of a follow-up novel to its predecessor than most sequels I've ever read before. Rather than simply throwing us into the melee of a new problem or dilemma, this sequel explores much of the aftermath of the events of the former novel, as well as its significant impact on our characters today. I will say that it frustrated me, at times, to lack the action with whim I'm so familiar in sequels, simply because the stakes are already raised. However, it's a very internalized sort of novel in which you can't help but read, absorb and understand that while, yes, the fallout is happening all around, it's most definitely strongest for Abdi and Tegan, and that's where the power lies. 

While We Run is a bit of an outlier in terms of sequels, simply because it gives us a more open-ended finish than many of us might be used to. While we get a sense of resolution and conclusion, there's also a lot left unfinished, which gives us hope, nerves and undeniable curiosity for what happened next. It's a powerful and well-done tool of Ms. Healey's, and it might be the only time I'll ever enjoy an ending like that. I give this novel a strong 4 out of 5, and I definitely recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy science-fiction and dystopian novels, as well as a male POV.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. I haven't read the first book in this series yet, but wow, your review definitely convinced me to give it a shot. I like the sound of the cross-over of the genres. It also seems like the male POV is well done. I'm just a little bit worried about how I would feel about the open ending though. I tend to dislike those.
    Lovely review, Melissa!

  2. "Rather than simply throwing us into the melee of a new problem or dilemma, this sequel explores much of the aftermath of the events of the former novel, as well as its significant impact on our characters today."

    LOVE that Melissa! Exploring the ramifications of the prior book's events is so rare in sequels it seems, like you said, normally something might be mentioned in passing and then a whole slew of new problems are added to the mix. Even though focusing on the aftermath may have slowed the story down a bit, it's obviously still a great read. Thanks for the recommendation my friend!

  3. Ooh, this sounds really good! I haven't read the first one, yet, though. I need to get on that, definitely. Abdi sounds like an intriguing character and, like you, I really enjoy reading a book told by a strong male character.

  4. I had not see this one around before, but it sounds good

  5. I received this for review but hasn't picked up the previous novels as of yet, but I'm definitely planning to start as you've enjoyed this series so much. It seems to be that rare dystopian that actually works, so that's definitely a relief. ;)

  6. I don't remember this one, or the first novel. Not surprising with the number of novels out there, but still... It's interesting that the 2nd book deals with the aftermath. You are so right that most novels, sequels keep moving forward rather than stand around cleaning up. Glad you enjoyed it.

  7. I've never heard of this series, but it does sound intriguing. I like the change to male narrator because it seems we read mostly female POVs. Nice to see this worked out for you so well. Great review, Melissa! :)


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