Thursday 31 May 2012

Running Wide Open (Full Throttle Book 1) - Lisa Nowak

Title: Running Wide Open (Full Throttle Book 1)
Author: Lisa Nowak
Genre: General Fiction
Published: 2011
Formats: Paperback/Ebook

"Running Wide Open" by Lisa Nowak is a YA novel that for once doesn't involve paranormal events, love triangles or female protagonists. I know that some of you are probably dumb struck that a YA novel like that could actually exist but this book honestly is different to the norm. Instead the book involves stock car racing, a troubled male protagonist and an emotional plot about overcoming the challenges of the past. I found the entire novel to be a refreshing change in addition to being an enjoyable and interesting read.

The story follows a 15 year old boy named Cody who does not have the healthiest of family lives. When, his rebellious ways leads to minor brush with the law he is sent away by his father to live with his uncle name Race, in order to avoid being sent to a military school. Cody is initially unable to take his uncle seriously as he eats Twinkies for breakfast, is dedicated to racing cars around in circles every weekend and has the most ridiculous name ever. Over time though, Cody learns to understand and respect his uncle and allows him to become the mentor and friend that he has been missing most of his life. However, when his uncle is involved in a terrible accident, Cody is suddenly forced to choose between reverting to his old ways or stepping up and showing loyalty and support to his uncle who faces the possibility that he may never race a car again.

In all honesty I am not a big stock car racing fan, I have never really seen the enjoyment in watching cars drive in circles. The only racing I really do follow is Formula 1 and it is pretty much in a different world to the racing portrayed in this book. However, Lisa Nowak has done a superb job in ensuring the reader is brought up to speed on the racing world as you get to discover the racing rules, car types and parts alongside Cody. I had no issue understanding what was going on and it was easy to get caught up in the thrill of the race.

The actual racing and car elements of the novel however aren't actually the main aspects of the book. There is a much deeper story here with the second half of the book really delving into Cody's growth as a person. It can at times be quite emotionally draining as Cody strives to accept both his past and current challenges and tries to become a better and wiser person. I felt that it was quite a complex area for a YA novel to enter, but I enjoyed the fact that the book did explore these elements amongst the backdrop of the racing world.

As this type of novel is based primarily around its characters, it was therefore not surprising to note that the characters were all quite vivid and memorable. I was able to gain a good understanding of most of them and could actually see things from their individual points of view which meant I was really able to get into the book. I think Cody himself was an interesting enigma, the regular bad boy aspects were all present but there was also an intellect and creativity that came out well. I did find it a little bit difficult to like him though due to his obnoxious streak but he did have an enjoyable sense of humour present and it was nice to see a deeper side present in this type of character.

One strange aspect of the novel though was in regards to it being set in the 1980s. I didn't really understand the need to utilise this period as all the issues that Cody faces are just as common today as they would have been in then. I had no real issue with this time period but I just found it to be an odd choice for a YA novel as I can't see many teens relating to the novel as much as they would have done had a current period been utilised.

Overall, I found "Running Wide Open" to be an admirable book that contained a complex and deep drama that many young adults should be able to relate to. Lisa Nowak has quite simply written an enjoyable and interesting story within a racing environment that has been depicted wonderfully so that anyone should be able to enjoy the book no matter their knowledge of stock car racing.

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

Challenges Book Counts Towards:
Ebook Reading Challenge (The Eclectic Bookshelf)
Ebook Reading Challenge (Workaday Reads)
Free Reads Challenge


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