|Joan Bramsch: Chilled Run|
Information Station (Ebook), ISBN 0-934334-04-8
Victor Running Eagle decides that he doesn't like these statistics and spearheads a project to save all these endangered children. The project begins by taking one child from each country. One adult from the same country accompanies the child to a secret retreat in America where (supposedly) they learn peace, brotherhood and various ways of taking over the world.
A major weapon the grown-up (and now fully trained) children use to fight the secret army of the Old Guard is the Chilled Run. An apparently secret "corrective" facility, Chilled Run exists on an Arctic island. The agents trained by Victor Running Eagle kidnap Old Guard members, usually by faking their death, and send them to the facility for behavior and outlook modification.
A worthy subject to fictionalize, the idea of saving 100 million at-risk children falls down badly in its presentation. Chapter endings give the reader no reason to continue turning pages. For example, a chapter starts with the knowledge of a traitor infiltrating the retreat and ends with the elimination of that traitor. Most of the chapters follow this arrangement of problem found, problem solved -- the typical arrangement of a non-fiction book. In contrast, thrillers thrive on loose ends that twist in and out and around the plot until the very last chapter. The author's lone attempt to follow this model fails.
The shaky reasoning behind the plot also annoyed me. If a prominent figure in society "disappeared" for several years through an arranged "death," would that figure be readily accepted back into the same society? Wouldn't a few questions be asked -- and possibly a contract put on the prominent figure by the same Old Guard he used to belong to? Most especially after said prominent figure acts like a different person due to the brainwashing that radically altered his personality.
Secondly, Bramsch pounds her arguments regarding child abuse into the readers' brain rather than weaving them into the story. Chilled Run comes across as little more than a bully pulpit -- and one with a particularly grating sound system at that.
While some of the writing shines, overtures of formula romance wend their tired way through the text. Alas, Bramsch hasn't yet mastered the recipes for the thriller or the romance genres. But that may simply be a case of Bramsch putting too much of her passion against child abuse into a novel where she needed more plot.
Stephen John Smith
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