Runaway Train

Author: Lee Matthew Goldberg

Publisher: Wise Wolf Books

Release Date: April 26, 2021

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Go back to the 90’s on an adventure of self-exploration and finding yourself after almost losing everything.

Nico is sixteen when her world is turned upside down, her sister died of a brain aneurysm and her parents can’t deal with her acting out while being so self-absorbed in their own lives. Nico decides it might be best if she ran away and discovered herself before totally spiraling out of control. She sets out to find the grunge scene and the home of her idol, Kurt Cobain. While on the road, she discovers more about herself than she ever expected and is able to check a few items off her bucket list.

Runaway Train had a lot of potential but tried way, way too hard to portray a hip teenager in the 90s. For being a young adult novel, I always hate it when there is so much harsh language and mature themes. I get it, I was there in the 90s as part of the alternative scene, but it can be portrayed in a different way to still be effective.  So many times throughout the novel it was obvious Goldberg was trying to channel a teenage girl in the 90’s, and speaking as someone who was a teenage girl in the 90s, he missed the mark big time. Not once could I picture myself as Nico or any of the other characters in the book, and not just that they acted different than I would have, none of what was being said worked for me as slang or anything else for this time period. I do remember wearing Doc Martins and the music of the era is correct but once again used in over the top ways. Watch Captain Marvel and you can see how to portray the 90s without going to this level.  It is a good story of self-exploration and adventure, but not enough to make me want to give it another shot or recommend to anyone. And yes, the title reference to Soul Asylum was not lost on me.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

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