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Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite
Joseph Woodward pens an action-packed young adult adventure in Back Running. How do you survive without any electrical power? No internet. No gasoline. No stocked supermarkets. The world is about to find out. In the aftermath of a world-wide power blackout, Coach Bob Byson and his family ponder how they will survive. Good people are now resorting to looting their neighbors. No one is safe. Every country is vulnerable. Coach Bob is determined to find a way to survive. It’s time to suck it up and do something! He and his family head to his dad’s cabin in the hills of South Carolina. Once they settle in, the Byson family meets a neighbor they didn’t know even existed. How could they? Their reclusive Russian neighbor, Yuri, lives in a well-hidden bunker. Yuri has built a fully equipped and powered laboratory underground. The Bysons and Yuri set out to provide portable power to the citizens of the USA. This is a dangerous task; many foreign countries want this new technology and are willing to kill to get it.
Back Running by Joseph Woodward is an intriguing, espionage-filled, dystopian thriller. In the preface of the novel, Joseph Woodward poses some interesting questions. These quandaries prepare the reader for what is about to unfold. History seems to repeat itself in regards to the struggle for power: “enough is never enough – that’s our nature.” The narrative jumps immediately into the story’s plot within the opening paragraphs of Chapter One. This sense of urgency is sure to appeal to the young adult reader. The science and technology is presented in an effective and understandable way, it's “sciency” without being over scientific. The key players in the fight for technology are familiar nemeses, making the espionage aspects realistic. Being raised by a football coach myself, I love that the main character is a coach and the use of football-related analogies throughout the narrative.
Woodward remains faithful to the theme of family and unity written in his other books. In Back Running, he pens family values, patriotism, and respect for the young and old in critical conditions. He also doesn’t downplay the “kill or be killed” in the fight for survival and the common good. The vast cast of characters revolves around the nucleus of the main characters, adding depth and different perspectives to the story. The action is fast, accompanied by thrills and spills, and twists and turns. So tighten your seat belt and get ready for the ride. Joseph Woodward’s Back Running doesn’t disappoint.