Rumours of an impending global apocalypse don’t stop the young elite of New York from partying. A newcomer to the Manhattan elite scene, Skye Rogers is shocked when she’s invited to join a secret club who call themselves the Secret Runners of New York. And what do the runners do? Why, they run through an underground portal that transports them years into the future, of course. But what they discover about the future is truly horrifying, and even the rich can’t survive the end of the world.
Okay, so this is quite a difficult book to review. To be honest, it was pretty terrible, but I enjoyed it. There are so, so many things wrong with The Secret Runners of New York: the key things being the dreadful characters, the number of elements that simply didn’t make sense, and most of all, the frankly disgusting attitudes towards mental health throughout the book.
Let’s begin with the characters. They suck. I know the main characters are all spoilt, rich socialites and are therefore supposed to be superficial and detached from reality, but the way they’re completely insistent on maintaining their social standing and bullying their inferiors despite knowing for a fact that the apocalypse is coming and half of them are going to be dead in just a few days was completely unbelievable. Secondly, they’re clearly modelled on the kinds of characters we know (and love) from the likes of Gossip Girl, but with the unavoidable difference that the Gossip Girl upper East-siders were funny and likeable as well as being flawed. The Secret Runners, on the other hand, are lacking any redeeming features to make them remotely likeable. Even Skye, who I think is supposed to be kind of nice.
Moving on to the plot, I thought the actual story was OK. I loved the gamma cloud idea for ending the world, and that element seemed pretty well thought out. What I didn’t love was that there was no point to the runs that the runners did. Why didn’t they explore outside of the tunnel sooner? What’s the point in just running through a tunnel over and over again, even if you are technically also travelling through time?
Finally, the most problematic element to this book: Mental health. In lots of cases, the abuse directed at characters with mental health issues come from the more snooty and judgemental characters, which can be forgiven because, as already discussed, they are horrible people. However, the author’s treatment of the survivors of the gamma cloud with mental health problems or a reliance on medication as psychos and savages is unacceptable.
Also, a middle-aged man has no business writing from the point of view of a teenage girl, as is clearly demonstrated in the scene where Skye finds Misty crying in a cubicle, holding her blood-stained shorts after getting her period unexpectedly.
And yet, I enjoyed reading it.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.