About the book, Blue Running
- Genre: Dystopian Fiction / Coming of Age / Suspense
- Publisher: Moonflower Publishing
- Date of Publication: November, 2022
- Number of Pages: 334 pages
- Scroll down for Giveaway!
In the new Republic of Texas, guns are compulsory and nothing is forgiven. Blue Running is a gripping coming-of-age thriller set in post-secessionist Texas. A fast-paced, page-turning book, it looks unflinchingly at what the future could hold, and finds hope there.
Fourteen-year-old Bluebonnet Andrews is on the run across the Republic of Texas. An accident with a gun killed her best friend but everyone in the town of Blessing thinks it was murder. Even her father – the town’s drunken deputy – believes she did it. Now, she has no choice but to run. In Texas, murder is punishable by death.
On the road she meets Jet, a pregnant young woman of Latin American heritage. Jet is secretive about her past but she’s just as determined as Blue to get out of Texas before she’s caught and arrested. Together, the two form an unlikely kinship as they make their way past marauding motorcycle gangs, the ever-watchful Texas Rangers, and armed strangers intent on abducting them – or worse. When Blue and Jet finally reach the wall, will they be able to cross the border, or will they be shot down in cold blood like the thousands who have gone before them?
Some things are worth dying for.
Praise for this book:
- “Brilliant.” —Heat Magazine
- “A fast-paced story that races along, and stays with you long after you’ve finished it.” — The American
- “An important and unforgettable read.” — Armadillo Magazine
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About the author, Lori Ann Stephens
Novelist, librettist, lecturer Lori Ann Stephens grew up in North Texas, where she developed an addiction to the arts. Her novels for children and adults include Novalee and the Spider Secret, Some Act of Vision, and Song of the Orange Moons, and her award-winning work has been noted by Glimmer Train Stories, The Chicago Tribune, and the English National Opera. She teaches Writing and Critical Reasoning undergraduate courses, as well as creative writing graduate courses, at Southern Methodist University. She lives in Texas and is a bit mad about her cat.
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I’ve often found that the New Adult / Young Adult genre includes some of the most thought-provoking work in contemporary fiction, and Lori Ann Stephens’s latest novel, a dystopian thriller set in a near-future (or alternate reality – the distinction is unclear), frighteningly plausible version of Texas. Blue Running is so well crafted, it’s nearly unputdownable.
In this novel, Blue (Bluebonnet) Andrews, is running away from her hometown of Blessing because an accident with a gun killed her best friend, and even her father the town’s deputy (usually drunk) thinks she did it.
But the version of Texas this young woman must navigate is one that has seceded from the Union. Open-carry of guns isn’t just legal, it’s required, the state has become the very Christian Republic of Texas, replete with a wall to keep Texans in (and “scalers” out), and where undocumented immigrants are shot on sight by the Border Patrol, and death is the typical punishment for abortion. With the entirety of the Republic declared a no-fly zone, trains are the only way to cross the state without having to drive yourself.
Fortunately, Blue runs into Jet, a young Latina woman who is pregnant, and equally desperate to escape into the country beyond the wall: America. Along the way, the two encounter green-bandanna-wearing motorcycle gangs who are more ruthless than the Border Patrol, communities of convenience, including one called The Neighborhood, where they find temporary respite and new challenges, and even some artists who encourage Blue’s drawing talents. They also try to avoid the lethal Texas Rangers.
Both Blue and Jet feel like real young women caught in a horrible situation. Throughout the story they keep parts of themselves hidden from each other, but still aid and support each other. Jet has the better street smarts while Blue is better at blending in. They make a great team, and while it’s never made explicit, it’s likely that they will remain friends – or more – long after the story ends.
Author Stephens has written this book in a way only a native (or long-time resident) of Texas can. You can feel her love for the Lone Star State in the descriptions of the land and people, but you can also sense her dissatisfaction with the current political climate, and how it might expand in a worst-case scenario. This includes reproductive freedom as well as gun laws. Both issues were handled with delicacy, but sensitive readers should be prepared.
My review is based on the audiobook version of this story, which is read by Ashley Rose Kaplan who uses the perfect drawl – just enough Texas in her voice but not so much that her accent becomes a caricature. She changes her accent when Jet is speaking, adding to differentiate the characters, and alters her tone well for other characters, including the various men the young women run into.. It’s a perfect combination of story and narrator, and I felt her voice enhanced the experience of the novel.
Overall, this is a gripping story – part road trip, part flight for life – with a healthy dose of coming-of-age. I would not want to live in the version of Texas depicted in Blue Running, but I will happily read any future novels in this series.
Paperback of Blue Running
with autographed bookplate mailed separately
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 5/19/23)
Visit the Other Great Blogs on this Tour
Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life tour page for this book, or visit each blog directly.
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