This week's theme is "Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters who/that _________________)" and we are all filling in the blanks with different things. Fun? Fun.
So whether they are fleeing the law, dodging their past, or just constantly hunted by someone, here are some of my favorite books where characters are on the run*:
1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
This one probably needs no explanation, but Les Miserables is the epic story of Jean Valjean (Prisoner #24601) who steals a loaf of bread, skips out on parole, and then spends his entire life on the run from Inspector Javert. It is also about so much more: politics and history, mercy, forgiveness, courage, the law, good and evil, rebellion, and ultimately, love. True, there are passages in the center about Parisian sewers and criminals argot, but there are also some of the most beloved characters of all time.
2. Written in Red (Others #1) by Anne Bishop
|Don't discount the cover. If I had, I'd never have gotten hooked on a current favorite series!|
3. Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
Captain Blood is basically romantic, fantasized history about pirates. Peter Blood is a physician and former soldier, content with his lot. But when he helps a man wounded in the ill-advised rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth (which was Blood's duty as a doctor!), he is sentenced to slavery in the Caribbean colonies. As a slave, he falls in love with the daughter of his master (never a good idea), befriends his fellow slaves, and then steals a Spanish ship and becomes the most noble and adventurous pirate of them all. If you liked the first Pirates of the Caribbean or any Errol Flynn movie, you should like Captain Blood.
4. Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer
|These covers are amazing|
5. The Westmark Trilogy by Lloyd Alexander
A. A lot of the characters are either fugitives or on the run at various times, B. Theo, one of the leads, is physically on the run in Westmark and both emotionally/physically "running" in the following two novels.
Theo starts out as just a printer's devil, but printing the wrong pamphlet sets a spiral of terrible events in motion that turn Theo into a fugitive. While running from basically everyone, he teams up with other misfits and they end up saving the kingdom. But then The Kestrel happens. Theo now finds himself embroiled in a terrible war, unable to go home, and the horror changes him. In the third book, The Beggar Queen, Theo and the rest of the cast return to being fugitives, determined to overthrow a dictatorship.
In short, these books are a little Les Mis, a little Tale of Two Cities, with both humor and depth. And a lot of running.
6. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding
This book is one of the spookiest I have ever come across. Set in an alternate Victorian London, it follows Thaniel the wych-hunter (wych is a one-size-fits all term for supernatural monsters here), committed to protecting people from the ever-increasing swarm of monsters that seem to infect London, alongside his mentor Cathaline. When they meet the half-crazed, half-possessed Alaizabel, things rush toward the end of the world at a good clip. Alaizabel isn't just possessed, of course, every creature and monster seems drawn to her, which is why she is on the run in the first place. By the end of the novel, anyone around her is also on the run if they want to live. Creepy, atmospheric, and tense, this is still one of my favorite monster novels.
7. The Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman
Shusterman's writing is intense, and his worldbuilding superb, so I can't wait to read more of his work!
Starting with Unwind, this series takes place in a dystopian world where 1. Abortion is illegal, 2. Children can be "unwound" (organs donated/transplanted so life doesn't technically end) between ages of 13 and 18 and 3. Children can be born specifically for unwinding.
I don't want to give too much away, but the three main characters are obviously all candidates for unwinding, which is how they get to be on the run. These books are thought-provoking and chilling, and worth a read!
8. Lost in a Good Book (Thursday Next #2) by Jasper Fforde
In both the second and third installments, Thursday is pursued by the terrible Goliath Corporation who ****spoiler, her well-meaning friends, and the authorities pursuing her father (a man on the run himself). On top of all this, the poor woman is pregnant.
9. Kidnapped, by Robert Louis StevensonAnother classic novel, in which the young David Balfour is pursued by the authorities and befriended by the roguish rebel Alan Breck. They are on the run for most of the novel, but that doesn't stop them from developing a great camaraderie and rapport. The Scots dialect is pretty darn authentic, but don't let it stop you. This is a great adventure novel with a lot of heart, and running.
10. The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell
The biggest strength is actually the villain, General Zaroff: a Russian aristocrat who has decided big game hunting isn't extreme enough. Read it, and you'll see inspiration for so many popular books/movies/TV show episodes.
And while it isn't profound, it is pretty thrilling :)
Honorable mentions: Howl's Moving Castle (trust me, Howl's character is defined by running away), Incarceron, Moby Dick, No Country for Old Men . . . etc.
*Just realized that none of these are actually classic spy/pursuit novels . . . strange. I need to read more classic spy lit.
**Ann Bishop could probably teach a course on world-building. Her landscapes/politics/atmosphere/history/culture richness is staggering.
***Scarlet isn't on the run because she's in a cage! Poor Scarlet.
****They erased her husband from existence. I would be cross too.