Review: BORN TO RUN by John M Green

In a post-President Obama (actually post President Biden!) world Isabel Diaz looks set to be the next US President. She has worked her way out of poverty in a way that speaks to the people, she’s smart and she’s a Republican. But just when it looks like she can’t lose things start to go awry with her campaign. Did she really employ a Muslim terrorist? Is she perhaps ineligible for the top job after all? Are their shadowy figures working for her, or against her?

The notion that anyone, even a woman who started out life as the dirt poor daughter of an immigrant single mother, can become President of America has driven many a story over the years but it loses none of its power through repetition. Isabel Diaz is well drawn as a character; her troubled background being believable as is her transition to the wealthy woman she must, realistically, be to even consider running for the top job in this day and age. In a post script to the novel the author explains why he created Isabel as a Republican I found this particularly fascinating as I have been listening to the Republican Primary debates online of late (yes I am that obsessed with American politics) and reflecting on the sad lack of an inspirational candidate. Her advisers, unseen but proactive supporters and political foes are, collectively, believable too; all appearing somewhere on the spectrum that starts with genuinely good guy (or gal) and ends just shy of Hitler. The various machinations and betrayals that take place all ring true as they play to the community’s baser fears and prejudices in the sad way that politics seems to do these days.

This is a real old-fashioned romp of a book with a great build-up of suspense and a slew of unexpected twists. The convoluted thread that sees Isabel pit her wits against nature towards the end of the book feels a bit too contrived; a fact probably more noticeable because the rest of the book’s plot developments feel much more natural. However this is a minor gripe in an otherwise solidly entertaining and intelligent political thriller.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars (rating scale is explained here)
Publisher: Panterra Press [2011]
ISBN: 9780980741889
Length: 387 pages
Format: Trade Paperback
Source: provided by the publisher for review