Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Rat Runners

Rat Runners

Oisin McGann
For ages 12 and up
Random House UK, 2013   ISBN: 978-0552566209yo

Many of the teenagers living in London have simple lives. They go to school, spend time with their friends, and try not to get seen doing something that they shouldn’t be doing. These days it is no longer easy to keep ones secrets secret because the WatchWorld System is always watching you. Londoners have decided that they are willing to give up their privacy so that they can have less crime in their lives.  The WorldWatch System is always watching through cameras, satellites, and drones. The company has special personnel called Safe-Guards, men and women who wear an apparatus that allows them to see and sense almost everything about a person. If a Safe-Guard looks at you he or she can tell how much dental work you have done, if you are carrying a weapon, if you are sweating more than usual, and they can match your iris image with the WorldWatch database to find our who and what you are.

Some teenagers, including Nimmo, Scope, FX, and his big sister Manikin, choose to avoid being seen by WorldWatch’s many eyes. They use what are called rat runs to dodge the cameras and Safe-Guards. Many of these young people end up working for London’s crime bosses. One of the most powerful criminal leaders in London is a dangerous man called Move-Easy. Move-Easy finds ways to force young people to work for him by threatening, intimidating, and blackmailing them. He knows that WorldWatch is not allowed to watch children as closely as adults, so he uses young people to do a lot of his dirty work. Scope, FX, and Manikin are under his thumb, and even independent Nimmo is unable to stay completely detached from Move-Easy’s criminal empire.

One day Nimmo is quietly minding his own business when his landlord and sometimes employer, Watson Brundle, dies suddenly.  Brundle gave Nimmo a box to hold for him just before he died, and now Nimmo is convinced that Brundle was killed because of the box. Before Nimmo can further investigate his friend’s death, he is summoned by Move-Easy and is given the job of finding Brundle’s mysterious box. Nimmo does not tell Move-Easy that he has the box. Instead, he takes on the job and with Scope, FX, and Manikin, he sets about trying to find out all he can about Brundle.

The young people are not working on the case for long before it becomes clear that they have stumbled into a very dangerous situation. Someone is spying on Brundle’s teenage daughter using WorldWatch technology to find out if she has the box. Clearly Move-Easy is not the only one who wants Brundle’s box. Nimmo is finally forced to tell his team members that he has the box and that his true cause is to find out who killed Brundle and why. At first they are furious with him, but then they too decide that they are not going to let Move-Easy, and whoever else is involved in this affair, to direct their lives. They, four rat runners, are going to find out what is really going on, and they are going to try to put a stop to it. If they succeed maybe they will be able to come out from under Move-Easy’s thumb once and for all. If they fail, well, they won’t be alive to worry about it anymore.

In this captivating and beautifully written novel the author takes us into a world where the rules are very different from the ones that exist in our world. We meet some strong-willed young people who have to face terrible danger on a regular basis, but whose spirits are not broken. In their own unique ways, the young people find ways to fight back, and it is fascinating to see how they are able to work together despite their differences.


A word from the TTLG editor:

For readers who wish to purchase this book: Please visit Amazon UK to get the purchase listing for this title.