Running on Empty by R.M. Clark

Running on Empty by R.M. Clark
Publisher: Indigo Sea Press
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Full Length (151 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

After getting a video camera for her fourteenth birthday, Kasey Madrid enters film contest and chooses her town’s 300th anniversary celebration as a subject. All is well until the town’s time capsule is unearthed empty, prompting Kasey to investigate. Things get even stranger when she begins to see someone in her camera no one else can see. That “someone” turns out to be Marion Gibson, the town’s former historian, who went into a coma-like state when the time capsule was buried and whose memories are now trapped in time. Kasey researches the town historians and reveals their 300 year-old secret: a wooden chest that gives them the ability to see other people’s memories and visit the past. She also finds that Marion’s successor, the real town historian, is missing. Using her film footage, Kasey discovers the chest is passed on to each new historian every generation through time capsules. When the chest is stolen, Kasey and her camera go back to save Marion, find the identity of the next historian and solve the mystery of the empty time capsule.

Everyone has been waiting 30 years to find out what the previous generation wanted to share with them about life in the 1980s. Sadly, their wait isn’t over quite yet.

My favorite sections of this book were the ones that described who the town historians were and how they travelled through time. Marion’s strange illness made me wonder what happened to her and what she would have told Kasey about the time capsule if she were able to speak. It was also interesting to find out how new historians are chosen in this community. All of these details helped me to imagine what it would be like to live in Chepstow as I was reading.

I would have liked to see more clues about the mystery of what happened to the missing items in the time capsule. It look a while for Kasey to find the first one, and the rest of the clues lagged behind that one as well. This made the pacing of the story feel much slower than it actually was because of how long it took to find out anything about what was going on with the main part of the plot.

Kasey and Paula were such a great team. It was cool to see how well they worked together on this case. They were such good friends that they could often guess what the other one was thinking without having to speak their thoughts out loud. Not only did this show how just close they were to each other, it also made it easy for them to keep going when they reached points in the storyline where there wasn’t a lot of room for conversation.

Running on Empty is a good choice for anyone who is in the mood for a slow-burning mystery.

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