CYBILS REVIEW: Ultra by David Carroll


Quinn has been called a superhero and a freak of nature. At age 13, he's an amazing distance runner. He takes on the second-hardest challenge of his life when he enters his first ultra marathon: a grueling 100-mile, 24-hour-long race that will push him to the very limit of his endurance.

While Quinn struggles to go on — up a mountain and through the night, as his muscles break down and he begins to hallucinate — we learn why the ultra-marathon is only the second hardest thing he has endured in his young life. And maybe this devastating event from his past is exactly what Quinn has been running from . . .

Framed as an interview with a media commentator after Quinn's newsmaking finish, this remarkable debut novel from ultra-marathon runner David Carroll reminds us that when we dare to challenge what is possible, the word impossible loses its meaning.


I wasn't sure I was going to like this one at first because I'm not much of a runner and the whole book focuses on the running of a 100-mile ultra marathon.  But I ended up liking it quite a bit. Quinn is a likable protagonist with a lot going for him.  The idea of Quinn's physical quirks making him a 'superhero' I found quite appealing. The way the story gradually develops and the reader learns why Quinn entered the race and what led up to it keeps the story moving along at a nice clip and is sure to hold the interest of young readers. 

The interview segments give the reader hints of what is to come along in the story and also provide a little extra explanation of certain things that Quinn experiences, although this format may not appeal to all readers. I did find the parts where Quinn is hallucinating rather weird, which I guess is the point, hallucinations by their very nature are weird.  But interestingly, they also foreshadow a little bit the emotional struggles that Quinn has had over the last year.  Quinn's relationship with his best friend, Kneecap, was both funny and touching at the same time, yet full of ups and downs like any relationship.

While the writing wasn't as detailed as I would have liked, I think it works well for the reluctant reader who so easily gets bogged down in too much detail. A book I can easily recommend to young readers, who should be able to relate to Quinn regardless of their interest in running.


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