Only those young enough can survive the pulse-pounding rush of tetra, a dangerous and addictive new drug that fuels a nine-minute burst of superhuman strength and speed. Alana West has been trained to use the drug so she can pursue the young criminals who abuse its power—criminals like the breakneck who nearly killed her kid brother. On tetra, Alana is unstoppable. The rush makes her an explosive blur as she surges through New York City, battling to bring down breaknecks before they leave more people dead or injured in their wake. But with the clock ticking down to her eighteenth birthday, Alana will soon be too old for the rush...when just one more dose will prove deadly. Supported only by her strong and steady handler, Tucker, Alana goes undercover, infiltrating an elite gang of breaknecks to stop the supply of their drug. But when Alana gets trapped on the wrong side of the law, she learns the breaknecks are not quite what they seem—especially Ethan, the artistic boy whose bottomless brown eyes seem to see the truth inside her. With her own dependency on tetra increasing, Alana must decide where her loyalties lie before the rush ends. Forever.
Alana West is a Runner for the police. Which means she doses up on an experimental drug called Tetra and chases down Breakneaks - criminals who use the drug to escape crime scenes. Alana lives in the fast lane 24/7, and when she's on Tetra, the fast lane moves at the speed of light. But when her Tetra Runner unit is shut down by secretive government agents, Alana must go undercover with the Breaknecks to find out what's going on behind the scenes of the Tetra trade - and to get her next fix. While undercover she makes new friends and enemies and must toe the line between good and evil.
A fantastically written standalone, NIGHT SPEED is what YA sci-fi should be: full of adventure, action thrills, suspense, and really cool gadgets. Alana is a great protagonist, complex and with a lot of personality. The character development is spot-on, the dialogue is witty and realistic, and the relationships are very meaningful. Alana is a teenage girl who feels things very strongly, and struggles with her emotions in such a compelling way that the novel's romantic aspects are not bland or predictable. There are plot twists galore, and so many secrets that you'll be guessing until the very last chapter.
The Verdict: A highly recommended high-octane sci-fi action thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The main character, Alana, was someone I found easy to relate to with her determination to rid the streets of the thing that hurt her brother and her guilt that he’d been hurt while with her. I have siblings, I understood her. I also liked her competitiveness to be the best runner on the task force. The things I liked about her the most were the little things, things like wanting to make sure no civilians were injured while she was running on Tetra or not wanting her little brother looking up news about her arrests on the internet. She worried that she would end up like some of the past runners who’d been hit hard by the side effects and what the future would hold for her when she couldn’t take Tetra anymore.
I liked that the book didn’t shy away from the drug being addictive. The rush it gave its users, the feeling of being so alive, was so addicting and Alana wasn’t an exception. It was a struggle for her and it was hard to see her justify her need for the drug. Her good intentions to find the dealers to get the drug off the streets didn’t stop her from getting just as addicted to the rush as the criminals.
There was a lot of action and it was fast-paced action. The romance was light, mostly in the background, and stayed pretty undeveloped in terms of falling in love. It was more ‘I like you, we could be something, but there’s so much other stuff going on right now so let’s see where this attraction and kissing takes us’. It focused more on the action, the character development for Alana, and undercover mission to take down the main source of Tetra. There were only a few times when I felt like things were moving too fast to keep up and it meant re-reading a few pages to make sure I fully understood what was happening.
Overall, it was an exciting book and so much action was packed into this standalone.