Eve Kenin (aka Eve Silver) went on my auto-buy list the second I finished Driven. This book packs a wallop, no doubt about it. The action never stops, but the characters are compelling and unforgettable. Finishing the book was difficult because I didn’t want to leave them or their adventures behind.
In post-Apocalyptic Earth, one of the few jobs left is truck driving. However, the North is a frozen wasteland filled with Reavers (pirates), and the only road is owned by Janson Trucking, with the backing of a psychotic businessman, Duncan Bane. Oh, the politicians spout that the Intercontinental Worldwide (the longest highway ever built) is free for everyone, but Raina Bowen knows that for an absolutely ridiculous lie. Raina’s father, Sam, raised her on the road, but since his untimely death, Raina has no one. However, Sam managed to tell Raina she had a sister–Beth–before he died, and Raina bets on the ultimate gamble to insure Beth’s safety: an over-the-road truck race with the winner receiving millions of interdollars, enough money to keep Beth in the safety of her school for years to come. Her father helped her broker a deal for a trucking pass to allow her to break through the Janson line, which would give her a leg up on winning. A mystery man called Wizard is supposed to deliver the precious pass to her.
However, Wizard doesn’t deliver the pass without incident, and Raina must save him from the Janson truckers herself. Raina believes Wizard is crazy trying to take on the Jansons, and Wizard isn’t prepared for Raina either, since he was expecting to meet Sam instead. From the moment Raina whisks Wizard off to her rig, sparks fly between them.
Both of these characters are hard-edged, kick-ass fighters. They both suffer serious emotional scars from their childhoods, and I use the term “childhood” loosely. Under those hard shells though, are warm and caring people who are terrified to let their guard down for one second. Watching them figure out what it means to love each other is heart wrenching. Their relationship is also set against the backdrop of an intense and explosive situation that involves far more than a simple race. Duncan Bane is completely psychotic, and qualifies as one of the nastiest villains I’ve ever run across. Wizard and Raina are up against a merciless killer who enjoys torturing people for fun.
Wizard is one of my all time favorite heroes. He holds his emotions at bay for excellent reasons, considering his history and future plans, which makes it all the more amazing that the author is able to convey his passion and struggles so descriptively. Raina also holds her emotions in, and wants to believe nothing can touch her, but she has cracks in her emotional armor as well.
The poignancy of Wizard and Raina’s relationship is absolutely astounding considering how much is packed into this book. I’ve barely touched on the plotline here, and there are some amazing and interesting secondary characters that I would like to see again. My only quibble with the book is that there was a tiny plot line left unresolved, but I have hope that there will be a sequel which will answer my lingering questions. Ms. Kenin has created an incredible world and Driven is one of the most entertaining books I’ve read all year.