Cover image for Rundown
Cadnum, Michael.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, [1999]

Physical Description:
168 pages ; 22 cm
As a game, sixteen-year-old Jennifer pretends that she has been attacked by a serial rapist, but then she finds herself getting more attention than she wanted, from the police and her parents.
Reading Level:
940 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.1 6.0 32274.

Reading Counts RC High School 7.1 10 Quiz: 21214 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Jennifer Thayer tells a shocking story. She reports a crime that never happened -- with herself as the victim. Her lie wins her the attention of her mother, father, and boyfriend, and growing public acclaim as a young woman who successfully fought off a serial rapist. But now the police have more questions. And even as detectives hunt down her alleged attacker, Jennifer learns that she is running from someone far more dangerous, someone she will never elude: herself.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 9^-12. Teenager Jennifer Thayer does a terrible thing: she reports an attempted rape, but only she knows that she's lying, that the crime was never committed. As Jennifer has planned, the police think (and the media hope) that the "assault" is the work of a serial rapist who has been attacking women in the area. And for a while, Jennifer is the center of attention. The spotlight, which has always been trained on her spoiled older sister, Cassandra, is now focused on her. But then Jennifer makes a mistake. Cadnum demonstrates his usual mastery of mood and characterization in this acutely observed portrait of a wealthy girl whose jealousy of her sister is the motivation for her desperate act. This is a novel about voices--about family silences and failures of communication, about what is said and what is too often left unsaid. Those expecting a fast-paced novel of suspense will be disappointed, however. Cadnum seems to be less interested in plot than in creating an atmosphere of foreboding and exploring subtle nuances of character. He's wonderfully successful at both, but reading Rundown is ultimately like watching a Hitchcock movie in slow motion. --Michael Cart

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Readers will likely be both fascinated and repelled by the intricate web of deception woven by the 16-year-old narrator of this psychological drama," said PW. Ages 14-up. (Jan.)n (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 10 Up-A book about a younger sibling who craves attention while her family is preoccupied with her older sister's wedding. Jennifer, a high school student, claims to have been assaulted while jogging near the U.C. Berkeley campus. Her accusation is credible because a rapist has been active in the area over the past several weeks, so she gets plenty of attention and concern from her parents, her peers, her former boyfriend, the police, the media, etc. And, it makes her feel rotten. At first, only her beautiful, brilliant, self-centered sister, Cassandra, suspects the fabrication. But as the days progress, the police probe deeper, the solicitousness of friends becomes its own kind of torture, and the veneer of perfection that surrounds Jennifer's family wears ever thinner. She is increasingly unable to cope with her deliberate deception and is aware that it hasn't helped her face the realities in her life: her jealousy of Cassandra, her distress over her father's possible extramarital affair, and the distancing she feels from her mother. She attempts suicide, has second thoughts, and finally reaches out to the police detective who has been investigating the alleged crime. Deft characterization and adroit descriptions of setting and motivation raise Cadnum's writing above the commonplace. Readers may not always like the people who populate this book, but they will believe they are real. From the first sentence: "One month before my sister's wedding I did a terrible thing," teens will want to know what comes next.-Miriam Lang Budin, Mt. Kisco Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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