Dead Girl Running by Ann M. Noser

October 23rd, 2015 Kimberly Review 77 Comments

23rd Oct
Dead Girl Running by Ann M. Noser
Dead Girl Running
by Ann M. Noser
Series: The New Order
Genres: Dystopian
Source: Author
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Eight years ago, SILVIA WOOD's father died in an industrial accident. After suffering through years of Psychotherapy Services and Mandated Medications for depression and multiple suicide attempts, she longs to work in Botanical Sciences. When the Occupation Exam determines she must work in Mortuary Sciences instead, she wonders if the New Order assigned her to the morgue to push her over the edge. To appease her disappointed mother, Silvia enters the Race for Citizen Glory, in an attempt to stand out in the crowd of Equals. After she begins training with "golden boy" LIAM HARMAN, she discovers he also lost his father in the same accident that ruined her childhood. Then Silvia meets and falls for Liam's older cousin, whose paranoid intensity makes her question what really happened to her father. As the race nears, Silvia realizes that she's not only running for glory, she's running for her life.

cliffhanger YA ROMANCE dystopian SUSPENSE

Dead Girl Running is the first in a  young/new adult dystopian by author Ann M. Noser. In the New Order, society has rebuilt utopian cities where there are no homeless, everyone has a job and good health is rewarded or is it? Dead Girl Running drew me in and kept me engaged renewing my love of this genre.

Five reasons to pick up Dead Girl Running

  • Noser introduces us to the New Order, a world built out of the rubble of WWIII. Here citizens live within walled cites and are kept safe from the wilds. Each citizen receives free health care, food, and housing. Placement tests assign each citizen with a career/job assignments. They live in a stress free society where crime, war, and hunger have become a thing of the past. Of course with these provisions come a handful of restrictions, and concessions. Noser did an excellent job of fleshing out the world, and sharing life within the city. However, the more she revealed, the more we as the reader could begin to see the cracks.
  • We meet Silvia Wood who works in Mortuary Sciences. Her mother is disappointed as she hoped Silvia would follow in her father’s field of Botanical Sciences. Silvia has been classified as difficult, after a few failed suicide attempts following the accidental death of her father. I loved the morgue. I know what you are thinking, but I loved spending time in the morgue with Silvia and her boss and friend Gus. In a showing, not telling manner their conversations shed light on the world they live in, the past and more. Gus was cool, and allowed us to see the real Silvia.
  • The Race for Citizen Glory is a New Order sponsored event that allows citizens to compete in a race. The winner gets privileges for both themselves and their families. While the storyline sounds a little familiar Noser’s story felt fresh and original. To make her mother proud Silvia enters and begins training with Liam Harman. Liam is popular in the community and Silvia soon discovers his father was also killed in the same accident. As they train, Silvia meets Liam’s older cousin and it is his paranoia that makes Silvia begins to question. All of the characters were developed and I quickly became attached.
  • The romance is clean, sweet and triangle free. Noser shared first love, but kept the thread planted firmly on the side as we along with Silvia begin to question her father’s accident, the race and the New Order.
  • In Dead Girl Running Noser first shows us the world and then begins to share its flaws as we delve further into current events, deaths, the accident that killed Silvia’s Dad, and more. The story was well paced with twists, turns and reveals that kept me fully engaged. I will warn you though, that the tale escalates and ends with a cliffhanger. While it really was the perfect place to end this chapter, it will certainly leave readers eager for more.


Read Chapter One

My tenth birthday was the worst day of my life. Dad had to work late because his replacement didn’t show up on time. Mom and I waited for him to come home.
Eight years later, we’re still waiting.
Most kids would’ve requested a Vacation Pass for their eighteenth birthday, but not me. I’d rather forget the whole thing and help Gus prepare the chilled bodies in the hospital mortuary. I drag myself out of bed and pull on teal scrubs. I fumble for socks and shoes, and a ray of early sunlight glints off my dad’s picture hanging on the gray wall across the tiny room. Once again, his blue eyes capture mine as if he needs to tell me something important. On the floor, beneath the photo, sits a memory trunk full of how things used to be. But I won’t open it today. I just can’t.
Dishes clink in the kitchen. Mom calls out, “Hurry up, Silvia. I’ve got a surprise for you.” She sounds happy, but I can’t tell if it’s real.
Since Dad’s death, both of us have done a lot of pretending. So far this year, we’ve been able to avoid Psychotherapy Services and Mandated Medications, but sometimes I wonder if I was sent down to Mortuary Sciences to push me over the edge. Fortunately, I find autopsies intriguing, not depressing. And since I never got to see Dad’s body after the accident, caring for other people’s dead soothes the empty ache inside.
My boss, Gus, is an excellent teacher and the closest thing I have to a best friend. He always knows what to say to me and what not to say.
Too bad Mom doesn’t have a clue.
Mom glances up from her green tea as I enter the copper-colored, modular kitchen. “I planned a big surprise for your birthday.”
I tense. “What is it?”
Mom slides over a bowl of organic oatmeal topped with raspberries, normally my favorite. “I got us Park and Art passes today.”
“I’m not hungry.” I shake my head. “And Gus is expecting me.”
“No, he’s not. He knows all about it. I told him weeks ago.”
“Really?” I cross my arms, not sure if I believe her. “He must be good at keeping secrets. Gus didn’t even mention my birthday yesterday.”
Which proves he knows me better than Mom does.
She frowns. “At least eat the raspberries, even if you’re not hungry. I had to barter for them. And if it makes you feel better, we can pretend it isn’t your birthday. It’s just some other day instead.”
I want to protest more, but there’s a determined gleam in Mom’s brown eyesone that hasn’t been there for a long time. And I don’t want to be the one to snuff it out.
I half-heartedly take a few bites of breakfast, swallow my eight prescribed supplements, then return to my bedroom to change into jeans and a long-sleeved, green T-shirt. All my clothes are soft and plain, without decoration, made by hands like my father’s. Only Dad proved himself to be Gifted, so he didn’t make Basic Worker Level clothes for long. Instead, he got promoted to Government Level clothing productiona promotion which cost him his life.
“Hurry up!” Mom calls from the front door of our small apartment.
We clamber down six flights of whitewashed cement steps, the stairwell so brightly lit with safety lights that one almost needs sunglasses. Once we arrive on the main floor, we push out into the swarms of people flooding the streets. Dashing across the busy bike path and two empty car lanes, we reach the closest walkway heading toward the park.
Traffic is orderly today. No bikers stray across the wide, white painted lines separating their lanes from ours. Men and women wearing blue scrubs of various shades hurry toward the hospitals and medical facilities. Those in green coveralls rush toward the monorail station to speed off to one of the numerous Plant and Protein Production Facilities.
I glance back at a beautiful, dark-skinned woman, trying not to feel envious of her green uniform. Normally, I don’t mind my job. In fact, I feel more at home in Mortuary Sciences than anywhere else. But part of me still longs to spend all day surrounded by plants. Nothing can be done about it now. The Occupation Exam is over, and I’ve been placed where I’m most effective.
The streets are crowded this time of day. People whoosh past us on bikes as those on foot press constantly forward. Only the car lanes remain vacant. Flapping flags in the New Order colors of red, white, and blue crack overhead. I shiver a little in the cool morning breeze.
We march past rows of tall silver-gray buildingsoffices on the first two floors and apartments up above. We make good time until we hit the Citizen Family Planning and Reproductive Services Building. Traffic stalls. A tall man ahead of us shifts from side to side, waiting.
“What’s going on?” Mom cranes her neck and rises on her toes. “Can you see?”
Indistinct voices argue up ahead. Strangers murmur but avoid making eye contact. After a long pause, the people in front of us begin to shuffle past the building. A few cast furtive glances over their shoulders. Everyone’s in a hurry to get somewhere. Now I see who is causing the fuss—a red-haired girl, who looks to be about my age, shoves an orderly away. The crowd behind us pushes forward. Tears stream down the girl’s pale face. She backs away from the building and turns as if to run before doubling over. She cries out in pain and clutches her swollen belly, breathing hard.
In her moment of weakness, the Suits surround and restrain her.
“I won’t do it! I won’t do it!” the pregnant girl screams as they drag her away.
“Let’s get out of here.” Mom grabs my shoulder and steers me onwards.
“What won’t she do?” I refuse to move, staring as the bawling, red-haired girl disappears behind the Family Planning sliding glass doors.
“Hush, Silvia. And don’t gawk.”
“Tell me what’s going to happen to her,” I beg.
Mom’s eyes widen as the crowd spills around us.
An older woman grumbles, “Get out of the way. Get out of the way.”
Mom slips a slender arm around my shoulders and propels me ahead, whispering in my ear. “Don’t make a scene. Don’t ruin your birthday.”
I pull back. I’m not the one who ruined my birthday.
She pushes harder. “Silvia, it’s none of our business. She’s probably having a bad day. Pregnant women get very emotional. I certainly did when I carried you.”
Scowling at her non-reply, I step away, almost into the path of the first car we’ve seen all morning. A staccato of horn blasts chases me back into my proper lane of traffic. The long, black limo eases past as we hustle on our way. I peer into the dark-tinted windows but can’t see a thing.
“Come on!” Mom grabs my arm, and we melt into the crowd.
“I just want to know who’s in there.”
She shakes her head. “You’re always too curious for your own good. What difference does it make?”
“What’s wrong with being curious?”
She winces. “Your father used to say that.”
“Really?” My ears prickle. She never talks about him. “Tell me more. About Dad.”
She takes a shaky breath. “Not today, honey. Okay?” She pats my arm, a guarded smile on her face. “Try to be more careful, okay?”
We rush on in silence for the next three blocks until Mom pauses at Genetic Testing and Counseling.
“Why are we stopping?” I ask.
She averts her gaze. “You’re eighteen now. You have to get tested.”
“Today?” I can’t believe this. “I thought we were going to the park.”
“We are. But as a condition of both of us getting the day off, we need to stop in here first.” Her appeasing tone switches to don’t-mess-with-me-now. “Don’t give me that look. It won’t take long. I promise.”
“Fine. Let’s get this over with. It’s not like I’m afraid of blood or anything.”
The overhead bell jingles softly as we enter the cool waiting room. Bamboo flooring muffles our footsteps as we approach the counter of nurses checking in patients. The bright blue banner over their head reads: Genetic Testing: It’s the right thing to do. Be proactive and informed about your health!
We are next in line. I cross my arms and tap my foot. This better not take too long. I don’t want to waste any time we could spend at the park.
“Patient’s name, age, and heritage?” a middle-aged nurse asks, clipboard in hand.
Mom nudges me forward.
I clear my dry throat. “Silvia Wood… eighteen years old, exactly.” I turn so she can check the microchip embedded in my upper right arm, careful to keep my wrists covered with my long sleeves. “Half Japanese, half White European.”
“Well, happy birthday to you.” She smiles as she scans the microchip and records my Citizen Number. Her perfect teeth seem even whiter against her coffee-colored skin.
I tense, but her eyes are kind. She has no idea what this day means to me. “Thank you,” I manage to choke out.
She leads me down a hallway. “We can take the first room on the right. Mrs. Wood, you’re welcome to join us. We encourage family participation.”
Once we reach the room, she flicks on the occupancy light over the door. “Please take a seat. My name is Lucinda Mayer.” She smiles again. “It will only take a second to enter you into the computer, and then I’ll ask you a series of questions.”
“Okay.” I sit on a wooden bench, surrounded by walls the same green as a fig tree leaf.
“No need to be nervous, young lady. I’m very good at drawing blood. It will only sting for a second.”
“I’m not worried about that.” Still unnerved by the crying girl a few blocks back, I try to sound braver than I feel. “I work in Mortuary Sciences. Blood doesn’t bother me.”
“Then there’s nothing to be anxious about. Now let’s get started.”
Nurse Mayer fires off questions. Mom answers most of them before I can even open my mouth. I nod and grit my teeth, trying to hide my irritation.
Ever since my Occupation Exam, Mom keeps looking for opportunities for me to get ahead, to “stand out and shine” as she puts it. She is so disappointed I didn’t test “exceptional” like she and Dad did. Instead I’ve been labeled “empathetic.”
Empathetic? I’m not sure how they came up with that. I certainly don’t feel very kindly toward my interfering mother at the moment.
“Are you currently sexually active?” Nurse Mayer asks.
Mom clamps her mouth shut and turns to me.
Nurse Mayer continues. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you are, young lady. Just answer the question truthfully. It’s important.”
“No. I don’t even like boys.”
“Do you prefer girls? Because that alters which genetic tests we’ll run. But either answer is perfectly acceptable.”
“I know it is. But, no, I didn’t mean that. I don’t like anyone.” I flush and stammer. “I mean, they don’t like me. Most of my friends stopped talking to me when I started working in the Mortuary.”
Mom throws me a warning look which says: try not to look like a social pariah.
“Not that I’m complaining. I like my job.” I fake a smile to assure the nurse I’m perfectly Normal.
The nurse raises her eyebrows. “You like your job?”
“Yes. It’s interesting.” I glance at Mom for support. “Aren’t I supposed to like my job? Isn’t that what the Occupational Exam is for? To make sure everyone likes what they do?”
Mom cringes. “Please answer the questions, dear. Don’t make up so many of your own.”
Nurse Mayer chuckles. “My daughter is about your age. Just starting out, too.”
“What does she do?” I ask to be polite.
“She works in Food Growth and Management.”
“That’s part of Plant and Protein Production, isn’t it?” I swallow my jealousy. “Does she like it?”
“Of course.” The nurse types with lightning speed. “Okay, only one last series of questions regarding your general health.”
“I’m ready.”
“Have you ever used any tobacco products?”
Mom leans forward. “No, she hasn’t. I check her clothes for traces every day.”
“You do?” I don’t know if she’s telling the truth or covering for me the one time I came home from work reeking of burnt hair. “I haven’t used any of the Forbidden Drugs or Products. I wouldn’t want to. I’ve seen first-hand what their use can do to the body.”
Nurse Mayer glances at her computer screen. “Do you exercise the required thirty minutes a day?”
Mom interjects. “She insists on taking the stairs every time. She never lets me use the elevator, and our apartment is on the sixth floor.”
Poor Mom. She so wants other people to be impressed with me.
I clear my throat. “I’m a member of 37th Street Health and Productivity Gym. You can check my account. I’m there every day after work from four until at least six. Even longer on my days off.”
“Thank you. I’ll include that information with the report. Now there’s only one more question, but I’ll check your vitals first,” Nurse Mayer says.
“Why?” I ask.
Mom’s face reads: don’t ask why.
“Stress affects a person’s blood pressure,” the nurse explains. “Wouldn’t want to submit an artificially elevated reading.” She measures my height, weight, body fat with calipers, and blood pressure. “All your values are with normal ranges. Physically, you appear to be a very healthy young lady.”
“I run at least an hour a day at an eight-minute-per-mile pace,” I say and then cringe. Great. Now I’m the one trying to impress her.
“That’s very good.” Nurse Mayer laughs. “I could only do that if I was being chased.”
“Who would chase you?”
“Hopefully that fine-looking actor in the latest James Bond movie, but then I would let him catch me.” The nurse winks and sets aside the blood pressure monitor.
“I haven’t seen that movie.” Gus thinks I don’t watch enough movies for a young woman my age. Maybe he’s right.
“You should.” She turns back to me, but now her face is somber rather than joking. “Are you ready for the last question?”
I nod.
“Okay.” She takes my cold hands in her warm ones. “Now, Silvia, be honest. How many times have you attempted suicide since your father’s death?”


* I currently work as a VA for this author and received an ARC of Dead Girl Running. This did not influence my review and all opinions are my own.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

77 Responses to “Dead Girl Running by Ann M. Noser”

  1. Kayl

    It’s always interesting to read other’s reviews of books you review. You get to see it in a different light which is always good. Personally, Dead Girl Running is not my favorite novel. I disliked it because I felt like it had the same plot as a lot of dystopian novels.

    Great review!
    -Kayl @ Kayl’s Krazy Obsession

  2. Naomi

    Sounds like an interesting world, Kimberly! The world sounds kind of complex, but thrilling to be a part of. Of course you would like the morgue aspects!!

  3. Tressa

    Sounds like a great read and I love your new icons. Very fun! I’ve added it to my tbr. I’d sign up for the review tour except I don’t have space until late November/early December. Great review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      If you want to review, just email me It isn’t part of a tour. The Flat icons are from Parajunkee, and I use Nose Graze’s UBB plugin with it.

  4. Jamie

    I love everything that Curiosity Quills brings out so I will DEFINITELY be checking this one out! Thanks for putting it on my radar!

  5. Maureen Beatrice

    I really love dystopian stories but lately I’m seeing so many books in this genre that I tend to be a little careful to read them. I’m just afraid that reading to many of these books will make me lose interest in the genre. Silly perhaps, but it’s just like with vampire stories.. I love them.. But so many are a little the same and I just don’t read them as much as I used to. That being said.. I love the sound of this one and your review definitely made me want to grab a copy.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Nope…I get it I only read a few a year because I love them so much, and reach into the adult category and young adult when selecting

  6. Tracy Terry

    Intrigued by this and not just because it features a morgue though I do admit I have a somewhat morbid fascination with any books featuring this setting.

  7. Melanie Simmons

    This looks like a great dystopian. I loved your comment that the “romance was sweet and triangle free”. Isn’t it funny how we assume there will be a love triangle in YA books?

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Totally…I always feel the need to mention its free of them..but then I find folks who read all YA either love em or despise them with an unholy passion..hehe

  8. Ro

    Even though this is YA, the stress-free romance, suspense and your review sound like good reasons to give this a try. Hugs…Ro

  9. lisa thomson

    This sounds interesting! I haven’t read a young readers book for a while. This sounds like one I would enjoy. Have a great weekend! Happy reading 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I will mix in young adult fantasy, dystopia and science fiction. You are missing out..books like Red Rising, Extracted the Walled City..are all brilliant.

  10. Cyn

    Love the title! This sounds very intriguing. Mortuary science sounds very cool and like the CSI-esque of this! Will definitely have to keep my eye out for this!
    Awesome review, Kim!

  11. Sophia Rose

    Dystopian is a recent favorite genre of mine and mostly b/c of the world building and the ‘government cover up’ aspects that are like suspense or thriller. Definitely want to read this one. Nice review, Kimberly!

  12. Lily B

    Curiosity Quills has some really great books recently don’t they? glad you loved this one, the world building alone looks fun

  13. Braine Talk Supe

    Morgues creep me out, but if the experience is told in such a fascinating way (like how they do CSI), then I believe the eerie factor fades and it just becomes this curious “experience”.

  14. Lisa

    I always find the most interesting-sounding books here! I would never have thought to pick this one up myself, but you’ve definitely made me interested in it after that review. 🙂

  15. Melissa (Books and Things)

    Oh sounds on the edge of your seat kind of read. Love that. I’m curious about the morgue now as well. I’m also not as disenfranchised as others are about dystopians since I don’t read several of them in a row like a lot of people (I try not to do that with vamps too). Keeps it fresh but I’m still glad to know that this one renewed you love of the genre.

  16. Heidi

    The whole morgue angle sounds interesting. I didn’t realize this series was already this far out. Sounds like a good one! Happy weekend.

  17. Lark

    The excerpt and your review make the book sound interesting, and I love that there’s no triangle (huzzah!) but I’m so not in the mood for a cliffhanger right now. I’ll keep the series in mind for later, when there are more of them out.

  18. Grace MyBookSnack

    Very interesting premise. That’s good to know the world-building was excellent. I think it’s cool that the heroine works in Mortuary Sciences.

  19. Tyler H Jolley

    It’s refreshing to have a clean romance with out the expected love triangle. Thanks for the excerpt, Kim. I hope you have a great weekend!

  20. Trish

    YA Dystopia can all feel a bit the same when you’ve read a few of them so I love that you feel this one has original elements. I enjoyed the extract too, there is a nice flow to the writing.

  21. Ramona

    Very interesting indeed! The working with the dead angle, the triangle-free romance, the strong plot… Enough selling points for me 🙂 Have a great weekend, Kimba!

  22. kindlemom1

    I so want book two, like today! My review goes up next week. I had so much fun with this one.

    Have a lovely weekend Kim!

  23. Jenny

    I don’t love the cliffhanger aspect of this one Kim, but I do love the sound of this world and the fact that the romance is triangle-free! It always makes me laugh (in a sad kind of way) at how traumatized we all are by love triangles that the presence of one makes or breaks a book for us:) Thanks for putting this one on my radar!

  24. Red Iza

    That society looks too good to be true 😉 I think I would love the morgue too, it didn’t sound weird to me, lol !

  25. Nick

    I think I’m over the dystopia phase when it comes to YA. But I do love that the MC is passionate about mortuary science. That’s so different!
    Glad you enjoyed this one, Kim! And wohoo! No triangle!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I loved that she worked there and some of the technology was interesting Nick. I still enjoy a good dystopian with a little mystery to it.

  26. Bookworm Brandee

    I really like the sound of this, Kimberly. It does seem familiar but I don’t mind familiar when an author puts their own stamp on things and from what you said in your review, Noser does just that. My curiosity is certainly piqued. Thanks for sharing the first chapter as well. Great way to get me hooked. 😉

  27. Sarah

    Woohooo I love a main character that works with the dead! Does that make me weird? Probably so. lol! And seriously, YAY for no love triangle! Those are so dang annoying. I am going to have to read this very soon. 🙂

  28. Ann Noser

    Thanks so much for reading and reviewing Dead Girl Running. I’m glad you think Gus is cool, because he is such a darling. 🙂

  29. Silvia

    Ok, can I honestly pass when the heroine has my name? Plus, it really sounds like an intriguing read and I’m definitely adding it to my list! Thanks, Kimberly 🙂

  30. Mary Kirkland

    This is definitely a story line that I haven’t seen before and I like that. Sounds like an interesting premise for a story. Thanks for the review of this.