Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Running out of Time
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on June 13, 2000
Jessie believes she is being raised in the 1840s, but the year is actually 1996. You see, Jessie lives in a tourist site made to look like a real village of 150 years ago. Her classmates have begun dropping out of her small, one-room classroom, and the medicines they are given don't seem to work. Jessie's mother finally tells her the truth about their community, and it's up to Jessie to escape from Clifton and seek help from the "real world." Although the plot is quite serious and suspenseful, I had to laugh at the scene where Jessie sees cars for the first time and thinks they move by witchcraft. My favorite part of this well written story is when she calls a press conference and reveals the "shocking secret" of Clifton. I haven't read many books with female protagonists, so it was neat to see a young girl making things happen - it's usually a boy.
Now imagine this: We're moving along, thinking it's the year 2000 when a terrible disease spreads through our city. Eventually we learn that the year is really 2150 and people have been paying money to watch our EVERY move since we were born. Get the idea? Read this book!
-- JFS
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on January 4, 2006
Jessie is a young girl who lives with her family in an 1840 village, Clifton, Indiana. She learns a shocking secret that sends her mind racing. Jessie, only thirteen-years-old, must save her village from the spreading disease diphtheria. As I read this book one mystery unfolded after another. Margaret Peterson Haddix kept me on my toes and begging for more. This book is stuffed full with adventure, mystery, hope, and destiny. I attempted to set Running out of Time down, but I longed to know Jessie's fate. This magnificent novel was very enjoyable to read. I couldn't wait to start the next chapter, and when the story ended I wished it hadn't. I had gotten so attached to the characters that I hoped that it would never end.
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I really enjoyed M. Night Shyamalan's film, "The Village", and later read that there was controversy over where the idea for the film had originated. It had been suggested that the premise of the film had been taken from this book. My curiosity having been piqued, I decided to check for myself. I was surprised that the book was one that had been written for the young adult market. Still, I did not let that deter me from buying the book, though it had been decades since I had been a young adult. I was pleased, however, to note that the book had been designated an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, so all was not lost.

The book is an easy and pleasant read with a very compelling storyline. It tells the story of thirteen year old Jessie Keyser, who all her life has believed that she lives in the nineteenth century frontier village of Clifton, Indiana. When diphtheria starts claiming the lives of the village children, her mother tells her that it is not really 1840, as Jessie has been led to believe, but 1996. It appears that the village in which Jessie has grown up is actually a historical preserve, which its inhabitants are forbidden to leave. Jessie, however, is entrusted with a very important mission. She is to leave the preserve and seek help for their village in the outside world, avoiding capture by those who would seek to silence her in order to maintain the status quo and the secret that they are harboring in Clifton.

This is a very imaginative debut novel with a strong storyline that will appeal to those who are fond of historical fiction or time travel tales. It is most definitely a plot driven, rather than character driven, story. While it is simply written so as to appeal to the young adult market and teens, the story is so compelling that adults will also enjoy it, as long as they keep in mind the targeted audience. As for its similarity to the film, "The Village", there can be little doubt as to why someone would suggest comparison between the two.
22 comments| 60 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I really enjoyed M. Night Shyamalan's film, "The Village", and later read that there was controversy over where the idea for the film had originated. It had been suggested that the premise of the film had been taken from this book. My curiosity having been peaked, I decided to check for myself. I was surprised that the book was one that had been written for the young adult market. Still, I did not let that deter me from buying the book, though it had been decades since I had been a young adult. I was pleased, however, to note that the book had been designated an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, so all was not lost.

The book is an easy and pleasant read with a very compelling storyline. It tells the story of thirteen year old Jessie Keyser, who all her life has believed that she lives in the nineteenth century frontier village of Clifton, Indiana. When diphtheria starts claiming the lives of the village children, her mother tells her that it is not really 1840, as Jessie has been led to believe, but 1996. It appears that the village in which Jessie has grown up is actually a historical preserve, which its inhabitants are forbidden to leave. Jessie, however, is entrusted with a very important mission. She is to leave the preserve and seek help for their village in the outside world, avoiding capture by those who would seek to silence her in order to maintain the status quo and the secret that they are harboring in Clifton.

This is a very imaginative debut novel with a strong storyline that will appeal to those who are fond of historical fiction or time travel tales. It is most definitely a plot driven, rather than character driven, story. While it is simply written so as to appeal to the young adult market and teens, the story is so compelling that adults will also enjoy it, as long as they keep in mind the targeted audience. As for its similarity to the film, "The Village", there can be little doubt as to why someone would suggest comparison between the two.
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on August 4, 2004
I first read this wonderful book years ago (for school), and I still own a copy. It is about the adventures of a young girl named Jessie, a citizen of an 1840 town called Clifton Village. Unbeknownst to her and the other children of the village, she is actually living in the modern day (at that time 1996) inside of a tourist site - sort of an ultra Colonial Williamsburg their parents volunteered to become a part of in the early 1980s. However, when Jessie's friends start dying of a terrible disease, her mother reveals the truth to her and sends her on a mission to escape the compound to bring back modern medicine. Banned from the site because it is "historically inaccurate," this medicine that works is the only thing that will save Jessie's friends. What the villagers don't know, however, is that there is an even more sinister reason the medicine is not allowed... read the book!
This is a wonderful book that really makes you think...unfortunately, because I read this book, I caught onto the plot of a certain movie that came out the other day pretty quickly...
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on November 6, 2001
I found this book very enjoyable. It is the story of 13-year-old Jessie Keyser, a spunky, likeable young girl living in the 1840s. When an outbreak of diphtheria strikes her small village, infecting mostly children, Jessie is confronted with a mind-boggling fact: her village, immersed in the 1840s, is nothing more than a tourist attraction, and in the world outside it is the year 1996. However, something has gone wrong, for those who run the village of Clifton will not acknowledge the diphtheria outbreak and will not send medical help. Jessie must secretly escape from the village and get help not only for her infected friends, but her dangerously ill little sister as well. She soon finds herself in pants, in the city, and in serious trouble.
I found the idea of this book very interesting, and I think Margaret Haddix did an excellent job working with it. It's no Moby Dick, but it is well written and very appealing. I read the whole thing in one night, despite the fact that I well above the recommended reading level. I found the main character to be engaging and believable. What she does during the course of the story is what is what I wish I would do in the same situation, for she is heroic and amazingly gutsy, but without seeming like some unrealistic superwoman. She is just a normal, scared young girl who is just trying to do the best she can.
One of the best things about this book, in my opinion, was being able to see our incredible and sometimes frightening modern world through the eyes of someone from 1840. We rarely marvel at the miracle of electric lights or at being able to go fifty-five miles per hour in a car, but through Jessie's eyes we are able to realize just how much we take for granted and how lucky we really are. After all, fifty-five miles per hour is pretty dang amazing, but most people could really care less. I think it is important, with all our modern miracles, to take a step back every now and then to realize that they really are miracles. This book really helped me to do that.
This story shows not only what our society has gained, but it also shows what it has lost as well. During one part of the book, Jessie actually takes a tour of Clifton with a group of middle-school kids. Her village, where the children are respectful and the adults are capable and hard working, contrasts sharply with the apathetic, inattentive group of teenagers in her tour group, and the adults leading the group obviously wouldn't know how to shoe a horse or make cheese if their lives depended on it. What was interesting to me was the thought that our civilization to the point that we are no longer required to work so hard for day to day things, but at the same time, we are not as able to take care of ourselves in the same way those in the 1840s would have been. Also, in becoming more civilized, we seem to have become a great deal less civil. I realize that commentaries on society are hardly part of a normal book review, but then, I believe a good book should make you think after you are done reading it, and this book does that.
I think the greatest strength of this book is the fact that it was able to hold my interest and attention so well, even though it was not written for my age group. Yet it was evident to me while reading it that it would do just as good a job at holding the interest and attention of a ten or eleven year old. I would recommend this book freely to those my own age as well as to those who are younger than myself. This book is fun, exciting, and very interesting.
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on September 24, 2006
I have been reading this to my students for the past six years and every year they beg me to read more. I truly love Margaret Peterson Haddix's wonderful writing. She has a way of captivating her audience and leaves the reader wanting more at the end of every chapter. I love to start the year with this book because it makes my students realize how much fun reading really is. If I can get their attention and have them begging for more, they can find books equally exciting. Thanks to Haddix for pulling her readers in and giving me an excellent book to start my year. I would love to see a movie that is G or PG made from this book. I'm not interested in seeing The Village. This book is not meant to frighten children, but to keep them in suspense. Read this book. You won't regret it.
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on April 8, 2001
Review by Savannah, age 8. I recently read Running Out Of Time. After I read it I thought I would never read another book besides that one again. But of course I did. I think this book is wonderful because it is exciting, suspenseful and interesting. I felt like I was with Jessie, or even her. It also has a great plot, which starts it off well. This is the plot: Jessie Keyser lives with her family in a town named Clifton in 1849- she thinks, until her mother tells her the truth. They live in a reconstructed town made to look old fashioned. And it is really 1996, and the town they live in is a tourist sight! Jessie's mother shared this surprising secret because the children in their town are getting a deadly disease and Jessie is expected to go out into the real world and bring back help and medicine. With a mix of finding out a man is planning a murder, and a child calling a press conference, this book is definitely one of the best books in the world. I give this book 5 stars and it sure deserves it! P.S. Warning! This is a Scary book! But it is so good! If you do not read it you are missing out.
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on October 17, 2001
I and my daughter both enjoyed this book. It's hard to find good science fiction for teens - this is one of the best I've read.
Thirteen year old Jessie lives in 1840 - she thinks. When diphtheria strikes her small village, her mom tells her the truth : it's really 1996 in the rest of the world, and their village is part of an experiment. Jessie must go for help, into the confusing and frightening modern world.
This book is well written, with a fast paced story that should grab the readers attention quickly and hold it. The one criticism - where's the sequel???
I strongly recommend this book.
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on April 12, 2016
My daughter's 4th grade class was reading this novel, and I was so intrigued by the premise that I bought it for my Kindle so I could read it with her. And oh my, what a waste of money it turned out to be.

The writing was so amateurish I could barely stand it. The time spent describing every little detail and every word of a conversation could put you into a coma, while so many other aspects of the story were skipped entirely.

And the worst is how it ended. There are pages and pages and pages each for describing Jessie walking out of Clifton, climbing out of a window, etc, but when she saves the day, we hardly receive any plausible explanation for the Diphtheria experiment. It's sort of glossed over. And the reunion with her parents, along with the aftermath, barely rate more than a footnote. What the heck?!

My 10 year-old was equally disappointed. And now her class has started The Missing series. We both sincerely hope it's an improvement, though what I've seen of the writing so far indicates her writing didn't improve much in the years between.
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