Runaway Max gives intriguing insight into the backstory of Max and Billy from Stranger Things, but the execution leaves a bit to be desired.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher: Random House BYR
Release Date: June 4th, 2019
Synopsis: Don’t miss this gripping, emotional prequel to the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things! The never-before-told backstory of the beloved Dig Dug maven, Max Mayfield, written by New York Times bestselling author Brenna Yovanoff.
This must-read novel, based on the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things, explores Max’s past–the good and the bad–as well as how she came to find her newfound sense of home in Hawkins, Indiana.
Runaway Max takes the events of Season 2 of Stranger Things and lets the reader revisit them through Max’s eyes, while also giving us the backstory of how she and Billy came to Hawkins, Indiana. While I loved the idea of seeing things through Max’s perspective, the execution was a bit muddled for my experience.
The problem was the timeline and the audiobook. There is a lot of back and forth in time during this story. We jump from Max’s past in California to her present in Hawkins. In the physical book, the jumps are clearly separated, giving you a sense of when Max telling you past situations. In the audiobook, this wasn’t clear at all. I often found myself confused as to where I was in the narrative which really hindered my enjoyment of the book.
Learning more about Max made me appreciate her even more. Watching her evolution from California to Hawkins is nothing short of heartbreaking. There are moments that hit so hard emotionally that I almost had to stop reading. Max’s relationship, or lack thereof, with her mother was particularly poignant. And while we see the abuse and unhappiness that is the backbone of why Billy is such an abuser, it was never presented in a way to absolve him.
Getting to see the events of Season 2 of Stranger Things through Max was a mixed bag. Considering most of those who read this book will have already seen the show, it’s basically just Max’s internal thought process through the events. I think the actress who played Max is a decent enough actor and she was able to convey those emotions well enough in the show. Which leads me to ask if we needed the play by play of Season 2’s events in this story.
Thinking about it, I would have preferred a straight up backstory book of Max and Billy that ended right as Max first meets the Stranger Things boys. But the book is done and written and honestly, it’s fine. As a quick read to rekindle my love of Stranger Things during the show’s hiatus, the book works.