Imagine if one day, in school, your house just happens to be on CNN. And FBI officers just happen to be raiding it, taking your parents away in handcuffs. Imagine if, before you know it, people all across the country are decrying them as the worst traitors imaginable.
That’s what happens to Aiden and Meg Falconer. Aiden (15) and Meg (11) have their world rocked upside down amidst charges that their parents, respected criminologists, helped aid and abet terrorists. Sure, their parents have an alibi that they were working for the CIA, under the guidance of agent Frank Lindenauer. The problem: Frank Lindenauer has disappeared, and the CIA say they never employed an agent by that name.
With their parents stuck in prison for life, Aiden and Meg are thrown on Sunnydale Farm, a prison farm that is run by the Department of Justice. One night a fire sets the place to burn, and Aiden and Meg realize that this is their opportunity to escape; and to prove their parents innocence. But how likely is it going to be, with the whole country, the FBI, and a bald assassin after them?
Book 1: Chasing the Falconers
Here we get the backstory, and the fire that engulfs Sunnydale. Aiden didn’t start it on purpose, but he didn’t exactly jump to stop it, either. He hurries and saves Meg, and they take off. They are forced to walk all night, and to steal clothes in order to remain inconspicuous. They travel a great deal, but the cops are after them and they are forced to team up with the manslaughterer, Miguel Reyes, in order to survive.
The Falconers in this book don’t really know what they’re going to do, but they figure that somehow they’re going to do what it takes to save their parents. We are introduced to Aiden as a cautious and practical, and Meg as brilliant and filled with unbelievable spunk, plus the gift of gab. We also meet J. Edgar Giraffe (their nickname for Emmanuel Harris, the massive FBI agent who put the Falconer parents away for life), and have a strange encounter with Hairless Joe, a man who is out to kill them.
Book 2: The Fugitive Factor
The series now starts to really pick up, Aiden and Meg trying to track down former associates of their Uncle Frank for leads. In this vein they head to Boston, where they attempt to meet with their Aunt Jane. She doesn’t prove helpful, but Aiden and Meg are able to enjoy themselves in a super luxury hotel thanks to their parents skymiles accounts that hadn’t been shut down.
Unfortunately, Meg gets captured, and Hairless Joe dresses up as a police officer to take her into custody. The book gets its title because they are now very well known as fugitives, making it dangerous for them to venture into public. Still, the Falconers prove resourceful and manage to not only solve a crime going on in their expensive hotel, but more importantly get information on the trail of Frank Lindenauer.
Book 3: Now You See Them, Now You Don’t
The third book has Aiden and Meg hot-footing it to LA on the basis of old driving tickets issued to their Uncle Frank. Unfortunately their skymiles accounts have been compromised, so the government is aware of their location and they are forced to hang out with a gang after Aiden saves the life of Bo, a gang leader. Although Meg grows close to the gang members, they are soon off put by the violence and killing that surrounds gang life. Still, Bo manages to come in for them and in a big way, and Aiden saves his life a second time.
In addition, Aiden and Meg learn more about Lindenauer, gaining access to an old locker of his that shows he may have been connected with the terrorist group HORUS. That may prove Lindenauer’s guilt, but that doesn’t mean their parents are out of the woods yet. Aiden and Meg also stumble into a vicious trap threat by Hairless Joe and narrowly escape with their lives.
Book 4: The Stowaway Solution
It proves to not be so easy, though, when they get caught stowing away and are forced to jump overboard during a massive storm. Aiden is badly hurt and captured, and it’s up to Meg to save him with none other than Emmanuel Hairless standing in her way. The next order of business is still to get to Denver unnoticed, where possible salvation for their family awaits.
Book 5: Public Enemies
This is the best book is the series. Aiden and Meg manage to steal a motorcycle and head unnoticed to Denver, where they are able to pick up some clues about HORUS. While resting in the library Meg is furious about the hatred the famous radio broadcaster Mr. Mouth is spewing at them, and dramatically calls him to set the record straight.
The FBI see them on a surveillance video and are heading over, but unfortunately Hairless Joe is already there, ready to kill them. This time he’s not giving up, and makes several brutal attempts on their life. Only the help of The Mouth and his millions of listeners can save the Falconers from certain capture. Aiden and Meg also learn the real identity of Frank Lindenauer…and Hairless Joe.
Book 6: Hunting the Hunter
Aiden and Meg now realize that the bald assassin after them is Frank Lindenauer, and the only way to exonerate their parents is to force a confession. They lie low out in a farm and try to draw Hairless Frank into a trap, but soon learn that it is not going to be so easy. Desperate, Aiden decides he’s going to sacrifice his own life to save their parents.
Meg is not going to allow that, so she goes to the FBI and turns herself in, arranging for them to show up at the suicide meeting between Aiden and the killer. It doesn’t look like Hairless Frank is going to wait, however, and a dramatic battle ensues with the fate of the Falconer family in the balance.
This series is pure gold. It is by far the best adventure series Korman has done, and is reminiscent of the style of the books he wrote when he was younger. In fact, he himself has on occasion said On the Run is what he’s the most proud of.
This six book series is packed with intense and crazy action that will keep you guessing, on the edge of your seat, and barely able to wait to learn what happens next. I’ve read all six books many times and they’re still just as good as the first time I read them.
Aiden and Meg are very identifiable characters, and I especially like Meg, an eleven year old girl with almost unbelievable tenacity and strength and yet who seems very real. Even Emmanuel Harris and other characters along the way feel both intriguing and quite real-life.
This series is an absolute must, period. It is one of the best kids book series ever written. There is also a second series of three books, Kidnapped, in which Meg is taken and held for ransom. It’s definitely not on the same level, but it’s a very good series nonetheless, and anyone who enjoyed On the Run will be excited to read it.