Easier to Run picks up the story of Lara Croft five years after the events depicted in the 2013 reboot of the video-game franchise Tomb Raider.
Written by South African author, Noelle Adams – who writes under the nom de plume Pfangirl – Easier to Run is an unofficial addition to the Tomb Raider reboot ‘universe’.
The word we use to describe stories such as these is ‘fan-fiction’, but as literary terms go, this is a fairly meaningless one.
My definition of ‘fan-fiction’ is a work that is a based on an author’s, or authors’, original(s) b based on the lives of real life persons.
If this is accurate, then we might call nearly all mythology from The Iliad to The Elder Edda or certain books of the Bible fan-fiction. Similarly, Dante’s Divine Comedy and Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient.
That is a diverse list, and a descriptive term that can cover so many works is not a very helpful one. Especially when, as in the case of fan-fiction, it can also be used as a put down.
So, what are we to do? I would prefer that the term fell into obsolescence and readers treated published and unpublished works as just that, categorising them according to what the story actually is – action, adventure, romance etc.
Let’s apply that to Easier to Run. It is an adventure-romance. Pfangirl’s Lara Croft is bisexual. As she battles her way through tombs she must also battle her feelings towards her best friend Sam(antha) who, after the implosion of their relationship, is now engaged to be married.
The first eighteen or so chapters of the story are mainly dedicated to Lara the lover. It is only around Chapter 18-20 that Lara the adventurer appears. This gave the story an uneven feel – as if Easier to Run was actually two separate stories that been stitched together.
The romance and adventure then continue side-by-side until the end of the story but I think if I was editing this book for publication I would ask for the adventure narrative to begin much earlier so as to give the whole a more integrated feel.
What of the characters? Is the lack of a fully integrated plot reflected in them? No, certainly not. Lara Croft is very well drawn. Her credentials as an adventurer are established at the beginning. Indeed, her desire to explore and learn are the reasons why her relationship with Sam ends and why the two remain apart even when they are together.
If Sam is a little less well drawn that is only because the story is Lara’s rather than hers. However, and this important, she felt real and that meant I could relate to and feel for her. One can’t ask for much more than that from an author.
Speaking of realness, the story opens up an intriguing subplot in terms of the villain’s, Jacqueline Natla’s, sexuality. She appears to be sexually attracted to Lara but this is not followed through.
As much is made in the story of Lara’s perception of herself as a ruthless killer it would have been a fine twist had Natla been able to manipulate that to her own sexual advantage.
But never mind – there were more than enough twists in the story to keep me happy. One or two I worked out but numerous others caught me quite off-guard. Whatever faults a story has, it is still a good writer who can catch his or her readers out.
And even when there are no twists it is also a good writer who can keep their reader turning the page and I must say that Pfangirl did this very well.
It was also very pleasing to see her make use of ‘classic’ and ‘reboot’ Lara motifs. This firmly grounded the story as a Tomb Raider story and not just an adventure yarn riding on Lara Croft’s coat tails.
All-in-all, Easier to Run was a very enjoyable story to read. Yes, it had flaws beyond those I’ve mentioned, but it also also had well written aspects other than those named here, too.
What the story showed is great potential both for itself and the author. Unfortunately, copyright laws mean that the former is unlikely to be fulfilled. But that’s alright, we still have Pfangirl and I am quite sure that if she continues to develop her writing skills she will do very well in this field. I look forward to reading her future works.