Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

  --> Disclaimer:  Since I initially posted this review, I have had a few people tell me that they started the series and were a little disappointed. While this series is dystopian (like The Hunger Games), it is different.  The main character is a boy and it is quite a bit more gruesome.  Romantic elements are also not as prevalent as some other dystopians that are currently on the market.  That being said, I think this is a very good series, but it may be more appealing to the male gender! :) 

James Dashner's The Maze Runner is the first in his post-apocalyptic trilogy. The main character, Thomas, wakes at the beginning of the novel to find that he has been transported to a world created by a group of scientists.  Those transported (all boys and one girl) have had their memories wiped and their only goals are to survive and escape. Within this world there are two main areas, the glade and the maze.  The glade is where they eat, sleep, and work and is protected by walls that close each night.  The maze is the test they have been given by the scientists and each day runners go out into the maze to try and figure out a way to escape. They regularly encounter Greivers, creatures that are a "horrific mix of animal and machine" and have instrument tipped appendages including saw blades, shears, and rods. As they attempt to survive and find a means of escape, Thomas and his friends contemplate possible reasons for why they have been sent to the glade in the first place. 

Since I read Suzanne Collin's, The Hunger Games, I have become a huge fan of dystopian literature. I am not sure what it is about these types of books that intrigue me so much, but I will say that I love how the authors attempt to paint a picture of what life could be like in the future.  The Maze Runner trilogy is a great dystopian series that attempts to show what life might be like post-apocalypse.   This first installment is basically a huge science experiment conducted using adolescents.  The reasons for this experiment are not fully explained in the first novel, but are expounded upon in the two additional books within the trilogy: The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure.   After reading The Maze Runner, it is almost impossible to not pick up the other two.  So, if you loved The Hunger Games trilogy and are looking for more good books to read, check out The Maze Runner trilogy. 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The story begins with sixteen-year-old Jacob enduring a terrible family tragedy. The tragedy then leads him to an island off the coast of Wales where he begins to explore Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. He quickly finds out there is more than meets the eye in the old crumbling house. He enters a world of magic and discovers a family legacy that his grandfather had been trying to prepare him for all his life. 

How do you summarize this book without giving it all away?  That's a tricky thing to do since it seems as though even the author had trouble with not giving it all away too soon. The book begins interestingly enough, but tends to become a little childish by the end. The word "silly" kept coming to mind while I was reading. There were just a few too many magical elements all jumbled together and not enough actual storyline to keep my attention. Then the story peaked about three quarters of the way through and I was ready to be done with it.

With that said, there were a few things that make this book worth taking a look at.  The concept of the book itself was enough to sell me on it.  Incorporating the creepy vintage photographs into the book was a really novel idea. If I'm not mistaken, I believe the photographs were gathered first and then the story was written around them. Sadly, the story doesn't do them justice.  Overall, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children felt like a good idea that just sort of fizzled out.

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

Logan Thighbolt was not a big believer in luck, until a photograph seemed to bring him all the luck in the world. While serving in Iraq Logan finds a photo of a beautiful woman. He then narrowly survives various close encounters with death. Convinced that the photo is the reason why, his friend encourages him to find the woman in the picture when he returns home.  When he finds her he realizes she may be more than just a lucky charm, she may be his chance at a new life.

I have to admit that I am not a Nicholas Sparks fan. I find all his books to be predictable and his characters often seem to be the same people with different names. However, sometimes that is exactly the type of book that you need. I recently had a baby and found that life with a newborn is unpredictable enough. I needed something in the form of mind candy, something I could put in my head and suck on without really having to sink my teeth into it. The Lucky One seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.  I enjoyed that the book was written from several different characters' perspectives.  The setting was one of my favorites. I am a sucker for anything that takes place during summer in the south.  While the plot was somewhat predictable I did find myself wondering a bit about how it would turn out, and I actually found the ending to be very satisfying.  If you're going to read Nicholas Sparks, or you're just looking for a light summer read, I would suggest The Lucky One. It doesn't hurt that they made it into a movie and Zac Efron plays Logan Thighbolt. Mind candy plus eye candy, if there was a wink button I would use it.