Ellen’s Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner


Ellen’s Review: The Maze Runner by James DashnerThe Maze Runner by James Dashner
Published by Random House Children's Books on 2009-10-06
Genres: Boys & Men, Friendship, Social Issues, Visionary & Metaphysical, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Goodreads
four-stars
Read the first book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent. The Maze Runner is now a major motion picture featuring the star of MTV's Teen Wolf, Dylan O’Brien; Kaya Scodelario; Aml Ameen; Will Poulter; and Thomas Brodie-Sangster and the second book, The Scorch Trials, is soon to be a movie, hitting theaters September 18, 2015! Also look for James Dashner’s newest novels, The Eye of Minds and The Rule of Thoughts, the first two books in the Mortality Doctrine series.   If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.   When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.   Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.   Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.   Everything is going to change.   Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.   Remember. Survive. Run. Praise for the Maze Runner series:

In simplest terms, a maze is a puzzle.  There might be obstacles along the way, but every maze has an entry point and an exit.  Imagine being sixteen and waking up in the center of monstrous man-made maze.  Not only do you have no idea where you are, but you also have no idea who you are.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner follows the life of Thomas, a teenager who finds himself trapped with other teenage boys in a maze.  Thomas learns that several of the oldest boys have lived within the maze for two years.  They made a home in the Glade, the center of the puzzle, and have built a society run by the laws of order.  Gladers, as they call themselves, work a variety of jobs to maintain this order.  The Runners run each day through the maze to search for an exit and map their findings; the Med-jacks provide medical care; the Cooks prepare food; the Slicers slaughter livestock; and others work in typical farming occupations.

The boys do not live in a normal maze.  Every day the structure changes; the walls move.  Thomas learns quickly after arriving about the Creators, the people who built the maze and observe the boys’ actions.  Gladers hate the Creators.  They provide supplies each week, but also unleash the deadly Grievers, a mechanical, weaponized creature that hunts and attacks Gladers.

After Thomas’s arrival, life as the Gladers know it begins to change.  No one remembers anything before the Glade, but several boys who survived hallucinogenic Griever attacks recognize Thomas.  The Glade also provides a strange sense of comfort and familiarity to Thomas, which was not a sensation the other boys felt upon arrival.  The day after Thomas arrives, the Glade receives its first female inhabitant who carries an unnerving message.  The Gladers soon find themselves forced to solve the puzzle or risk being killed by Grievers.

The Maze Runner reminded me of a cross between Ender’s Game and Lord of the Flies, both books that I also recommend.  I found it interesting how such an innocent game was turned into a fearful habitat.  This is not a new concept – the Triwizard Maze in Harry Potter is another example – but the main difference is that the characters have built a society within their nightmare.

The maze becomes a symbol for all the Gladers.  It represents life and death, identity, bravery, freedom, and manipulation.

  • Life and Death: Runners risk their lives each day to map a way out of the maze.  Gladers fear the maze, and their number one rule is never to enter the maze if you are not a Runner.  The worst punishment a Glader can receive is banishment.  When banished, you are forced to survive outside of the protective Glade walls against Grievers.  Banishment is a death sentence.  No one survives being trapped in the maze after dark.
  • Courage: Entering the maze is a choice.  The Glade, with its moving walls, protects the Gladers each night from Grievers.  When their daily routine changes, the Gladers must find it in themselves to face their fears and fight back.  The maze is fear, but it is also courage.  When Gladers enter the maze, they become a symbol of bravery and hope for each other.
  • Identity:  Solving the maze represents the simplest of questions: why.  Why were they sent there?  Why are they being watched?  Why can’t they remember their lives, parents, and childhood?  The maze has become their identity, and solving it is the only way they believe they can regain all of their memories.
  • Freedom and Manipulation: The maze is manipulated by the Creators, who can control and set new variables.  The Gladers know that they are not in control of their environment, and the maze is a constant reminder of this.  To battle manipulation, the maze becomes a sign of freedom.  If it can be solved, everyone can return to their families and live the lives of their own choosing.  Freedom of choice does not fully exist within the maze, but it represents the freedom beyond its walls.

The Maze Runner is a quick read and recommended for anyone interested in science fiction, dystopias, and puzzles.  I enjoyed the book and plan on reading the rest of the series.  My only complaint is that I believe the ending happened too quickly.  Dashner builds up to an exciting finish, but the events become so confusing and are left unexplained.  I hope that the second installment, The Scorch Trials, will answer my remaining questions.

Christina also reviewed “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner. See her review here.

Ellen

Christina’s Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner


Christina’s Review: The Maze Runner by James DashnerThe Maze Runner by James Dashner
Published by Random House Children's Books on 2009-10-06
Genres: Boys & Men, Friendship, Social Issues, Visionary & Metaphysical, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Read the first book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent. The Maze Runner is now a major motion picture featuring the star of MTV's Teen Wolf, Dylan O’Brien; Kaya Scodelario; Aml Ameen; Will Poulter; and Thomas Brodie-Sangster and the second book, The Scorch Trials, is soon to be a movie, hitting theaters September 18, 2015! Also look for James Dashner’s newest novels, The Eye of Minds and The Rule of Thoughts, the first two books in the Mortality Doctrine series.   If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.   When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.   Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.   Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.   Everything is going to change.   Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.   Remember. Survive. Run. Praise for the Maze Runner series:

The Maze Runner was our book club read for March. I was not too excited to read the book (not my genre) but I was shockingly surprised and so glad I read it because I LOVED it.

The author did a brilliant job keeping readers engaged from the start. Reading chapter one I was instantly hooked and my brain was working to piece together everything and try to figure out what was going on. It was a mysterious adventure, and I felt as though I was finding answers and making the discoveries with the characters.

The story follows a teenage boy, Thomas, who is brought up in the box to the Glade. The other boys in the Glade, like Thomas, have no memory of their past. They live in this home-environment they created and have assigned jobs and rules to make life run efficiently and keep order. Thomas sets his eyes on the “Runners” – a group of the fittest guys who are quick at decision making as they run the maze outside of the Glade every day searching for answers and a way out. There are some catches: the Maze changes every night; the door to the Glade shuts every day at the same time; and outside of these doors at night the Grievers come out… nobody outside of the great doors during the night have ever survived the Grievers. What is this place? Why are these boys all here? Why can they not remember their past? Are they in prison?

And then, everything changes…

Something about the book made me think of past reads and movies I have seen, including: The Shining, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and The Village. This book was a serious page-turner. My thoughts and questions aligned with Thomas’… there were so many mysteries, I could not wait to get the answers and solve them.

This book was a great science fiction read… typically, not my style with the mechanics and apocalyptic style. However, I very much enjoyed the book Lexicon, and this book reminded of the read and kept my attention. I highly recommend it, even for the reader not so into sci-fi. The author’s writing style and mysterious nature of everything kept me hooked. I give the book a 4.5 out of 5 stars (although closer to the 5 star side than 4). I cannot wait to read the second book of the series, hopefully soon.

Now, onto the movie… I was so into the book I finished it in less than two days. We went out to rent the movie and watched it immediately after. Boy oh boy was I disappointed after finishing such a great read. I had so many images in my head and could not wait to see how they would portray them in the movie. I did not mind at all how they portrayed the maze, the Glade, the Gladers, the Greavers, or even the actors… all that was fine. It was the details they left out or just totally changed. There were too many liberties taken and caused the story and whole mystery and suspense to change for me. I wish I could vent a little more on the details missing, but I am afraid that would ruin the book for others who have not read it. Feel free to email me: playingjokersblog@gmail.com to chat more.

Back to the book, again, I highly recommend it. I have a feeling it will be a great read for our book club with so many questions and probably different interpretations that developed. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

pj - christina

Michelle’s Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart


Michelle’s Review: We Were Liars by E. LockhartWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Published by Random House Children's Books on 2014-05-13
Genres: Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Family, General, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 240
Format: Audiobook
Goodreads
five-stars
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

I spoiled this book for myself before I had ever decided to read it.

In June everyone was raving about this book. It seemed like everyone was reading it, book bloggers, vloggers, and critics alike! I had heard about it through some online article about books to read this summer and had nominated it for my book club to read. I hadn’t actually expected to ever get around to reading it. I’m not exactly the fastest or the trendiest reader. So when it was selected as our book club’s August book, I was both happy and a little disappointed.

Because I had watched all the spoiler sections of people’s vlogs about this book. I had spoiled that big twist that everyone alluded to.

But here’s the thing: it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book at all. Perhaps I liked the book for different reasons than those who were in the dark; it was like rereading a thriller and being able to connect the dots that were previously invisible to you. But it was still so much fun. It was definitely one of my favorite reads so far this year.

  • Why was it so good?
  • It was artistic. There was poetry in its prose that was not overdone but instead helped to create a certain mood.
  • It was a thriller without being too heavy. It was the kind of book you would bring to the beach and end up forgetting to go into the water and still feel relaxed.
  • The setting was so real. It made me long to go to that island and have my own summer adventures (minus family drama, please!).
  • The narrator of the audiobook was absolutely amazing and a perfect fit for the book. I had listened to other books she has narrated before and liked her then too but she definitely did this book justice to the point where I feel like my experience of the book was greatened by listening to it instead of reading it.

This was the book that inspires so much discussion and analysis, with no one being truly right or wrong about it. And I think I’ll enjoy discussing it for some time to come.

pj - michelle

Christina’s Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart


Christina’s Review: We Were Liars by E. LockhartWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Published by Random House Children's Books on 2014-05-13
Genres: Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Family, General, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 240
Format: eBook
Goodreads
four-stars
A New York Times Bestseller.

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.


We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

I jumped ahead on August’s VA Wine and Book Club pick and read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I started it on a Thursday, and finished it the next day. It was a quick and easy read, and entertaining as well. Reading the book description, I was a little skeptical to begin, however, I found myself at the pool looking for a light read, and this book ended up being the perfect fit. (Actually, I may have spent a little too much time at the pool after getting drawn-in through the book)

We Were Liars followed the summers Cady Sinclair and her beautiful and wealthy family spent together on a private island. What family could be more perfect than the Sinclair’s? They emulated the pristine and got through things without showing the hardships or emotions. The “Liars” of the family included Cady, her two cousins, and friend Gat who spent the summers together each year. Their relationship with each other as family close in age was relatable for me with my cousins. They were friends whose story was conflicted by an accident that fogged Cady’s memory and was carried out in her story throughout the book. What happened during her fifteenth summer? What changed her beautiful, flawless life?

E. Lockhart did a seamless job with the story-line of her book. Her writing style was unique…wistful, metaphoric, and captivating. She covered so much detail and kept the book moving fast, however, she left so much to question and keep the reader thinking at the same time. The first few chapters took me some time to get into the story and adjust to her writing style, however, once I did I found the book irresistible and wanted to reach the end to learn who the liars were and what could have happened to Cady.

As other reviews have mentioned, it is difficult to go into details with this book without the risk of saying too much. Therefore, I will keep this review short and sweet. I recommend this book as a light read. It was the perfect pool-side escape, and should be an interesting book club discussion. When I reached the end, I felt my jaw hanging open with suspense, anticipation, confusion and excitement. This is definitely one of those books I will have to re-read again to further understand the significance of the events and details captured by the author.

Enjoy this read, and let yourself escape into the world of the Sinclair’s!

pj - christina