Monday, September 29, 2014

[Review] The Maze Runner by James Dashner

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Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 22/10/2013
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 370
Source: Publisher for review
Genre: YA (14+) - Dystopian

Violence | Sexual ContentProfanity
My Rating: 

Intense

My thoughts

Thank you so, so, so much Alesha @ Scholastic for sending me a review copy! I have been so excited to watch the movie (huge dystopian fan!), only that I hadn't yet read the book. (And I make it a general rule to read the book before the movie.) I went into this book feeling a bit hesitant and anxious to pick up and read other books that I NEEDED-TO-READ-RIGHT-NOW, but since this book was for review and kind of urgent (as I wanted to read it before watching the movie) I pushed forward. By about 50 pages in I was hooked. Dashner throws you into this freaky world where teenage boys have had to build a society in a place surrounded by the Maze. And he kept unleashing mystery after mystery, bringing about such an intense and fast-paced read that I couldn't stay away for long--for the past few days if I wasn't at work or busy socialising, my nose was stuck in this book.

The Maze Runner follows a teenage boy called Thomas, who doesn't know anything other than his name, who wakes up in a lift (known as the Box) that opens up and reveals to him the Glade, a society run by and operated by other teenage boys called Gladers. They are surrounded by the Maze, which is mapped and navigated by the Runners to try and find escape. They must return at sunset before the Door closes, otherwise they will get stung by deadly creatures called the Grivers. Quickly he learns that he may not be like all the others; shortly after his arrival, another Glader arrives—a girl. Never before have they had two new Greenies (newbies) in a month, much less a girl. "Everything is going to change." Thomas finds that this place is actually FAMILIAR, that maybe he's been here before. One thing that he knows above anything else is this: he MUST become a Runner.


This book was just so interesting. The Maze Runner is an exceptional first book in a series. I was so intrigued by everything that was happening within the society and became really invested in some of the characters and how they interacted with one another. In particular I really liked Minho, Newt (to an extent) and Chuck (but more for what he represents to Thomas). As with most dystopian YA fiction, I found the character development to be lacking but I feel like that can be excused. These people have NO memory of their past, and the ones who do—the ones who have gone through the Changing—are haunted by it. So I’ll just expect more in the next books where character development in concerned.


As for the main character, Thomas… I suppose my opinions about him are neutral. I thought he was a great protagonist and at times I felt like he was sort of a Harry Potter, famous (or infamous) for things that are out of his control and that which he cannot understand. He’s compassionate and shows real human emotions, loyal and courageous and modest and quite a relatable character. I think the characteristic that stuck with me most was that he just wanted to get out, no matter what was waiting for them outside, because nothing could be worse than the Glade and the Grievers and the Maze. He just wouldn’t give up.


The bond that he forms with Chuck was so bittersweet. I felt like Chuck himself was a boring character, however. What he represents, though, resonates deeply within me. Thomas promises Chuck that he will get him home to his parents. Chuck becomes a beacon of hope for Thomas; through everything Chuck doesn’t ever lose hope that the outside world will become paradise for the two of them and that they will find their loving, nurturing parents that they were taken away from. There are times when Thomas doesn’t believe that kind of world exists, but Chuck doesn’t give up hope and for that I loved him.


The girl Glader... I feel kind of neutral about her, but I think my opinion of her will become stronger and change when I continue the series. The interactions between her and Thomas were nice. I’m glad that their past is still left kind of vague and there are still mysteries to be solved in the next book. I really want to know how they can talk to each other like that and I just hope that Dashner does explain it somehow, eventually. I don’t think it’s something I can just accept and move on with!


The writing was decent. The vocabulary is relatively simple and suitable for younger audiences. Swear words are replaced by Glader slang. The world building and description was also pretty good. It wasn’t lush and in abundance but I was still able to imagine this world with ease; it was made very obvious in the writing that this world was unlike our own.


Above all, I’m extremely pumped to watch the movie now (though I’ve heard the book is better!). I will definitely be continuing the series in the future. I am so curious to learn more about this twisted world that Dashner has created. If you’re a fan of dystopia, I recommend you to read The Maze Runner. It is in no way perfect but it was an incredibly intense, entertaining and engrossing read!


Quotes

First line: He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.


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INTERNATIONAL: Book Depository




I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.




Top Ten Tuesday (9): Ten Books I Almost Put Down But Didn't


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. I, however, will just pick and choose which ones I want to answer because I play by my own rules. #rebel


Top Ten Book Covers I Almost Put Down But Didn't

  1. Game On (#1) by Monica Seles
  2. Falling Kingdoms (#1) by Morgan Rhodes
  3. Cinnamon Rain by Emma Cameron
  4. Born Wicked (#1) by Jessica Spotswood
  5. Emerald by Karen Wallace
  6. Dreams of Significant Girls by Cristina Garcia
  7. Wood Angel by Erin Bow *
  8. Small Blue Thing by S.C. Ransom
  9. Matched (#1) by Ally Condie
  10. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
* I am extremely, extremely glad that I didn't put this book down because I would have missed out on one of my absolute favourite books ever! <3 It's a bit slow in the beginning, but it picks up and it's just beautiful.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

[Review] Reality Boy by A.S. King


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Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 22/10/2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 353
Source: Bought
Genre: YA (14+) - Contemporary

Violence | Sexual ContentProfanity
My Rating: 


My thoughts

I am writing this review 1.5 months after I've finished it. Yep, it's another of those kinds of books, I kind of have no idea what I thought of it. But let me start off by saying that I love A.S. King. She's an extraordinary YA writer who deserves every single bit of recognition and acclaim she has received so far. If this weren't written by a beloved author that I trust and adore I probably would never have given this book a second look, it just didn't sound like my kind of read. And it wasn't, but that doesn't mean I didn't like the book - it's just my least favourite of hers so far.

Seventeen-year-old Gerald Faust's very abnormal childhood follows him -- growing up is hard enough, but when you're "The Crapper" it's near impossible. So Gerald has anger issues. His family is in shambles, the kids from school won't leave him alone... his only solace is Register #1 girl. But when they get close, Gerald learns that she's got problems of her own. And what about the future?


Reality Boy is a very real portrayal of the negative impact of reality TV shows. King makes a very bold statement and addresses this issue in a thought-provoking way that readers can understand and relate to. You don't really consider how it affects the people that appear in reality TV show afterwards. They are trivialised and made into icons without being considered as people with real lives and personalities and thoughts and feelings.

I think that there is a little bit of Gerald in each and every one of us. Who hasn't ever felt rejected? Or felt not good? Who hasn't ever felt out of control or judged for something that we have/had no control over? Who has ever wanted a fresh start or an escape from it all? Gerald is such a sympathetic character. It's important that this story was told from his perspective. Every character in the book had their own view of him: the Crapper, the difficult child, the loser brother. So it's important that he gets to tell us about his life and where he's coming from and why he's gotten to this point in his life. King weaves us in and out of the Network Nanny (the reality TV show) episodes to consolidate just how bad it was for him.


I liked Register #1 Girl. I like that she's made out to be a perfect girl with a perfect life as beautiful as she is: a beacon of hope, in Gerald's eyes, but once you get to know her more you see the real girl behind the mask and find that she's just as broken and messed up as Gerald is. Their story is just awesome. It actually reminds me of Silver Linings Playbook. I really liked the development of their relationship. It was very sweet. :) The variations in their interactions with one another was very interesting to follow. I thought they had good chemistry. I like that their faults come between them, and that they try to work through them. There's also something kind of poignant about their romance, though I can't really explain it.


In Reality Boy, Gerald creates this "happy place" for himself that he likes to call "Gersday". So when things got really bad he would imagine the world he would like to live in, where his horrible sister would move out and never come back again, where the bullies at school would get what's coming to them, and so on. I liked the development of Gersday, how the appearance and changes to his Gersday reflected his current state of mind.

I love the exploration of his family - learning of them sheds light on why Gerald is how he is now. We're meant to despise Tasha, his overly sex-crazed eldest sister, and I did. I still don't understand her, I guess we're not meant to. Why did she have to be so horrible? Was she as much of a victim of Network Nanny as Gerald was?


So while Reality Boy isn't my favourite of A.S. King's writing it doesn't mean I didn't like it. I just don't exactly fit into the "right" audience on this one, but I was still able to appreciate what she did with the story and how she developed her characters. The negative impact of reality TV is brought to life in this book in an entertaining, relatable and sensitive manner, and the writing is up to stratch.

Quotes

First line: I'm the kid you saw on TV.

Favourite quotes:

"I've eaten enough shit sandwiches, thank you. (213)


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AUSTRALIA: Booktopia | The Nile

INTERNATIONAL: Book Depository




I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.



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