Friday, November 12, 2010
When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.
Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What's more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own.
Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by--and torn between--two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length...everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world...and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.
Option #3: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.
In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.
Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.
The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.
Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?
Monday, November 8, 2010
Repetitive Writing: Bad
I don't have particularly high standards when it comes to the writing of the books I read, but The Maze Runner seemed to be a 100 page story that the editors made Mr. Dashner turn into a 400 page book. To do so he added a paragraph stating his inability to recall his former life every page. Then he added a paragraph discussing Thomas' "unexplainable desire to be a runner" in every other page or so. Then numerous paragraphs dispersed throughout explaining how things seemed familiar but he couldn't tell anyone...again & again & again.
WE GET IT, DASHNER!! Fhs.
That being said, I liked the book & will be reading the second one. I'm interested to see where this goes and, with annoying Chuck out of the way and stud Minho still around, I'm thinking it can only get better.
Word replacements are fun and I've used many of them in my lifetime since I don't typically curse. But gosh dang, I may drop an s-bomb if the situation calls for it. Why an author would make up their own words for curse words, I don't know. Could be trying to pull a JK Rowling, that genius of writer, (who actually pulled it off), I don't know. But like I said, I did find it entertaining. Almost as entertaining as the laugh I got at the last chapter when "Minho farted three times in the last minute." I think this was a first for me. I've never read about a character farting before. I understand Dashner is writing about teenagers for teenagers, but I always believed that fictional characters, despite their age, are elevated people. Consequently we don't want to read about their stinky farts.
At the end of book James Dashner credits Krista Marino for "an editing job that defies description." Ha! If you ask me Krista Marino missed a thousand possible edits. They were all over the place from pacing to description to language to plot development, etc, etc. I couldn't really enjoy this book because of the terrible writing. Creative Writing 101, show, don't tell. It's quite possibly the most important thing about writing a good story. Don't shuckin' tell me about your characters, Dashner, show me. Suzanne Collins, another genius, has this down to a science.
Dashner could also take a lesson from Collins in pacing. This was my second biggest complaint. It seemed the story didn't even begin until the middle to end of the book. And often information was repeated which slowed the pace. Sometimes I wanted to pull my hair out and yell, "I know, Dashner, you've already explained that a million times, now get on with it." Since I listened to this book on audio CD the pacing and choppiness were even more distinct. Not to mention wordiness. Hello, you could have stated that long paragraph with one simple sentence (another wonderful Collins technique). The story didn't flow and there were point of view changes that bothered me, especially in the beginning of the book. It felt as if Dashner wrote the book over a long period of time picking up where he left off but having to familiarize himself with the story again. Thus, the pacing was slowed and the characters and plot never went anywhere.
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed listening to the book. I will most likely read the series. I still have to figure out what scientist Teresa is named after. That's been puzzling me. Great pick Sam! It's time for the discussion so I better go.
That being said, the idea is genius. It's worthy of a series and after I finish the other book I've got I'll be trying out round 2 (which is why I skipped that spoiler above). And now that Markie tells us it's success was due to HG?!!!!! Say no more.
There were times when the writing bugged me, but I'd just skip a few paragraphs and then it'd be all good. I enjoyed the characters, but wasn't completely attached to them. When Chuck died and Thomas cried like he lost his brother, I just thought, "They'd only known each other a week right?" I was sad, but no actual tear was shed.
I am hoping that since Gally turned out to be alive that maybe Chuck or Alby will show up along the way too. I loved the ending with the letter from WICKED.
I'll elaborate more during the dicush, but for now, I gotta go watch House with Dwight.
Book 2 Spoiler Alert!!!!
Book 2 was amazing for me too. I think I liked it more than the first book. The shanks hiding out in the desert were really creepy. Again plenty of Action and new questions to leave you wondering. I still can't figure out what is going on; how Thomas managed to get through the scorch alive, what the shank is going on with Teresa, and what WICKED is really after, but I have full faith that James Dashner will answer all my questions in the last book and leave me with a good ending (he better).
The second book - uh, have you people read the second book? Should I say anything about it or just give you a spoiler warning? Spoiler warning given.
I enjoyed the second book too. Some parts seemed to kind of drag on and on and on. That lightening was nasty business and I hated that it seemingly took for ev er. But darn it all if it isn't another book ending with another non-ending and now we have to wait how long for the third to come out? I'll read it.
Bottom line, I enjoyed it. Not the top of my list but an entertaining few days and then another entertaining few days when I read the second. Good that.
A little story about James Dashner...
One of my student employees was taking a writing class here at BYU taught by Brandon Sanderson (who is HUGE right now because of his being chosen by the widow of the late Robert Jordan to finish the epic "Wheel of Time" series; and having just released the second to the last book in that ginormous series, and is now making millions of dollars, but still teaching at BYU, 'cause that's just the way he rolls) and one of the guest speakers in his class was non other than James Dashner.
He told me that JD told the class that he had pitched his Maze Runner series for years with little to no interest - being turned down by one publisher after another. He had just about given up on hope when a little book called The Hunger Games became a huge sensation and suddenly publishers, who wouldn't give him the time of day before, were calling him up and flying him all over, wining & dining him, and making him all kinds of incredible offers. I thought you might be interested to hear that the Maze Runner owes its success to The Hunger Games.
Now, how did I like the book? I liked it. Can't say I loved it, but it was interesting and well developed. I think how I ultimately feel about it will entirely depend on the outcome of the final book - whether the author answers all the questions or will it be another "Lost" kinda series (all questions, no answers); and will there be any redemption in the end for all the suffering and loss - or will Thomas and Teresa be another permanently damaged pity couple. At my current spot (about 2/3 of the way through the second book) I am highly engrossed. I think it's getting better and better - more intense, more interesting... but it's also getting harder and harder to imagine how this can all possible end well.
I like the whole zombie angle the story has taken, but that also brings to mind another Zombie book we read that started out very interesting and promising and ended up ticking the heck out of me. But for now, I will keep hope alive, and pray those WICKED shuck faces get the klunk beat out of them; and that T&T can build a flare-free life together when it's all over. For now I think this was a great pick, and I can't wait to read the rest. Thanks Sammy!