Book 5 & 6: The Maze Runner & The Scorch Trials – James Dashner

Before I start reviewing these 2 books by James Dashner, please beware that if you finish reading my review about The Maze Runner, and continue on to The Scorch Trials, you might see some spoilers lurking around. I’ll try to avoid them, but it’s probably not possible….SO BEWARE!

Summary The Maze Runner:

Imagine waking up one day in total darkness, unsure of where you are and unable to remember anything about yourself except your first name. You’re in a bizarre place devoid of adults called the Glade. The Glade is an enclosed structure with a jail, a graveyard, a slaughterhouse, living quarters, and gardens. And no way out. Outside the Glade is the Maze, and every day some of the kids — the Runners — venture into the labyrinth, trying to map the ever-changing pattern of walls in an attempt to find an exit from this hellish place. So far, no one has figured it out. And not all of the Runners return from their daily exertions, victims of the maniacal Grievers, part animal, part mechanical killing machines.

Thomas is the newest arrival to the Glade in this Truman-meets-Lord of the Flies tale. A motley crew of half a dozen kids is all he has to guide him in this strange world. As soon as he arrives, unusual things begin to happen, and the others grow suspicious of him. Though the Maze seems somehow familiar to Thomas, he’s unable to make sense of the place, despite his extraordinary abilities as a Runner. What is this place, and does Thomas hold the key to finding a way out? (source: Goodreads.com)

Personal Opinion:

Yep, it was time for another dystopian novel. For the record, I LOVE dystopian novels…(like you didn’t know that yet lol). This is the second book I bought and read on my Kindle. What an amazing experience! I love using the Kindle, because I can take it with me easily and it’s a GREAT way of being able to read in bed without going through the difficulties of figuring out how to hold the book, find a comfortable position and not get cold in the process. Did I mention yet that I LOVE my Kindle? 😉

On to the book…the suspence was killing me, including the sense of mystery that is all around and the lack of information that keeps you wondering what the heck is going on. You get thrown into this world and only see it through Thomas’ eyes, which means you do not know anything when you start out and the amnesia thing was killing me. Also, the weird things that keep happening are adding to a high stress level and anxiety -to read on and on and on until your eyes just can’t take it anymore- kind of trance. Yep, I was sucked into this story immediatly. The ending, wow…when you think you’re safe, THINK AGAIN! That’s all I’m gonna say about it…Obviously the big cliffhanger was needed to spark an interest in the next book…and it worked, because within 2 seconds after finishing The Maze Runner, I already downloaded The Scorch Trials on my Kindle…lol

Summary The Scorch Trials:

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? (source: Goodreads.com

Personal Opinion:

So, things are picked up right where they left off in The Maze Runner. All hell is breaking loose and the writer makes sure you get that in the first few pages/chapters of the book. Shock after shock is coming right at ya my dear readers! And yeah, things do get a little bloody…The plot twists do not get boring though…and I think the whole ‘can I trust you or can I not trust you’ issue with Teresa and Brenda is very well done. I also liked the way Thomas’ feelings and emotions are going all over the place because things keep getting weirder by the minute. It must be so hard to live in a constant fear of being attacked, knowing you have a mission, but not having the slightest idea how to accomplish it without dying in the process. And yet again, a cliffhanger…but this time, it made me go crazy! Because the third book will not be released until October…WHAT ON EARTH should I do now??? It’s like The Hunger Games all over again…I HATED the long wait for Mockingjay….By the way, if you liked The Hunger Games, I’m about 99% sure you’ll like these books as well!

Book 4: The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

It seems like I’m already way behind on my bookchallenge, but….that’s not really true this time around. I’m more behind on writing blogs about the books I’ve read, lol. But as I’m sitting at home being sick with nothing else to do, here’s another review, done a bit differently. I read this book for my online bookclub and it was so cute! I decided to post the answers to a few of our discussion questions instead of doing a regular review. Hope you like it anyway 🙂

Summary The Wind in the Willows:

Kenneth Grahame’s exuberant yet whimsical The Wind in the Willows belongs to the golden age of children’s classic novels. These charming, exciting and humorous tales of the riverbank and its life featuring the wonderfully imagined Ratty, Mole, Badger and the irrepressible but conceited Toad of Toad Hall — whose passion for motor cars (“The only way to travel! Here today — in next week tomorrow”) lands him in many scrapes — still continue exert their charm over adults as well as children. (source: Goodreads.com)

Personal Opinion:

1. Do you have a favorite character in the book? Who is it and why?

I loved Mole! He’s just so adorable, he’s curious about the rest of
the world, but also ‘homey’. He’s a loyal friend and I love how he is
emotional about a lot of things. I think I can identify with Mole,
because he’s quite similar to my own character 🙂

 2. What do you think about Toad? Would you make Toad your friend?What
about all the tricks he’s up to?

Lol, Toad…yeah what can I say? He’s the ‘bad’ boy, but not a bad boy
in a bad kind of way ;). I thought he was hilarious! The way he sees
things, the way he perceives the world is very different from his
friends. The tricks he comes up with to get his way are just so
funny 😉 It’s probably hard to be his friend though, because you keep
trying to get him on the right path, to make him see the faults in his
decisions, but in the end, he never really listens and will go his own
way.

3. What is the main theme or themes in the book?

It’s about exploring the world and all the different things the world has to offer. However, I think that friendship is the main theme in the book. And that’s exactly what I loved about it!

4. Why do you think the book is called “The Wind in the Willows”?

I just googled around a bit about the book and came across this info:

~~~Kenneth Grahame’s original title was planned to be “The Wind in the
Reeds”, but another book with that title already existed and “The Wind
in the Willows” was a substitute which was chosen from several others
that were proposed. (Interestingly, one of Grahame’s own proposals was
“Mr Mole and his Mates” which gives an indication of which character
he regarded as the focal character.)~~~

I think this is interesting! Because reeds are much more present in
the book that willows, with all the stories and background information
of life at the river. I don’t really know why Graham would in the end
chose to go with willows.

Book 3 – The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – John Boyne

Summary The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas:

Berlin 1942

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences. (source: Goodreads)

Personal Opinion:

I finished this book in 2 days. It was such a beautifully written story. I loved the way it only gave us the point of view of Bruno. You only get his side of the story, the way he sees it. I really thought this was magnificently done! You get bits and pieces of the real world and how awful the place really is, but you also get to experience the innocence of a child. You sense there’s going to be a sad ending, but I didn’t see this one coming myself. It was very well done and even though I am more of a fan of happy endings, this one was just perfect, considering the time and setting of the novel. There were no happy endings during WWII in Auschwitz.

I also watched the movie, which was pretty well done, but not as good as the book in my opinion. The end is a bit different and more ‘Hollywood’ than the book. And I really thought they should’ve cast a different actor for the role of Bruno’s dad…Maybe I’m biased because he’s too much ‘Lupin from Harry Potter’ to me, but in my imagination his dad was much tougher and distanced from the family than they portrayed in the movie.

Book 2: Linger – Maggie Stiefvater

Summary Linger:

WARNING: SPOILERS if you haven’t read the first book yet, don’t read this summary about the sequel 🙂

In Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabel, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole. (Source: Goodreads.com)

Personal Opinion:

Like the first book, it was sometimes a bit confusing who was talking when…especially because there are 2 more points of view that we get to read about (Isabelle and Cole). I think I could’ve done without Isabelle’s thoughts, but I found Cole’s perspective and background story very interesting!

Even though I liked Shiver more, because the story was all new and exciting, and even though I think Linger was a bit more predictable, I still really enjoyed reading this book. The ending is a huge cliffhanger and makes me anxiously await the release of the last book, Forever somewhere in 2011.

Oh and the romance between Grace and Sam just never gets old, they are just the cutest couple 🙂 I’m a sucker for teen romance, I know 😉

Book 1: Shiver – Maggie Stiefvater

What a way to start 2011!!! I already finished one book in the first two days of the year. Maybe this time around I will make it to 50…have to keep reading at this rate though, and since I’m starting a fulltime job tomorrow, I doubt I magically have more time this year, lol. I’m going to try anyway 😉

Summary Shiver:

the cold.
Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn’t know why.

the heat.
Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace…until now.

the shiver.
For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it’s spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human—and Grace must fight to keep him—even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future. (source: Goodreads.com)

Personal Opinion:

SCOREEEE!!! This already is one of my favorite books I’ve ever read! The romance between Sam and Grace is so cute. It’s not overdone and not cheesy at all. It’s hard for them to be together though, because Sam can change back to being a wolf at any time. They try to make the most of the time they have together. But, things spiral out of control fast…Sam and Grace try to protect the secret of the pack, but this ends up to be harder than ever.

The tension that Stiefvater builds is amazing and it kept me on the edge of my seat half of the time I was reading. The only criticism that I can think of is that it gets a bit confusing with the perspective switching. The chapters are divided between Grace and Sam’s point of view. Even though it states which character’s chapter you’re reading, sometimes I was reading so fast because of the plot that got so thrilling, that I forgot to pay attention and got confused who’s thoughts I was reading about. Other than that, really awesome book and I already started reading Linger, the sequel of Shiver 🙂

Last book of 2010: Terry Goodkind – Faith of the Fallen

Personal Opinion:

This book is part of the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. It contains 11 books that are part of the series, Faith of the Fallen is part 6.  I won’t give a summary of this book, because it can spoil the fun for the people who still have to read the first books 🙂

I am obsessed with Goodkind’s work. He’s a brilliant Fantasy writer and I love all the previous books in this series. This one is no exception. It’s thrilling, the suspence near the end nearly killed me, the characters are well developed, and I love the balance of humor, sadness, friendship, loyalty, treason, love and happiness all in one story.

If you like Fantasy novels, you definitely should check out Terry Goodkind. He can be a bit gruesome and the gory details aren’t always pleasant to read, but it gives his writing a sense of honesty. He doesn’t hold back on the sad parts to make them hurt less…and I guess that’s what real life is like as well.

Failure!

As you can see, I’m failing miserably here with my bookchallenge. It’s almost December and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to read a book every other day to complete my challenge.

Also, I’m in the middle of moving house, so it’s a bit of a stressful time and I don’t have much time for reading. But….winter is almost here, which means lots of long cold nights and weekends to curl up on the couch and dive into a book 😀 I can’t wait to get settled in our home and be able to relax again with a good book. A friend of the family gave us these very very comfy chairs that are just perfect and I can’t wait to snuggle up in them as well haha.

Anyway, as I do not like to fail things, I decided I’ll give the challenge another try in 2011! This time I’ll start in January, instead of March and I hope to be able to complete it this time around 🙂 If not, that’s ok too and I just continue to write reviews about every book I’ve read.

Book 27: Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

FIRST OF ALL, IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE HUNGER GAMES’ FIRST 2 BOOKS YET AND PLAN TO DO SO, PLEASE STOP READING RIGHT NOW! BECAUSE THIS IS THE FINAL BOOK IN THE SERIES AND THE SUMMARY WILL SPOIL ALL THE FUN FOR YOU IF YOU STILL HAVE TO READ THE FIRST TWO BOOKS.

Summary Mockinjay:

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans — except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay — no matter what the personal cost. (Source: Goodreads.com)

Personal Opinion:

OH MY GOD! I was waiting for this book for AGES and when it finally arrived I finished it in 2 days. I really wanted the experience to last longer, but I just couldn’t stop reading. This final book of The Hunger Games series is the most depressing one of all. While there is hope, because of the revolution, Katniss’ life is turned upside down and she is losing control over her own life.

I loved the suspence, the way Katniss tries to keep her composure in this difficult time and how she fights for her own beliefs. Also, her loyalty to the people that care about her is very well put in this book. It’s not overdone and you really get a peak inside Katniss’ mind. How the whole ordeal is affecting her and the people around her. I will not talk too much about the plot because spoiling it would take away half of the fun of reading this book. You must prepare yourself for some serious OMG OH NO moments though…and that’s all I’ll say about that…;) Yes, it’s dark, yes it’s depressing…but still, Collins is able to balance things and keep things interesting until the very last end.

I’ve read many reviews about this book, and it seems like you either love it or don’t like it….some people were very dissappointed, others are declaring their undying love for it…I guess I’m one of the people who really loved it! I think the first book is the best, because everything is still new and you can’t believe what is happening. But I mean, come on? What did you expect to happen? The first two  books were shocking in some ways, things got worse at the end of the second book…it can’t just all of a sudden be right in a few chapters…This book will not cheer you up, it will leave you haunted by psychological games and raging emotions…but I love that about this book! Anyway, this last book finally gives us the ‘closure’ we need as readers and I’m really sad there won’t be another book to look forward to 😦

Book 26: The Compound – S.A. Bodeen

Summary The Compound: Eli, the 15-year-old son of a billionaire techno-preneur, has spent the last six years with his family in the massive underground shelter his father has built, knowing that nuclear war has destroyed the world he knows—and killed his grandmother and his twin brother, who couldn’t reach the compound in time. With nine years to go before the air outside will be safe to breathe again, the food supply shows signs of running out, but Eli’s father has a solution—provided they jettison all morals and ethics. Repulsed and already suspicious, Eli begins investigating his father’s claims, and sets up a family death match against a man who grows increasingly irrational and sinister but no less powerful. (Source: Amazon.com)

Personal Opinion: For some reason I like apocalyptic Young Adult Fiction…I have no idea why exactly. (maybe to make my own world seem much more positive in comparison with the characters in the books, lol).

In the beginning of this book we find out a lot about Eli, about his past and his personality. We discover that he is very insecure because his twin brother always used to be the center of attention, the boy who everyone liked, while he was just a “package deal”, like he says himself. I think this first half of the book is nice because you get a real good sense of what Eli is experiencing and what he is like. The lock up and the loss of his brother and grandma affect him in many ways. For instance, ever since he was locked up in the Compound, he never lets anyone touch him because he feels he has failed his family and he’s not worthy of love and warmth…

Things begin to speed up when the reader discovers that the foodsupplies are running low. Bodeen gives us hint by hint that something is terribly wrong. You just don’t know what exactly is up and who is involved in this. Eli goes on a quest to find out the (horrible) truth. In the end I just couldn’t stop reading and the book really turned into a very suspenceful, thriller-like story. It was well constructed and I liked the way Bodeen drops all the hints on the reader out of the blue…just like that, without any further explanation, so you have to work it out yourself, just like Eli has to 🙂

Book 25: No & Me – Delphine De Vigan

Summary No & Me:

Parisian teenager Lou has an IQ of 160, OCD tendencies, and a mother who has suffered from depression for years. But Lou is about to change her life—and that of her parents—all because of a school project about homeless teens. While doing research, Lou meets No, a teenage girl living on the streets. As their friendship grows, Lou bravely asks her parents if No can live with them, and is astonished when they agree. No’s presence forces Lou’s family to come to terms with a secret tragedy. But can this shaky, newfound family continue to live together when No’s own past comes back to haunt her? (Source: Goodreads.com)

Personal Opinion:

My friend bought this book and she asked me to read it first, because she had so many other books to read and thought this would be a book that I’d like. Well, she was right! What an amazing story! It’s not so much the action in the novel (there isn’t much action to  begin with), but more the way Lou describes her life, her inner thoughts and the way she sees the world around her. It had some very recognizable things in there, especially the way Lou’s mind works. Not that I claim to have such a high IQ myself (I don’t for sure!), but I do experience some things in the exact same way Lou described. I could never really put this into words myself because I simply didn’t know how to describe it 🙂 For example the following quote:

“I take the quickest way home and replay the conversation, which is easy because I record everything, down to the smallest sigh. I don’t know why, but I’ve been able to do it since I was little – words are printed in my head like on a scroll, stored for several days. I erase them when I need to in order to avoid traffic jam.”

The bond between No and Lou is so strong and yet so odd, but special at the same time. It seems like they constantly want to try to save each other, while forgetting to save themselves. It was a heartbreaking story, and the ending was not at all satisfying, but it did make sense and I suppose it suits the story very well. I applaud De Vigan for that 🙂