Friday, January 31, 2014

Review Me Twice - The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I liked this book, I really did.  I liked it because it was fast paced from start to finish.  Some books can't pull that off well, but Dashner knows just how to keep you turning the pages.  He does very well with problems and situations popping up without them being TOO outrages: they were just enough.

I liked all the characters, enough that if something happened to them, I got upset.  I like how hard to read some of them were.  By the end, I STILL didn't know if I liked Alby or not.  And, what's more, my favorite characters weren't the main ones (I feel that a book is doing its job when my favorite character is someone other than the main character.  It's EASY to make a reader fall in love with the lead, but it's hard to make a reader fall in love with a character that you may not get to know as well.)

BUT (and there's a always a but), this was very much a special snowflake kind of book.  Thomas is the character we follow, and it's clear from second one that he's different.  He "remembers" more than the other characters (by which I mean he has really strong feelings of deja vu.)  He does stuff immediately that all the other characters have been afraid to do.  He wins almost everyone over, except of course, the one guy who is meant to be his Sworn Enemy and cause him all sorts of problems.  And, despite breaking all the rules, he gets rewarded.

I understand why the trope is done, I didn't even necessarily think it was badly written, but sometimes, it just gets to be a bit much.  It's a bit much if I can't totally buy into the special snowflake scenario.  Thomas's snowflake was just a little too unique for my taste.

I still really LIKED the book though.  I blew through it in just a few days (like I mentioned: Dashner is REALLY good and making me turn the pages.  I kind of couldn't stop.)  I liked the characters and how it ended (though, if you're like me, you probably figured it out.  However, I don't consider that a negative to the book.  I almost always figure it out.)  I already have gotten my hands on a copy of the second book.  I think you should pick this one up.  It's worth it, and if nothing else, you'll have read the book before the movie comes out this year.

Cassy's right... she does always figure it out. (It's why we love her.) I, however, almost never do. Sometimes I manage to forget the ending to something I've read a couple times before! (It's how I managed to really enjoy And Then There Were None several separate times.) I got kind of close on this one, but still not quite right, and I definitely didn't see what I would consider an epilogue (but I appreciate that it was really just the last part of the book). Knowing that this book was part of a series made me wonder if I would even get to find out any of the big secrets in this book, so I didn't try too hard. (Having requested the sequel from the library and then getting snowed in for five days will make you less anxious to get to the end so you can get to the next book, let me tell you.)

I like the characters. They felt like real people. You don't know a lot about them, because - let's face it - they don't know all that much about themselves, because they enter the Glade with no memories. (Can I just point out for a second what a great writing mechanism that is? All exposition feels natural and necessary because your hero has no idea who he is, where he is, who anyone else is... and we own up to it at the beginning. It's really just brilliant in its simplicity.)

I don't, however, much care for our visible, tangible villains, by which I mean the Grievers: pulsating masses with mechanical-type arms and tools and some kind of wheels that make horrible whirring, clanking noises. If they sting you, you have a hell of a week or so to look forward to. If some other circumstance befalls you, you die. (I don't remember getting a clear picture of how a Griever kills you, but I do know it's supposed to be gruesome.) I'm a very visual person, and I sometimes gloss over descriptions while I'm reading, and I rely heavily on the mentions of parts of tangible nouns to keep up with what I'm supposed to be seeing. I still haven't got a clue what I think a Griever really looks like. It got a little more solid by the end, but they're really abstract in my mind. I don't know if that's James Dashner's problem or mine, but I'm inclined to say it's mine. But if you're like me in that way, look out for that issue.

I already mentioned that I've requested the sequel from the library (and I have the prequel and the third book already checked out) so that should give you a hint that I really liked this book and Dashner's writing in general.

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