Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Friday, October 26, 2012

Consider this Maze...Unraveled

Where to start on a review of The Maze Runner? First, a short synopsis: Sixteen year old Thomas wakes to find himself inside a box that lifts him into a world where teen boys must work on their own to survive (well, they do get weekly supplies) and run through a Maze in hopes of finding a way to escape. All memories previous to this awakening are erased; the large living community is surrounded by giant walls which close at night to keep out the Grievers--a hybrid mechanical animal with the power to both sting and kill. And these boys who are trapped in this community (the Glade) are angry, and doubly so when Thomas's arrival signals a shift in the routine. Follow that up with the arrival of a girl with the note that says she is the last one ever, and the need for escape intensifies.

Great, great premise. The idea that a moving Maze somehow must be escaped by boys with no adult supervision is genius. Lots of tension and the threat of danger and death that's real...awesome. There's a bit of gore but not much, and lots of unanswered questions, including why is Thomas so different? Why does a girl show up? What happens when a boy is bitten and goes through the Changing? Lots of good stuff there, and there are sparks of brilliance along the way. The chapters often end on cliffhangers that defy you to stop reading, and the idea of a Griever attack is creepy stuff. By the time I was halfway through, I knew i would have to finish the book because I needed to know how they got out of that freaky Maze.

And there goes the good news.

It was a struggle to finish this book, but I committed myself halfway through and I meant to keep it. But the characters...I really only liked Chuck, and mostly I just felt sorry for him. Thomas was meant, I think, to be a strong, mysterious boy, and yet he was just clueless and frustrating, as were most of the others. I never warmed up to the "leaders" Alby and Newt, and Teresa...well, if I knew who she was, I might've been intrigued but really she was a throwaway character because she neither added to nor helped the storyline. Biggest issues beyond those? Lots of the story was transparent including (spoilers....) the names of the characters and WICKED's signs in the Maze. But mostly it was the style of writing, which was supposedly geared to young adult but in actuality is much more for the younger end of that spectrum (perhaps twelve/thirteen). Thomas was said to be sixteen and yet he acted much younger; I never warmed to him because he just didn't seem to be real. And the substitution of "shanks", "klunk", etc., for the words we *know* they are saying was just odd and irritating and only led to the aura of a younger mind-set.

Worst of all, however, was that non-ending. If the author was trying to ensure that we'd go for the next books, he underestimated his intended audience, because of the five friends I know who have read this book, four of us will not go ahead to the next one simply because of that ending. I won't detail it here, but I will say that the lack of answers and the forced march into The Scorch Trials is a huge turn off.

I initially gave The Maze Runner two stars because I *never* take two weeks to read a book of this size, and for the reasons I mentioned above. However, upon reflection, I decided it warranted 2.5 stars (there are some gems in there, and the excitement, when it's good, works well) so I'm allowing that to round up to 3 stars. Consider yourself gifted, Mr. Dashner.


1 comment:

Mirella said...

I would like to offer you two new historical fiction novels to review. Both books are great reads and page turners.
We would be happy to provide you the books in Kindle/Mobi or ePub format.
Please let us know if we can send you a copy.
Thanks very much for your consideration.

1. Orphan of the Olive Tree - A family saga set in 13th century Tuscany Italy

A deeply evocative story of lies, secrets, and betrayal, Orphan of the Olive Tree is a family saga of two unforgettable women, an oath sworn in blood, a curse uttered in envy, and the dark secret that destroys their lives. From two neighboring villas in the heart of the Tuscan countryside to the elegance of Siena; from a world steeped in ancient superstitions to a culture where family honor is paramount comes this multi-layered novel of the lives, loves, secrets and strivings of two women and their families in the 13th century. Felicia Ventura is an unpretentious woman, alone in the world, who is happily married to Enrico. She dreams of a simple future raising a family, but her hopes are shattered because of a curse and the casting of the evil eye by her envious neighbor, a Sicilian beauty named Prudenza. Prudenza is worldly and materialistic and her envy of Felicia knows no bounds. She casts the evil eye on her adversary. When Felicia gives birth to twin sons, Prudenza revives an ancient superstition and spreads a rumor that Felicia’s twins were fathered by different men. Soon, Prudenza gives birth to her own twins - daughters. Desperate to save face, Prudenza rids herself of one infant, keeping the child’s existence secret. But as the years go by, the truth has a way of making itself known. Soon Prudenza’s deception will lead to the unraveling of everything she values in life. Orphan of the Olive Tree is an unforgettable novel about wicked intentions, superstition, undisclosed secrets, unstoppable destinies; and two generations of women and the extraordinary event that will vindicate or destroy them.

2. The Contessa's Vendetta

To be buried alive is everyone’s worse nightmare.

A deadly plague is killing thousands in 17th century Vicenza Italy. Contessa Mancini struggles to protect her family and servants, but despite her precautions, she is the one who falls prey to the deadly illness. Her body is tossed into a coffin and swiftly buried in the underground, dank confines of her family’s vault.

But Contessa Mancini is not dead. No, she is very much alive. She awakens terrorized, trapped in dense darkness surrounded by the flimsy wood of the coffin they buried her in. Desperate, she claws and kicks until she escapes its stifling restraint, only to find herself trapped in the mausoleum with the decaying bodies of her ancestors. As she seeks to escape, she discovers a vast treasure of gold, silver, and gems secretly hidden in the vault by brigands, and the secret tunnel they used to hide it there.

Free at last, she returns home to her beloved husband, her best friend, and her darling daughter. But before she reveals herself to her loved ones, she learns of an endless series of lies, deceits, and betrayal. As she unravels the labyrinth of shocking treachery, her wrath breathes life to an overwhelming need for vengeance. Slowly, meticulously, she launches her diabolocial vendetta.

The Contessa’s Vendetta is a retelling of the classic novel, Vendetta by Marie Corelli. Inspired by this epic story, the author weaves her own captivating tale in a new setting, a new century, and with new plot twists while remaining faithful to the key story elements.