The Maze Runner by James Dashner: Three Stars

6186357Title: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian

Synopsis: Once a month without fail a new boy arrives in the maze. They remember nothing of their previous lives.

These boys have been trying to solve the maze for two years. No one has succeeded. Boys who don’t return to the glade before dark never survive. Strange monsters are prepared to attack at any moment, but life goes on. The boys have settled into their lives in the maze not realizing that everything is about to change.

When Thomas arrived in the maze nothing seems out of the ordinary. Thomas’s arrival was normal, expected, but the arrival the next morning is not. She’s a girl, and she’s triggered The Ending– whatever that means. In the coming days one thing becomes clear, if the boys of the maze don’t find a way out of the maze all of them will die.

Review: I am conflicted. I like the premise for this book, but I struggled to finish it.

The main world-building problem I had with getting into this book was connecting with Thomas as a character. It is written in third person, which is not a bad thing, there are plenty of books written in third person I love, but sometimes it makes it more difficult to connect to the characters.

I have also been reading way too many dystopian novels lately. It is incredibly hard to impress me with them. Had I read this a few years ago I would have loved this book, but I didn’t read it a few years ago. I read it in 2014, and because of that I can’t give this higher than a three.

The  in this book could have been expanded upon. We got to see the maze, and the slang was a nice touch though overdone at times, but I never got a real sense of the maze. To me it was always just a maze with monsters in it. It wasn’t until I saw the movie that I stated to know what everything looked like, and that expanded upon the description in the book.

I understand that this book is supposed to have elements of mystery, but I wish the reader had learned a little more at the end. I’m not going to spoil the ending, but I will say that the reader gets some answers, but it’s clear something else is really going on.

What readers should know: This book is fairly clean. There are some character deaths, mild violence, and fictional curse words, but other than that there aren’t many disclaimers.

Conclusion: Not a bad book, but it’s not for me. Others who aren’t tired with the market’s over-saturation of dystopian novels might like it more. Three out of five.

3 blue jays

United We Spy Book Review

Title: United We Spy (Gallagher Girls Book 6)

Author: Ally Carter

Release Date: September 17, 2013

Format: Hardcover

Synopsis: Reasons to Continue Reading this Series (A list by Jacqueline) 1. Life in spy school isn’t exactly a walk in the park (unless they take a walk to a park). 2. Cammie and her friends are back and ready to jump right into the fray. 3. More spying, more action, and a progressively darker plot line. 4. Graduating high school while trying to stop a top secret terrorist organization and, oh, did I mention kissing?

Trailer: *Note: This trailer was made by the publisher.*

Review: While I have always been a fan of Ally Carter’s Heist Society series, Gallager Girls and I have had somewhat of a rocky past. After book one I was hesitant to read on, (because the first book was to cutesy for my taste) but goodness am I glad that I did. 

Like the previous books, United We Spy was just the slightest tinge more violent than the preceding one. Had I been told while reading book one that one of characters would kill a man later on in the series would I have believed them? Short answer: no, absolutely not.

I loved the way that the romance in this series was there for those who wanted it but was not all consuming for those who didn’t. I enjoyed the way this book jumped right into the fray without an instant for readers to catch their breath. Of course it should also be noted that this made it a little more difficult for those who had not just finished reading the previous book, but that was a detail of minor concern.

I would have preferred a greater sense of closure by having some of the characters from book one make an appearance, but as I’ve already mentioned book one was not my favorite book in this series so that wasn’t really much of an issue. This book was fun and fast paced. It was a pleasure visiting the Gallagher Acadamy. I was sad to see it end but ultimately satisfied.

Rating/Recommendations: I give this book a five in five rating because I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s difficult to keep a series interesting for six books but Ally Carter managed. I highly recommend this book to fans of this series. However, it should be noted that this series is on the girly side of fiction, so I recommend that any boys interested in Ms. Carter’s work try the Heist Society series instead.

five blue jays