November 15th, 2009

Books Read

Book 39: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Here is book thirty-nine from my Book List 2009. The link leads to a more detailed review in my journal.

39. Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Pages: 374
Thoughts: Link
Review in five words or less: Intriguing puzzle; engrossing, fast-paced.
Personal Rating: «««« out of five.

The only thing Thomas can remember when he exits the lift is his name. He steps into a community filled with boys who have all been in his situation. One new boy arrives every month, and it has been that way for two years. The boys adhere to a strict schedule, so no one really has the time to tell Thomas much of anything at first. He must struggle to acclimatize himself and figure out what's going on from observation.

The boys live in a giant maze filled with traps and vicious creatures. They have been trying to solve the mystery of the maze for two years to find a way out. It is the responsibility of the Runners in the group to go out into the Maze and map out their assigned quadrants. It's a quite challenge because the walls of the Maze move regularly. Thomas immediately wants to join the Runners because it feels familiar to him—he just can't figure out why.

Then a mysterious girl shows up in the lift and things change rapidly and become more dire. They must work quickly to find a way out. They must work together to survive.

This was extremely fast-paced and I enjoyed it a lot. With each new chapter, the mystery of the Maze continued to grow, and it was interesting trying to figure out why the boys were there in the first place. My theories didn't match up with the end result, but I was completely satisfied with how it ended. The only thing I didn't really like was the girl. Her attitude was irritating and she seemed completely out of place in the story.

The book ended with a rather fascinating cliffhanger, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel. Highly recommended.

39 / 50 books. 78% done!

13,902 / 15000 pages. 93% done!

# 76 The Forgotten Garden

The Forgotten Garden

Kate Morton

A foundling abandoned on a ship to Australia with no clue to her past but a small, white suitcase containing a book of fairytales, a children's author, a small cottage on a Cornwall estate, a hidden garden, and a garden maze - these were all shining elements in this incredible gothic tale of family secrets.

The Forgotten Garden is probably my favorite book of 2009! I absolutely loved it! It was just amazing!

I loved the gothic feel, and the fairytale aspect fit in just right, as did the homage to Frances Hodges Burnett's The Secret Garden, which was a fun aspect. Morton wove it all together to beautifully into one harmonius tale, told over several generations.

This is the perfect book for curling up with under the covers on a chilly winter night, or while sitting out on a garden bench in the shade of big tree during the summer. In other words, it's everything I look for in a book. It's magical!


Books 34 & 35

Title: The Bro Code
Author: Barney Stinson with Matt Kuhn
Themes/Topics: Humor, Bros

If you like the show How I Met Your Mother, you will find this book amusing. It contains the Bro Code, as written by Barney, complete with amendments. It is an extremely quick read, more anecdotal than anything, but a lot of fun. It also references the show often so this is a read for a true fan.

Title: Incantation
Author: Alice Hoffman
Themes/Topics: Religious Persecution, Family, Nature

Alice Hoffman is one of my favorite authors, but I didn't like this as much. Her young adult literature doesn't have the same feel as the rest of her writings, some of the nature imagery was there, but not enough for my liking.

64. Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld

64. Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld - 448 pages (9/10)

Scott Westerfeld already has one amazing world he created, the sci-fi world of his Uglies series, and now he's gone ahead and made a world that's even cooler. Not only is this an excellent alternate history or steampunk book, but it's filled with absolutely stunning illustrations by artist Keith Thompson. One of my favourites:

(it uploaded annoyingly tiny, but you get the idea. A jellyfish airship thing!)

Scott Westerfeld does an excellent, succinct job of summarizing his world in a short interview he did on John Scalzi's blog, Whatever. He states, "In the world of Leviathan, technology has split into two tribes: the Germanic Clankers, who are machine lovers, and the British-led Darwinists, who weave the life-threads of natural creatures into fabricated beasts. (To put it simply, in this world, Origins of Species was an instruction manual.)" In this book, there are tidbits of actual history, strange creatures, amazing technology, strong characters, and a truly original setting.

Alek is the son of the Austrian-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. His parents have been assassinated (though in a slightly different manner than actually happened in history.) His son, though he is unable to inherit his father's role because his mother was not of royal enough blood, is on the run for his life along with some bodyguards that I imagine look and sound like Arnold Schwarznegger. Deryn is a young Scottish girl who desperately wants to join the air force. She ends up joining and cross-dressing as a man to do so. I love me some crossdressing in novels, and this works really well.

Eventually, of course, Deryn and Alek end up meeting in a strange turn of events and begin to grow close despite being on opposite sides of a brewing war. They both must re-evaluate their prejudices about the other and have interesting debates about nature vs machines. I also enjoy that they both keep a secret - one is royalty and one is a girl. I won't go into too many plot points because I'm wary of spoilers, but is is definitely an excellent book by one of my favourite young adult authors. I appreciate it when those writing for a younger audience make it fun, but sneak in good life lessons and values. Westerfeld wrote an afterward clearing up was was history and what was fantasy for readers not familiar with WWI. This is one of my favourite reads of the year.

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