Sunday, February 20, 2011

Some Recent Book Reviews

So, I'm addicted to reading. You know those nerdy kids that you see walking home from school reading? While wearing big glasses? And you feel sad in your heart and hope that they don't get picked on and that they have at least one friend? Yes, that kid was me. Well, I haven't been reading as much as I should, but I have started to get a little bit of a 2011 list. Here are some recent reviews.

Mazerunner by James Dashner

Well-written with several surprising twists, this book follows the grain of the Hunger Games Trilogy. Basically, this book is about a group of teenage boys who live in a wall enclosed compound called "The Glade," which is surrounded by a seemingly impossible maze. The only safe spot in the maze is their compound, which seals daily. They've been sending out Runners every day to map out the maze, but it changes every day. After years of trying, they seem to be going nowhere.

Meanwhile, Thomas wakes up in an elevator heading up with no memory of how he got there or who he is. While he can remember what grocery stores are, he can't remember any specific grocery stores. He knows what a Mom and Dad is, but he cannot remember his own. He arrives to find out that like clockwork, every month, a boy arrives in the Glade. However, the next day, the very first girl arrives in the Glade. She delivers the message that no one else is coming and the end is coming. Whoever has created the Glade, and put the boys there, is ready to end the normal routine. The boys scramble to solve an impossible maze before time runs out.

The thing I loved about this book, was that it was difficult to predict what was going to happen. Dashner is skilled at making you very confident that things are one way, and then changing your perspective chapters or even pages later. When I finished this book, I was very intrigued with the set up he had created. Try as I could, I could not figure out the entire solution. Second, although the boys do have their own made up slang ("shuck face," etc.), I did not find their dialogue juvenile or annoying. This was one of my complaints with Fablehaven.

Overall, I know a book is great when I get nervous reading it. What I mean by this, is that I get so absorbed into the book that I can barely wait to see what happens. I cannot put the book down. I give it 5 stars.

Scorch Trials by James Dashner

This book continues the deception and trickery. You are still left wondering what exactly is going on, who can we trust, and how on earth is he going to tie things up. I won't give too much about the plot because it would be a spoiler for Mazerunner. However, I felt that this book didn't have nearly as much direction and motivation as the first book. It was still excellent, but I had a few moments where I wanted to skip over parts. My real complaint is that the third book doesn't come out until October 2011! I give it 4 stars.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

This was excellent! An absolutely wonderful, well researched portrayal of Louis Zamperini's amazing story. This book is so well written, it's amazing the author did not live the events herself. Further, it's almost impossible to read the things this man went through. You follow Louis from Olympian athlete in the Berlin Olympics to Air Force bombardier. When his plane crashes, he is stranded on the ocean with little food for 47 days. He then spends the next couple years enduring incredible atrocities in multiple Japanese prisoner of war camps.

The writing is this book is vivid, the research is absolutely meticulous, and the painting Hillenbrand recreates is so rich in your mind, that you feel like you're seeing it happen. An absolutely incredible read...5 stars!

The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanna DuPrau

This is the third book in the City of Ember series.  Although I started out enjoying this series, this installment felt disjointed and unrelated. The main character was immature and foolish. It was very difficult to relate to her. It was definitely not as compelling of a read as the first two books. Saying that, I am still planning on reading the 4th book to see how it ends. 2.5 stars

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

In her stunning debut fantasy novel, Kristen Cashore, weaves a world of strong characters and believable dialogue. Katsa is born into one of seven neighboring kingdoms with the "grace" or skill of killing. In her kingdom, all Gracelings are automatically taken into the service of the king. As such, she is forced to kill or punish the king's enemies. However, when she meets Prince Po, she makes an unlikely friend, and through a chain of events realizes that there is an extremely powerful danger in a nearby kingdom that could literally destroy the world with words alone. They go on a quest to save their world.

I really enjoyed this book. The growth of the heroine and the development of the plot was enjoyable and urged you to keep reading. The concept of people being born with "graces" (fighting, swimming, mind reading, sensing storms, cooking, archery, etc.) was very intriguing to me. Because of her grace, Katsa feels very disconnected from others. In many ways, they fear her, and she views herself as a monster. However, Cashore paints a vivid picture that gradually helps you understand what is truly happening.

Parents should note that although it is written for the 14 and up audience, there are a few very discreet romantic scenes. Saying that, my main complaint with this book was that the author tried to repeatedly embed some of her personal opinions into the story. Katsa is opposed to getting married ever and thinks that a deep romantic relationship does not need the 'restricting' ties of marriage. I was personally annoyed by this and felt it unneccesary to the story. Because of this, I give it 4.5 stars.

1 comment:

  1. I just got Maze Runner from the library, can't wait to read it. As soon as I finish my current book (which you would love The Thirteenth Tale) I am all over it, thanks for the good reviews!