Wednesday, February 27, 2013

REVIEW: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

TITLE: The Maze Runner
AUTHOR: James Dashner
PUBLISHED: October 2009
GENRE: YA, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic,
SERIES: Book #1 of the Maze Runner Trilogy
WHERE I GOT IT: ebook borrowed from the library
READ FROM: February 24th - 27th 2013.

ABOUT BLURB: Thomas wakes up in a cold dark metal box, not remembering who he was or how he got there. When the box is opened he finds himself in a place called the glade surrounded by a group of boys roughly around his own age. There is no way out of the glade save into a maze that shifts every night. Even that isn't danger free since grievers come out and night and will kill anyone that gets in their path.

EXPECTATIONS: I knew that this was a popular YA series so it peeked my interest. Having just finished 'The Kill Order', I was interested to see where the hype for the series began. The story sounded very unique and interesting to me.

WHAT I LIKED: Wow, just wow. This book kept me on edge from the moment I started reading it. It was really hard to put down. It kept you guessing right from the beginning and I could feel Thomas's frustration at not getting clear answers right away. The whole concept was interesting. I found that just the thought of the slug like creatures they call the grievers sent a chill up my spin every time they were talked about. But then again that makes sense since I really DO NOT like any thing resembling a slug or worm or any other squishy thing like that.

This was one book that I couldn't even puzzle out what was going to happen next since everything was so unexpected. I actually liked the writing in this book better then in 'The Kill Order'.

CHARACTERS: I was intrigued by Thomas's character right from the beginning. We know that he isn't just regular like the other boys but special somehow. I also had a hard time picturing Chuck as a 13 year old in my mind, since he seemed so innocent and defenseless. Every time he was around or mentioned I kept picturing him as a 5 year old. He probably was my second favourite character next to Thomas. I guess maybe that is how we are supposed to picture him though.

HOW IT ENDED: (possible spoilers so read this section with caution if you don't want anything spoiled.) The ending was a surprise but by that time I already figured that there was going to be that twist. I still haven't figured out how this 'test' would help find the cure though or how it is connected to the aftermath of the flare. I hope that in the second book there is more explanation of this. Also having read The Kill Order already I am left to wonder what happened to the little girl that Mark and his friends risked their lives to send through to the people supposedly not effected by the virus. I mean wasn't she supposed to be able to provide a vaccine since she was immune? Why develop this test if they had her? What happened to her? Hopefully some of my questions will be answered in the next book.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I loved this book so much that I rated it 5 stars since it would be something I would definitely consider rereading at some point. It will be interesting down the road to see what I will pick up the second time reading this that I might have missed the first time. I loved the whole mystery of the maze and the metal box. I am looking forward to reading the second in the series.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Sunday, February 24, 2013

REVIEW: The Kill Order by James Dashner

TITLE: The Kill Order
AUTHOR: James Dashner
PUBLISHED: August 2012
GENRE: YA, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic,  
SERIES: Prequel to the Maze Runner Trilogy
WHERE I GOT IT: ebook borrowed from library
READ FROM: February 21 to 24, 2013

ABOUT BLURB: Solar Flares destroy the earth and cause a multitude of problems forcing those left to fight for survival. Mark and his good friend Trina are lucky to be alive, having escaped New York City from flooding caused by the flares. Now they have settled into a community with other survivors trying to piece back together a life empty of family and loved ones. Unfortunately disease is spreading quickly. Mark and Trina are convinced that there is a cure and race to find it before it is to late.

EXPECTATIONS: I was getting set to read the Maze Runner trilogy but discovered that he had written this prequel as well so I thought I would read it first.

CHARACTERS: I'm sad to say that I never really felt too much of a connection to any of the characters besides Mark. I felt like some of them were only there so that something could “happen” to them, sort of like the red shirts in the original Star Trek series.

WHAT I LIKED: I liked how we are thrown into the mist of the story after the flare and how we are slowly shown through flashbacks of Mark how they came to that place. The book really sucked me in right at the beginning. I really liked how the whole thing was like a puzzle slowly coming together.

WHAT I HATED: I didn't like how it seemed to drag on after awhile. I was really hooked at first but there is only so much that I can take a character getting knocked down, punched in the face, getting into a fight or defending himself before it becomes really repetitive. After all of that I want to know why nobody ever commented on the bruises he must have had on his face! It just seemed like it was run here, get into a fight, get away, run here, get into another fight and so on. I get that this is how it probably is in Mark's world giving the circumstances but still it made the book drag on and on.

I also found some interactions between characters, mostly between Alec and Mark to be very awkward and fake. It mostly happened when they were joking with each other. It made me start to hate the characters because of it. By the end I didn't care what happened to them which makes me sad because I really want to love the characters.

HOW IT ENDED: The ending was okay but it seemed to take forever to get to that place. I was relieved when I knew the end was near because like I said before they were constantly in a fight it seemed. I get that it is a chaotic world and that most people have been infected with a disease that made them go crazy but still!

FINAL THOUGHTS: The world they live in is a very interesting place. I view it as a potential future for the world that we live in today if we don't take care of our planet. While I didn't really love this book I am looking forward to reading the Maze Runner trilogy.

RATING: 3 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

REVIEW: The Girl's Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp

TITLE: The Girl's Guide to Homelessness
AUTHOR: Brianna Karp
PUBLISHED: April 2011
GENRE: Memoir
WHERE I GOT IT: ebook borrowed from library

ABOUT: Brianna Karp had a terrible upbringing, abused both mentally and physically by both her parents, constantly under the scrutiny of a religion she no longer believed in and finds out she had two half sisters only after her father commits suicide. Despite all of that her life seemed to be going in a good direction, living on her own, having a job she loved and adopting her loving mastiff dog Fezzik. Unfortunately in 2008 the recession hit and she was one, like many Americans that could not escape the inevitable. She lost her job and had to give up her place and move back in with her mom and step father. This did not work out well for her and she soon found herself homeless. The only option left to her was to retrieve an RV that he father left her and begin living out of that.

EXPECTATIONS: I was browsing my library's online download center for ebooks to read and I felt like reading a memoir so I checked out that section and this book caught my eye. I have always had a roof over my head and never really came close to living on the streets so of course this book interested me. I can not even imagine what people living on the streets have to deal with day to day and especially not here in a Canadian winter! The title said it was a guide to homelessness so I thought it would give me some insight on how the homeless live and how they try to get off the streets. I was very disappointed that the book had little do with that.

WHAT I LIKED: I feel that the first part of the book was the most interesting. I found it interesting to learn about her background and a bit about Jehovah Witnesses. I really knew less about that Religion then I thought I knew. Sadly that is probably the extent of what I liked about the book, if you can really describe it as 'like' anyways since it was rather depressing.

WHAT I HATED: What I did not like was that the title was very very misleading. She did offer a few suggestions at the start but it quickly turned into a long story about her failing relationship with another homeless man from across the pond. There was no facts on homelessness, no information on how many are living on the streets or if the problem is getting worse or not.

I did however, change my view on homelessness a bit since before reading this I only visualized a person without a roof over their head needing to beg for change to buy food or other basic needs. I guess with anything, there are varying degrees of homelessness and obviously some people have it worse off then others. I think she was more lucky with what she had then other people because at least she did have some money and she did have a roof over her head.

I also didn't like that she mentioned a few times not being able to find an affordable apartment but was able to spend money on tickets to fly her boyfriend from Scotland not once bu twice to America to visit, stay at motels for weeks at a time, buy expensive presents and even borrow money to fly herself to Scotland. It just doesn't seem like a good use of her money considering the situation she was in.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I get that this is her memoir of her life and that this toxic relationship that she found herself in did play a big part at that time. I just think the name of the book was very misleading. I guess I don't really know how I would be if I was in a similar situation as her and maybe I do get that even though spending money to fly someone across the world and even go visit them might seem frivolous to me I can understand that when in the situation that she was in any connection with another human being you want to hold on to that as much as you can. I really hope that she finds herself in a better place, she sure hasn't had the happiest life up until that point.

RATING: 2 out of 5 stars

Monday, February 18, 2013

REVIEW: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

TITLE: The Book Thief
AUTHOR: Markus Zusak
PUBLISHED: December 2007
GENRE: Fiction, YA, historical fiction,
SETTING: Germany
WHERE I GOT IT: ebook borrow from the library

ABOUT: The book follows a young girl named Liesel Meminger as she struggles with life in Nazi Germany during WWII. It is told through the eyes of Death, who first ran into her standing over the grave of her brother. He is intrigued by her and witness's her stealing her first book. Death follows Liesel and watches her as she struggles to find her own place during a horrible time in the world's history.

EXPECTATIONS: I really had no expectations before I started reading it. I knew that it was a popular book that many seemed to really like so I thought it was time to finally read it for myself.

WHAT I LIKED: I liked the unexpected and unusual narrator of the novel, that being Death. Often throughout the book I kept wondering why Markus Zusak decided to tell it this way because to me without all the Death bits the story would have held it's own rather nicely. I think the story was told beautifully.

WHAT I HATED: I didn't like some of the descriptions Death used sometimes. I notice it more at the beginning though. Some of them left me scratching my head trying to figure out what he meant by them. I wish that I would have jotted a few down before I returned the book so I could have given a few examples. After I got deeper into the book, however, they either never jumped out at me or there weren't anymore.

HOW IT ENDED: Did I like the ending? Yes and No. The ending was pretty sad, not that it was too much of a shock since Death at one point tells us that it wasn't going to end well. It's funny though that even though when he spoiled the ending to his own story and then backtracked to the events leading up to the end I kept hoping that it would end differently, that maybe Death was actually wrong. The ending was sad but at the same time it wasn't. I don't want to give away the ending so I will just leave it at that.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I thought this book was excellent. I loved the narrative and I loved listening to Death tell us about Liesel and her life. I thought it was well written. Another book I could not put down.

MY RATING: 4 out of 5 stars.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

REVIEW: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

TITLE: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
AUTHOR: Ransom Riggs
PUBLISHED: June 2011
GENRE: YA fantasy, male lead,
SERIES: Miss Peregrine #1
SETTING: Cairnholm Island, Wales
WHERE I GOT IT: ebook borrow from the library

ABOUT BLURB: The book is about a 16 year old boy named Jacob who after a horrific event convinces his parents to let him travel to an Island off the coast of Wales to discover more about his Grandfather and his collection of strange and eerie photographs. What he finds is an adventure like he never thought was possible.

EXPECTATIONS: I honestly didn't know what to expect. I knew that it was a popular YA novel but didn't really know anything more about it. I absolutely LOVE the cover picture of the little girl seemingly hovering a half a foot off of the ground. After I started reading it, I read a bit about the author and his concept for the book and found that the pictures in the book were found vintage photos from either the authors collection or of that of other collectors. He wrote the story around the pictures. A definite intriguing idea.

WHAT I LIKED: I loved that the book was written around the pictures and I enjoyed seeing then scattered through out the book. They were quite eerie and very very cool at the same time.

WHAT I HATED: As much as I loved the story as a whole and the authors depiction of the Island and his writing style I really didn't care to much for any of the characters. To me they were just a vehicle to ride to the end of the book. I could have inserted any character, male of female with any name and I still would have been like 'meh'. I did find the children to be interesting in that they each have their own peculiarity about them but as a individual not so much. They were simply just there.

HOW IT ENDED: The ending for me was okay. By this time I knew that there was going to be a second book in the series so I knew to not expect an actual ending per say. I feel that the main question of the book, Jacob's grandfather and his history, was solved but with any series the ending left me with a  whole new set of questions.

I feel very optimistic for their future though. It is like they are going to war,  which really they are, but what that outcome is, is not determined yet. It's sort of like when his grandfather first left the Island as well. History is repeating itself but in a different way. I know all of that seems sort of vague but I don't want to give to much away. What happened was really nothing I expected even though there were a few hints earlier in the book.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Even though the whole novel is shrouded in mystery and I could not put it down I could not identify with any of the characters. I didn't really care to much about any of them or their relationships to each other and others. Sure some of them were more interesting then others but I just didn't really care to know everything I could about them. I am still looking forward to where Jacob's next quest will take him though.

MY RATING: 3 out of 5 stars

Monday, February 4, 2013

REVIEW: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

TITLE: Darkly Dreaming Dexter
AUTHOR: Jeff Lindsay
PUBLISHED: September 2006
GENRE: Fiction, Serial Killer, Suspense,
SERIES: Dexter #1
SETTING: Miami, Florida
WHERE I GOT IT: ebook borrow from the library

ABOUT BLURB: Dexter Morgan isn't what he seems. By day he works for the Miami Police Department as a blood splatter analyst, by night he is a killer. Except he only hunts and kills other serial killers. When the Miami Police start to track a serial killer Dexter takes notice but can he beat them to him and serve his own justice?

EXPECTATIONS: I had really high hopes for this book considering I LOVE the TV show. I watched all the seasons on Netflix again recently but since Netflix doesn't have the newest season yet I decided to try reading the series since I am starting to go through Dexter withdrawal.

CHARACTERS: It's really hard to judge the characters on how they appear in the book because I watched the show first. When I was reading this I pictured the actors from the show, their mannerisms and how they interpreted the character and that is how I saw the characters when I read it. That sort of sucks because I can't form my own opinion of the characters myself. Although I think if I had read the books first, then watched the show I still would probably picture the actors in their respective roles if I reread the books again anyways. It happened with the Sookie Stackhouse and Harry potter series as well.

Of course I found Dexter to be interesting considering what he does in the dark of night. I think Deb is my favourite in the show and in the books I can see some of what I love about her. But to me I feel like all characters fell flat for me. What I love about them from the show is there but it feels like it only scratches the surface of their personalities. Then again this is only the first book in the series so hopefully it will get better.

PLOT: I am going to have to say that I liked the plot better in the TV show but that might be because it was more flushed out then it was in the book. But that makes sense right, the show is 12 episodes long and if you just followed the book that probably would make for one boring and even shorter TV season. I still found the book interesting though because I really didn't know exactly what was going to happen or should I say how they were going to get to the conclusion since it does differ greatly from the show. That in itself was kind of nice since it almost feels like I am getting more information on Dexter and his world.

PACING: I found the pacing of the book to be odd. I found Dexter's character interesting enough but for some reason I feel like the story line was a bit too disjointed for my liking.

WHAT MADE ME THINK: Dexter is one of those characters you hate to love because after all he is a killer. His situation is one of those grey areas in life. Sure maybe all those people he murders deserve it for what they have done but does murder justify murder? I don't really think there is a clear answer to that question.

WHAT I LIKED: I really liked the concept of the book. I haven't read another story that has a main character quite like Dexter.

WHAT I HATED: I hated that by watching the show first it has ruined the book for me. Sure I still liked the idea and the setting but I was not able to form my own opinion on what the characters looked like since I couldn't get the actors from the show out of my mind. That really doesn't have anything to do with the way Jeff Lindsay wrote the book however.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I thought the book was okay. I found it to be a quick read and it does differ from the TV show that it was still interesting to read. However, I didn't love the book either. I will continue to read the series though to see if they get better.

RATING: 2 out of 5 stars