Review: The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner

Title: The Maze Runner Trilogy
Author: James Dashner
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
 (Overall rating of the series)

I’ve never done a review for an entire series at once before, but I figured that would be the best way to do this one. I bought The Maze Runner about two months before I actually read it, and I was nervous about reading it. I had really high expectations because I know a lot of people that love these books, and I didn’t want it to be a let down. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the first book of the series all that much until I was near the end.

Without giving too much away, I’ll try to tell you what the series is about, since the Goodreads descriptions are for each book separately. The Maze Runner series focuses on a sixteen year-old named Thomas. One day, he wakes up in a lift where he can’t remember anything at all about his past other than his first name. He isn’t alone, however. There are others who are just like him, who woke up in “The Glade” and didn’t remember anything. They’re also all boys. The Glade is in the middle of a giant maze with stone doors that close at night so that “Grievers,” which are basically giant slugs with mechanical arms, can’t get in at night. The day after Thomas arrives, a girl is sent into The Glade. A girl has never been sent to the maze before, and usually the boys arrive a month apart from each other. More surprising, though, is the message that she has been sent to deliver. Thomas and the other boys have to find a way out of the maze.

If I tell you any more than that, it would ruin the entire series, so there’s just your basic premise. I will tell you, though, that the rest of the series doesn’t take place inside the maze. We get to see what the rest of the world is like, which I liked a lot about the sequels. Honestly, I didn’t like the first book much at all. I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads. At times, I got bored with all of the descriptions that Dashner gave. It almost felt like he had a certain amount of pages he HAD to fill, and so instead of giving us more things happening, he gives us endless descriptions of things that I honestly didn’t care about. On top of that, the characters never really made me like them (in the first book, anyway). I loved the ending though, so I knew I had to read the rest of the series.

The Scorch Trials was MUCH better than the first book, in my opinion. I can’t really give a description of what happens because it would spoil the first book, SO I’ll just say that I really loved some of the new characters that were introduced (Unpopular Opinion: Brenda was a MUCH better female protagonist than Teresa). The story was MUCH more entertaining than The Maze Runner as well. It still took a little while for me to really get into this one, but not nearly as long as the first one.

The Death Cure was my favorite in the series. It has the lowest rating on Goodreads, and I honestly don’t understand why. I felt like it was the perfect ending to the series. I think the reason I liked it so much more than the others was because we got to see the world outside of WICKED’s control, and by this point I had finally warmed up to most of the characters.

Overall, I enjoyed this series, especially after I started liking the characters. It’s not my favorite series, by any means (that’s a tie between The Hunger Games and Divergent), but I do think that it was a nice read. I definitely recommend that you guys check it out if you haven’t already. If you can’t get into the first book, don’t fret, because they definitely get better as they go!

The prequel to this series, The Kill Order, was released this week. I’ve already bought it, but I have a couple of other books I need to finish first. I’ll be sure to let you know what I think of it!

Review: Starters by Lissa Price

Title: Starters
Series: Starters, Book #1
Author: Lissa Price
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, March 13, 2012
Hardcover, 352 pages

Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie’s only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie’s head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator’s grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations’ plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined. . . .
(From Goodreads)

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything (sorry about that!), but I wanted this book to be my next review, and after I finished I couldn’t put my thoughts into words. But now I’m going to try: This book was absolutely amazing.

Not often do I not get distracted from a book. This book kept me on my toes, and made me want to keep reading and keep reading until there wasn’t anything left to read. It ended with a HUGE twist (like, seriously, WHOA.), and left lots of things open for a sequel, which by the way I can’t WAIT for! It did leave me questioning a few things that I do wish would’ve been explored a little bit more, though.

My biggest and pretty much only problem with Starters was that the Spore Wars were never explained. It never told what caused them. It never told exactly what the spores did to you body. And it left me really interested. I wish there would’ve been even a paragraph or two more just to explain all of this, because I’d really like to know. I also wondered how people were able to stay alive so long (There are 200 year olds!). I wish a little bit of the science behind it all could’ve been explained more.

One thing that I either wish there was more of, or just not there at all were the Cinderella references. I actually don’t even know if they were intentional, but I definitely picked up on them throughout. I haven’t seen mention of this in any other reviews though, so maybe I overanalyzed.

I honestly loved every single character in this book. Even the bad guy, “The Old Man.”(Whose identity, by the way, I have a theory about! I’ll have to wait and find out in the next book if I’m correct, but I have interesting thoughts.) I thought all of the characters were fleshed out extremely well, and I couldn’t help but be invested in all of them.

I’d definitely recommend this book. It might be my favorite book that I’ve reviewed YET!

Review: Surrender by Elana Johnson

Title: Surrender
Series: Possession, Book #2
Author: Elana Johnson
Published by Simon Pulse, June 5, 2012
Hardcover, 469 pages

So instead of telling you the plot of the book like I normally would, I’m just going to post the Goodreads description, because it’s better than anything I could come up with.

Forbidden love, intoxicating power, and the terror of control…

Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father’s rules: He’s the Director. It’s because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent—a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.

All of that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine’s got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can’t. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi’s boyfriend, Zenn. Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine’s father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She’s even starting to suspect Vi’s secrets might involve Freedom’s newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque….

Okay, so that’s a little bit misleading, because Raine is really more of a rebel than Gunn is. But whatever. The description also doesn’t really tell about Gunn’s part in the story, which I think it should include since he is one of the narrators.

I enjoyed Surrender SO much more than Possession. Most of the problems that I had with Possession were not present in Surrender. I felt more connected with the story and the characters in this book than I did with the first. I also liked that Johnson changed it up a little and gave us new lead characters. Because of that, though, this is more of a companion than a sequel, even though it does follow up on Vi, Jag, and Zenn, and they play a major part in what happens, especially towards the end.

I LOVED Raine and Gunn. I loved that instead of just one side of the story, we got to see two different perspectives of what was happening. Usually books with two different narrators annoy me, but that didn’t happen in Surrender. I think it worked well for the story.

There’s not as much of a love triangle in Surrender as there was in Possession, which I was thankful for. I wanted to like Jag, Vi, and Zenn in Possession, but never warmed up to them. In this book, I ended up liking all three of them. I think Johnson definitely worked to make them more relatable, and it helped a lot. My complaint about Thane Myers not being evil enough in Possession was fixed here with his even-more-evil boss, Director Hightower. In general I don’t have any really big complaints about Surrender like I did with Possession. I do wish that the world building would’ve been a bit stronger, but it was already stronger than in Possession, so maybe it’ll get even better in the next book (is there a next book? I hope so!).

Surrender is loads better than Possession, so if you read Possession and liked it, or even if you just sort-of-kind-of liked it, then I definitely recommend reading this one!

Surrender is in stores today!

Review: Possession by Elana Johnson

Title: Possession
Series: Possession, Book #1
Author: Elana Johnson
Originally published by Simon Pulse, June 7, 2011, Paperback May 8, 2012
Paperback, 432 pages

For the first 100-or-so pages of Possession, I didn’t think I was going to like it. I couldn’t get into the writing style that Johnson used at all. The story was just kind of blah. I kept getting confused with their tech-talk. But then about halfway through I started really getting into it and I read the second half in one sitting.

Possession is set in the future where there are “Goodies” who are basically mind-controlled by the Thinkers and “Baddies” who are criminals (except not really, they just don’t follow the ridiculous rules set by the Thinkers, and therefore get banished). The main character, Vi, is in love/matched with Zenn. She get’s caught walking with him one night in the park, and is sent to prison. There, she meets Jag, a Baddie. And she falls in love with him. YAY LOVE TRIANGLES. Vi finds out from Jag that she may be more special than she ever could’ve guessed. I won’t say anything else about the story, because I’m afraid I’d spoil it!

If you’re not a love triangle fan, this definitely is NOT the book for you. That’s one of the major parts of the story, and where most of Vi’s conflicting emotions come from. The other main conflict of the book is with Thane Meyers, who wants Vi to come work with him as a Thinker. I really felt like he could’ve been a much stronger villain than he was. He was almost there, but I felt like he needed a little something more to push him over the edge and make him even more ominous. He could’ve been just as evil as President Snow in The Hunger Games, but Johnson didn’t take him that far, and a part of me really wishes she would’ve.

I had problems throughout with liking the characters. Vi was okay when she wasn’t trying to be snarky. I never really cared for either of her love interests, though, which was disappointing because I WANTED to like Jag, but it just didn’t happen. I also think at the beginning of the book, the reader shouldn’t have been just automatically thrown into the action. There should’ve been a bit of relationship establishment between Vi and Zenn, and even Vi and her mom. I just felt like I never really got to know Zenn and so I never thought they’d end up together. It also would’ve been nice to have a little bit of background on the technology and how it works. I never fully understood that. Just one or two chapters at the beginning could’ve easily solved both of those problems, but it didn’t happen.

Overall, I liked this book. I didn’t LOVE it as much as I wanted to, but it was still a nice read. The sequel, Surrender, is released on Tuesday! I went to Barnes & Noble today and they had it out already, so I’m going to start it later tonight! Hopefully it’ll be at least as good, if not better, as Possession!

Recently Bought & To-Read

No review today, but I did want to give you a little preview of  what’s coming up, and my thoughts about them!

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
I bought this today! I saw is a while back at Barnes & Noble and absolutely loved the cover. After I finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgentern, this was recommended as similar, so I’m super excited to read it!

Posession by Elana Johnson
Also bought this today! I’ve been hearing good things about this book since it was released, so I finally decided to give it a shot! Plus, the sequel, Surrender, comes out soon and I want to be prepared for that!

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
I’ve had this one laying around for a while. I actually started it last night, but I wasn’t getting into it all that much. I may put it down for now, but I’ll probably come back to it at some point!

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
I bought this the day it came out in January 2011. I was SO excited to read it. One of my friends asked to borrow it before I even started it, and she JUST gave it back to me this week, so I’ve definitely got to get going on this one, because I was excited to read it even when I first bought it!

Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth
Published by Harper Teen, May 1, 2012
Hardcover, 525 pages

Here’s a bit of a newer read than the last review! Insurgent is the sequel to Divergent, which was released in 2011. If you haven’t read Divergent, I highly recommend doing so! I’ll try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible for those who haven’t read either of the books.

My friend Haley recommended Divergent to me last summer. I read it right away and fell in love. The characters are extremely well written, the story is enticing, and the writing is phenomenal. I couldn’t WAIT to get my hands on Insurgent. I was counting down the days ever since the release date was announced!

Just to get you up to speed, Divergent is about a girl named Tris Prior, who lives in a future Chicago where the population is separated into factions. When a person turns 16, they take a test to see which faction they are best suited for. Most people just get one faction as their test result, but Tris’ results are inconclusive—making her Divergent, which the government finds dangerous. Throughout the book, Tris must hide her Divergency and go through with initiation with the faction that she chooses. She falls in love with her instructor, Four. Societal problems ensue.

When the latest installment was released, I went to Barnes & Noble first thing that morning, and read about half of it in the first day (and it was finals week… Woops!). Insurgent is just that good.
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