Thursday, January 28, 2010

Maze Runner by James Dashner

I'm finally getting around to reviewing Maze Runner by James Dashner. On my side table I usually have 5 or 6 books of different genres I'm reading at one time.
After I read James' book, I immediately picked up another book to read, like I normally do.
It was okay but I didn't feel it was worth my time right then so I closed the book.
I picked up another book the next day and couldn't identify with the character. Shut the book.
On my third book I read about 3 chapters and returned it to the library.
Where are the good books? I wondered. Why can't I find another book with layered plots and twists and characters?
That is what James Dashner has done to me, folks; he's ruined my light reading. After reading Maze Runner, I found I was easily dissatisfied with the books on my side table. So I took a break from reading for TWO weeks ( thanks a ton, James!).

I haven't read a book quite like Maze Runner.
I take that back.
I've read books on apocalyptic days.
I've read books about kids stuck on an island/forest/town and have to learn to govern themselves and try to get home.
I've read books were a kid is called on to save the world/planet/universe only he didn't know that's what he was doing.
And all the above are in Mr. Dashner's book, only different.

Thomas wakes up in an elevator traveling upwards and the only thing he can remember is his name. Other boys have been sent to the Glade but they have no idea why. Everyday doors open to a maze and a handful of boys run it, bringing back a map in their head of what the section they ran.
The boys have learned survival. Some cook, some bag and bury dead bodies and some run.
Everything changes when a girl is sent to up in the elevator with a message.

I like to figure out the twists before they happen. I figured out the twist in Sixth Sense a fourth of the way into the movie. Dashner strung my prideful-self out as I smugly figured out a twist in the plot than BAM! He twisted it again. I figured out the maze, then James added another layer to it. I figured out the Grievers then he added a twist. I figured out the serum early but I'm sure there is more of twist to that too. I also figured out the ending but not the twist before it. And my prideful-self has made a few predictions in book #2...
Oh! I didn't figure out the names until I read the explanation in the book. Liked it! I'm glad James didn't put that bit of info early in the book or it might have distracted me (there are a few names I still don't understand so if I get the chance I'll ask James about them).

The book is dark. I hated reading about the pain and death the boys went through. And I was frustrated right alongside them. Why were they there? Who put them there? And why were their memories erased?
One negative; I got tired of reading the word 'shuck'. Too close another word which I figured was intentional.
I liked the way James ended the book. Not a major cliff hanger like Hunger Games (I threw that book across my bed when I read the end). James was nice enough to let his readers down slowly but with a good hook at the very end.
I'm not sure I can say I'm anxiously waiting for book #2 because it will ruin my reading habits for a few weeks AND I will wonder what twists and turns James will take me on again. I might wait for #3 to come out too before I finish the trilogy...

Here's a link to the game! Maze Runner Missions

Monday, January 25, 2010

Flotsam by David Wiesner

Let me just start by saying I'm the only one in my family that LOVES I Spy books. I have to restrain myself from buying the computer versions too.
So, Flotsam by David Wiesner was a book that appealed to me because of the detail in the pictures. And the story was appealing and fun to 'read'.

A young boy and his parents spend a day at the beach. While the boy is exploring, a big wave washes a camera onto the beach (notice the brand of the camera). As the reader and boy look at the developed pictures together, they discover a new underwater world.

I'm not surprised it was 2007 winner of the Caldecott Medal.

A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam--anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there's no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share . . . and to keep.

In each of his amazing picture books, David Wiesner has revealed the magical possibilities of some ordinary thing or happening--a frog on a lily pad, a trip to the Empire State Building, a well-known nursery tale. This time, a day at the beach is the springboard into a wildly imaginative exploration of the mysteries of the deep, and of the qualities that enable us to witness these wonders and delight in them.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

What if? Why not? Could it be? When a fortuneteller's tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller's mysterious answer (an elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true. With atmospheric illustrations by fine artist Yoko Tanaka, here is a dreamlike and captivating tale that could only be narrated by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo. In this timeless fable, she evokes the largest of themes — hope and belonging, desire and compassion — with the lightness of a magician’s touch.

I enjoyed reading this story out loud to my children. The way Ms. DiCamillo strings words and sentences together was, dare I say, lyrical?
She introduced people and animals throughout her magical book that all have something in common; they are affected by an elephant.
A policeman with a large mustache, a Countess, a blind dog, a soldier, an orphaned boy, and many other unique characters in the city of Baltese expect the elephant to "somehow deliver them ... make their wishes and hopes and desires come true".
What if? Why not? are questions that are always a breath away. And the impossible becomes possible.
Ms. DiCamillo introduced new characters throughout the book, almost to the very end. I wondered how each character was part of the story, how each story would weave together and how they would resolve in the end.
I wasn't disappointed. Though, I will admit my children got a little restless waiting to see if Peter found his sister and how the elephant helped. Well, I can't blame it on just the kids. I was anxious for the ending too. But I enjoyed the smooth ride getting there.

"It is, after all, a wonderful thing to dream of an elephant," she said to Leo," and then to have the dream come true."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Plot Twists & Crazy Realities-The Hunt For Dark Infinity

WARNING: Make sure to secure use of an oxygen tank while reading this book.

James Dashner's 2nd book in the 13th Reality series will leave you breathless as you lose yourself in plot twists, character surprises and alien worlds.

Tick, Paul and Sofia are called called upon again to help Master George. Soon, their lives are in peril as they are'winked' from one Reality to another. Every Reality they land in, there is a riddle to solve and always, danger.

Who is winking them around and why?

A diabolical plot to figure out and a mad man who must be stopped. Does the trio have what it takes?

Dashner gives us another book full of lively characters, good and bad, each with their own voice.

At times I was a little dizzy trying to figure out the Realities and riddles, magic and reality, and sometimes, who is really the bad guy.

This is the blurb from the book:

It s been a quiet summer for Tick, Paul, and Sofia, but the latest message from Master George changes everything. The Realities are in danger and from something more terrible than Mistress Jane and the mutated Chi karda of the Thirteenth Reality. People from all Realities are unexplainably going insane. Worse, some Realities are fragmenting, disintegrating into nothingness. Master George has learned that Mr. Chu from the Fourth Reality is working on a mysterious new weapon called Dark Infinity. But no one has any idea how to stop the weapon or even if it can be stopped. To make matters worse, Tick and his friends have been kidnapped, forced to wink from Reality to Reality, solving impossible riddles in order to survive the deadly traps surrounding them. Mistress Jane and Tick findthemselves in a race to reach the weapon first but who will destroy it and who will become its master?

Friday, January 15, 2010