The Maze Runner by James Dashner

In September, there was a sudden barrage of advertisements for a new movie coming out; the Scorch Trials. This had sparked my interest, because I had already seen the Maze Runner, and I was excited to see the sequel, but as a general rule I read the books first. Except I could only faintly remember the details of the Maze Runner and I wanted to read the Scorch Trials before I watched the movie, so true to form I started reading the novel.

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This book definitely comes under the action genre- where we plunge straight into the plot, no explanations, and find ourselves being as confused and bewildered as some of the characters. There are confusing rules that make no sense, and then there are things which you know must have significance, but you have no idea why.

Although this isn’t strictly a mystery The Maze Runner could be one too; similar to the Hunger Games trilogy in some respects, teenagers are stuck in a confined area, but instead of fighting each other, they are working together to find a way out of a complex maze that confines them. The Maze Runner will compel you to solve the maze before a bunch of eclectic and unusual characters called Runners do. Like Thomas, the protagonist, you will soon get used to the queer lingo that has evolved in the Maze and is habitually used by everyone.

Thomas is an utterly reckless, yet likeable character, who has information hidden somewhere in his mind, just beyond reach, which could save the Glade. The Glade is an encampment at the centre of the maze which surrounds them. The maze is the only way to freedom for the Gladers, but escape seems far from attainable when a girl arrives at the Glade. And on that note, although the large majority of the characters are male, due to the nature of the Glade, The Maze Runner can appeal to anyone with a taste for thrillers, as well as action with a tinge of horror.

The Maze Runner makes you ask yourself questions. And not just because ambiguous hints about the novel that are dropped like a trail throughout, almost giving everything away, so that you are always left guessing, pondering, questioning, what could this mean? And who really are the ‘bad guys’ in this book, the antagonists? Is it the Grievers, who murder the unfortunate people who cross their paths, or is it bigger than that? Do the Grievers lack control over their bloodthirsty ways- are they being commanded by the people who put them in the maze? Nothing is clear until the last few pages, and even then lots of questions still remain unanswered, but because of those that are it is definitely worth the wait!

Quite gory, the Maze Runner isn’t for the faint-hearted, and the ending offers us a glimpse of what our world could be like, not today or tomorrow, but in several hundred years, if we don’t start caring for our planet. I haven’t watched the Scorch Trials yet, and most likely never will, but I will definitely search bookshelves for the novel.

 

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The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I had to read this book. I simply had to, because how else would I join in the bookclubesque chats that my friends had about the Miniaturist?  Well, I can safely say now that whenever the Miniaturist is brought up I can offer an honest opinion…

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The Miniaturist was a bold book with streaks of originality, with interesting and elusive characters that lit up the pages. I like that it offers you an insight of 17th Century Amsterdam, which I thought was an unusual idea. The plot is gripping, and certainly got me staying up late at night…

I loved the characters. I honestly think that Burton did an excellent job, hinting here and there surprising and occasionally mystifying hints about the characters. I think that it would have been interesting to see parts of the book written from the different points of the Brandt household, because each have such a rich history. However, it is written in third person. I think if Burton really did write it from multiple view points it could either be a complete success or an utter failure, because much of the whole atmosphere of the book relies on hidden secrets, and if it is from many viewpoints, that mystery may either be enhanced, or destroyed.

Nella Oortman, the protagonist, is a witty bride who has moved to Amsterdam from the countryside to start her new life. Nella barely knows her charming husband, Johannes Brandt, yet she has already envisioned a future for herself. However, upon her arrival at her new home she is met only by his icy, unfriendly sister, Marin. After her husband almost completely avoids her for the first few days at her new home, he gives her a gift, something to replace his absence and occupy her. A miniature version of her own home. Frustrated and bored, she sheepishly takes up the offer and furnishes her home, hiring a miniaturist to create objects to put in her dolls’ house. But then the miniaturist starts sending Nella things on their own accord, and they surprise her in more ways than one.

As the book progresses we see that Nella starts to become more mature as she reacts and learns from her experiences in Amsterdam, as she was sheltered from a lot of things by growing up in Assendelt. Slowly, she is integrated into the Brandt household, occasionally confused by the mannerisms of some of the people. The maid’s audaciousness, for example, complexes her, but as the novel progresses we realise that the Brandt household is not so much a household, but despite it’s limited number, more similar to society.

I thought that this was an awesome book and that you should read it if you’re up for something a bit edgy and despite it being set in the 17th century it still reflects modern times. Enjoy and let the haunting prose twist and turn through your thoughts, as well as learning something about the history of Amsterdam

The Taken by Inbali Iserles

The Taken is an imaginative, intriguing account of the struggles a city fox faces. With a twist. Just as Isla, and her twin Pirie learn how to navigate in their seemingly confusing world, they are ripped apart. And that is when Isla learns that magic is involved.

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I like how Iserles takes the viewpoint of Isla, because there are hundreds of books about cats and dogs but rarely one from the point of view of the much resented fox. I think that this is useful, not only because of it’s originality, but because when we read it we feel a lot of sympathy for Isla and the foxes. In today’s society, people often resent foxes, due to their often violent and murderous nature towards their livestock, or the way they raid bins!

It is common now in novels to see a magic theme, which adds another edge to the plot, and The Taken is no exception. My only issue with magic’s role in the plot was that it seemed slightly forced at times,but then again it was very well constructed and thought-through. So the idea that foxes can essentially shape-shift is a bit odd, but when we learn that they can only change into other canine forms it seems justified and almost natural.

Isla the main protagonist, a cheeky fox cub who has a strong relationship with her twin. I think that at times Iserles made it easy to connect and empathise with Isla, yet at other times, this wasn’t done as well as I’d hope. (Spoiler alert!) I feel that Iserles could have gone into Isla’s grief much more, because although I felt sad, it wasn’t due to Iserles writing, but more because of the awful fact that entire family had been murdered and only one lost soul was left. I think that part of the story has the potential to  provoke much emotion yet the potential wasn’t explored.

I’d say that the audience for this book would undoubtedly be younger readers, so about 8-12 year olds. This is because I think that the style of writing and the plot content isn’t what YA readers are looking for in a novel. This is not to say that the Taken isn’t a good book, or doesn’t have the potential to be successful, I just feel that it is suited to younger readers!

I think that The Taken is a fabulous book, with a great plot and I’m sure it’ll be successful! I read this book as part of my reading challenge; to read a book published in 2015.