• Dystopia, Music, Werewolves and the Apocalypse, oh my!

    Date: 2012.11.20 | Category: Books | Tags:

    Time for another book, er, books review. I’m breaking these up into two parts because it was overwhelmingly long as one post.

    The Scorch Trials/ The Death Cure by James Dashner

    These are books two and three in the Maze Runner trilogy. I posted the first book in my last book review.

    The Scorch Trials was an amazing follow up to The Maze Runner. The mystery intensified, the characters endured more weirdness and hardship, all the while more clues to the overall picture were dropped. Two new dynamic characters were introduced, and there was a shocking betrayal and  grand finale that had me staying up late to finish.

    Which is why I was so disappointed when The Death Cure fell flat. The final installment lacked the mystery and charisma of the first two, and was plagued with repetitive, stretched out passages with some unnecessary scenes. To cap it off, the ending was rushed and the surprise part of the ending was done without much ceremony and seemed kind of pointless. And the worst part? Most of the questions that were posed over the first two books were never answered leaving me frustrated and unhappy with the conclusion. The fun in the first two books was replaced with a badly written zombie apocalypse that seemed out of place.

    Bottom Line: The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials are crazy good and worth your time, but the final installment is a big disappointment without any real answers and almost not worth the energy to plow through.

    The Kill Order by James Dashner

    This was the prequel to the Maze Runner series. I turned to it in hopes it would answer all my burning questions from the trilogy. What I found instead was a completely different and almost entirely unrelated story. And while it had a few good characters, the story ended up being so repetitive and sad that I couldn’t enjoy this book at all.

    Bottom Line: If you’re looking for answers from The Maze Runner trilogy, don’t bother. In fact, this book is so repetitive and sad that if you’re looking for a good YA dystopian book, ask me and I’ll give you a list of better books.

    A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

    I had heard so much about this book and its many awards, so when I saw it on sale, I picked it up. The novel reads more like a collection of stories that are vaguely connected and all lead back to the music industry from it’s glory days to it’s evolving production of cookie cutter pop songs. But it’s weird. For example, amidst the story of the rise and downfall of a book music professional’s personal and professional life, there is a story about a washed up PR professional trying to make good press for an accused terrorist, the story of a girl who is a clepto and a story about a kid who counts pauses in songs. Some of the stories were really good, and some were just really bad. If each of the stories could have sustained the weird and interesting plot lines like the first two chapters had, it would have been a good book, but unfortunately almost all the stories after those were disappointing.

    Bottom Line: I don’t get what all the hype and awards are about. Maybe I’m missing something. At least the author builds weird and interesting characters.

    Mercy Thompson Series (all six of them) by Patricia Briggs

    I’ve seen Roxie say before that she judges books by their cover, despite the fact that many of them are misrepresented. I feel the same about the Mercy Thompson series. The covers are provocative with a tattooed, half dressed woman on the cover. When I saw it, I rolled my eyes and moved on. But then I kept seeing the books get 4-5 star reviews consistently and realized it was written by a female author, which gave me hope that it wasn’t some overly sexualized male fantasy. So I gave the first one a chance, and I’m so glad I did. This series reminds me of the Sookie Stackhouse books (in their good days), except that they are better written with more serious plot lines. The story is told from the perspective of Mercy Thompson, who is an auto mechanic and a “walker” who can shift to coyote form and see ghosts. She gets entangled with a mystery surrounding the local werewolf pack, and the story evolves from there. All six books follow supernatural and compelling mysteries, and the characters are interesting. As Susan said after I introduced her to them, “I had to make myself stop after reading three of them because I wasn’t getting anything else done.” Of course, the writing isn’t exactly sophisticated, but all six of the books in these series are addictive and fun.

    Bottom line: If you liked the Sookie books but want something better in the wake of their recent decline, pick these up for a fun, supernatural read.

    Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

    I love Neil Gaiman so much and I like almost all of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books I’ve read, so this one was a no brainer for me. It’s the story of the Apocalypse gone wrong from the perspective of an incompetent angel and demon who have become friends over the thousands of years they’ve been on earth together. In true Pratchett style, most of it is funny and I found myself actually laughing out loud on some parts. That being said, it didn’t live up to what I had hoped in my mind. Gaiman’s imaginative storytelling just isn’t there in its usual dark, beautiful form, and it helps to be familiar with Britishisms when reading. And while I don’t think it’s the best of either author, it made me laugh and I can’t in good conscience say bad things about the two authors I love so much. That being said, please don’t read this first and assume this is like either authors’ other works.

    Bottom line: Think the end of the world is nigh and need a good laugh about it all? This is your book. Also good for people who love British culture and think American fast food is killing the world.

    To be continued tomorrow…