Monday, March 28, 2016

The Maze Runner: Starting from Scratch

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I like lots of different kinds of books. Mysteries, science fiction, biographies, for instance. Adult and young adult. My daughter thought watching The Maze Runner movie would be interesting, so we found it at the local library and watched it. It was quite exciting. Then The Scorch Trials came to theaters and we had to catch it. It was entertaining as well. That hooked me on the series.

I bought the next two books in the series, The Death Cure and The Kill Order. As I started reading The Death Cure, I immediately felt lost.

Movies don't always track well with their original books. No big reveal there. And this was the case with picking up a book where its movie version left off.

To reorient myself for book three, I had to begin at the beginning, and so I found a copy of The Maze Runner at the local library and started from scratch.

There are parts of the movie that track well with the book. Main character Thomas's arrival and disorientation. His brotherly relationship with Chuck, his opposition from Alby and Gally, and his leadership qualities and incorporation as a Runner. All as examples. There are, however, larger issues of disagreement between the movie and the book. Details of the map room, the discovery of the Griever hole, how Teresa affects the whole Gladers community, and how Thomas and Teresa bring the Gladers out of the Maze.

The biggest divergence is in the conclusion. The Maze Runners the book ends before the movie does. And the movie has the Gladers remaining inside a building after they leave the Maze rather than being taken on a bus ride. It's after being in the building that they escape on their own.

I have yet to begin reading the second book, The Scorch Trials. I suspect The Maze, the movie, picks up some of the story line of The Scorch Trials as the end of its movie.

As a book, I really enjoyed The Maze Runner. It was well written, well paced, featured interesting characters, and was totally believable. The main characters were likable and sensibly created and realized through the narrative. Even minor characters were realistic and well placed in the story.

Dashner even managed to build a language for the characters that allowed them to speak like the teens they were without being offensive or foul, while still giving them an outlet for angst or anger or frustration in a setting that would have surely needed emotional venting.

At the same time, the narrative was at times visceral and provocative, portraying a scary world in which kids were unleashed in a deadly future, expected to perform in a game-like world to save their lives in a scenario in which - they knew not - that they likely couldn't win.

Manipulated to lose their memories and then sent into a test ground, the last two teens were released into a group of other youths to set off the final test. A test they had themselves set up. And in the final test, everyone in that group would either succeed or fail in the attempt. Live or die.

It was a compelling read from beginning to end. A journey of faith in the author to bring you to the end in one sane piece and in the characters to help you retain your faith in humanity.

Now I can't wait to begin reading The Scorch Trials and then the next two books. Their book reviews to come.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Another Voyage, a Different Dream: Sailing Yarn of the Mind

Book Review: Another Voyage, a Different Dream by Richard Twillman

I began reading this book with one perception and ended it with quite another.

As a fan of sailing adventures - in particular, Napoleon-era age of sail sagas - I love a good sea yarn. More recently I've enjoyed more modern tales of sailing adventures, recently reading The Vega Adventures by Shane Granger and now Another Voyage, a Different Dream by Richard Twillman.

Another Voyage is really quite another voyage. It starts out with a young man who loves life aboard a beautiful sailboat, where he lives, by and large by the circumstances of his life. When that is threatened, he decides to take off for parts unknown and - he hopes - undiscoverable. But then he meets up with a man and woman who take him on a different kind of voyage than he could ever have imagined. It gradually changes from a sea adventure to an escape into mysticism, which in the end saves him.

Author Twillman takes the reader on a well-crafted journey across the sea, among tropical islands, and through the mind. At times you aren't certain where he is headed, but you want to keep reading to see where he will take you, moved by his narrative and the images he paints through his vivid language.

If you like a good sea tale, or if you enjoy sailing yarns, this book would be a good read. If you're into  voyages of the mind, you likely will enjoy this read, too. It's available both on and