“The Death Cure” by James Dashner (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2011)

Death Cure
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In the final book of the Maze Runner trilogy, James Dashner brings readers once again to a whole new part of his world, this time a look into an actual city outside of WICKED, where readers finally get to see if what they’ve been told so far is at all true and how harsh this Flare virus really is.  Just as with Maze Runner and Scorch Trials, Dashner continues to delve out one surprise and plot twist after another, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat with sheer excitement.

Thomas is now on the outside with the Gladers that are still alive, having been told by WICKED that the trials are over and the time for lies is no longer; now it’s time to see if all this work was worth it.  But he’s sick of waiting around for something that might or might not happen, and will the help of some others, they flee the WICKED confines for a slice of the real, Flare-ridden world.  It is a harsh place of haves and have nots, where society is crucially divided by those who are infected or not.  Then there are those, like Thomas, who are immune and are hated by some, revered by others.  But as the Gladers memories are given back to them, Thomas starts to remember a lot more than WICKED expected, and knows what he was involved in, which horrifies him, as he finally comprehends what WICKED is truly about.  As things come to a climax and Thomas realizes now what he must do, he must make the ultimate decision.

For the first three quarters of The Death Cure, the surprise and action is going at full steam, and as it approaches the end, things wind down a little and the finale arrives and is revealed.  It seems a little anticlimactic, after this lengthy build-up of three books that may leave some readers wondering: “Wait, why did they go through all this again?”  Nevertheless, for other readers it will feel satisfying and complete.

Originally written on April 24, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Death Cure from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Scorch Trials” by James Dashner (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010)

Scorch Trials
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In the sequel to the interesting Maze Runner, James Dashner takes readers to a whole new level of his dystopian world, where they get to see what’s going on beyond the “maze,” and what state the world is really in.  The Scorch Trials continues to do what its predecessor did so well: build up moments to big surprises, and continue to do this throughout the book so that the reader has no idea what’s going to happen next.

At the end of the last book, it was revealed that the whole “maze thing” was a grand experiment to find out who of these children would be the possible savior of the human race.  Now everyone thinks the work is done and they can finally go back to having a normal sense of life, especially Thomas; also they might finally find out about their families and their past.  But this doesn’t happen, as the group soon finds themselves left alone once more, and this time they are challenged to travel a great distance in a specific amount of time.  They are running both against the clock and against the other “girl group,” where whoever wins will be allowed to survive and live.  They must now travel across this scorched land, which has been blighted over time by sun flares, while the virus known as the Flare has ravaged the population.  There are also these zombie-like people known as Cranks, at a stage of infection far along with the virus, who present a formidable obstacle to the group.  Now Thomas will have to use what he has learned in the maze, as well as the knowledge he already has to get them all through this alive, somehow.

The Scorch Trials does what a good sequel should do, in ratcheting up the tension and the fear, as readers don’t know who is going to make it to the end, and who will be left dead in the dirt.  It’s a harsh world, and this is supposedly all being done to find the perfect human being who will save them all, at least according to WICKED.  Dashner continues to deliver plot twists and cliffhangers that will have readers gripping the pages to the very end and then anxiously awaiting the conclusion in The Death Cure.

Originally written on April 23, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Scorch Trials from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“The Maze Runner” by James Dashner (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2009)

Maze Runner
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One of the first books of the dystopian tsunami to come out shortly after The Hunger Games, this first book in the trilogy is an interesting one that does a great job of exploring what a bunch of teenage boys stuck together would be like, how they would act around each other, and what happens to them in dangerous situations.  The Maze Runner is done in the style of Lord of the Flies with a great what if?

Thomas wakes up to find himself in an elevator.  He doesn’t remember anything about his past or how he got where he is; all he remembers is his name.  The elevator reaches its destination and the doors open to reveal a strange world filled with a bunch of teenage boys.  They’ve been here for some time, some at least two years, with no knowledge of how they got there or why.  They have food and shelter provided for them, and each day the mighty gates open up to reveal the maze.  In this society everyone has a job; the runners are the ones who spend their days going around the maze looking for a way out.

It doesn’t take Thomas long to make friends, but also to make enemies, and it’s always a big competition.  Thomas wants to be a runner, but one can’t simply just become one, that is until Thomas makes the decision to help two boys stuck outside at night when the gates close, and there are machines out there and they’re hungry; no one has ever made it back alive overnight.  There’s also the strange fact that a new boy arrives every thirty days, only now for the first time a girl has arrived, and Thomas has a feeling he knows her; he also feels like he’s somehow been to this place before, which just seems impossible.

Dashner does a great job of starting with an interesting idea and building and building on it, to keep the reader completely hooked and wanting to know what’s going to happen next, right up until the very last page.  He also plays around with the dynamic of a bunch of teenage boys living together and making decisions for each other really well, where fights often break out, as boys will be boys.

Originally written on April 9, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Maze Runner from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Gay Characters in Young Adult Books

In a column I published in May, “Doing What’s Right,” I talked about the eventual cancellation of a young adult anthology, Wicked Pretty Things, edited by Trisha Telep.  Due to Telep wanting one of the stories “straightened,” many authors and readers began to spread the word on this, which led to the end of the anthology.

The publishing world seems to be stepping its foot in it once again, when two known authors — Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown — were trying to publish a young adult novel with gay characters and were told by an agent that it would not get published because of this.   Here is Rose Fox’s article at Publisher’s Weekly on this.

And now word is spreading through mainstream media, on blogs, and just about everywhere.  The Guardian even did an article recently on the matter.  Cleolinda on her blog, Occupation:Girl, has done a great job of covering the back and forth and linking everyone has done since the article was published.  Nicola Griffth, the bestselling author, had a great post on her blog.  Malinda Lo has also done a great job of posting important stats on this subject.  And the other N. K. Jemisin has also weighed in with her thoughts.

There is no easy answer here.  What’s impressive about it is how quickly and easily everyone can share the links and information and provide their own commentary and thoughts and opinions.  Smith and Brown had originally kept the identity of the particular agent secret, and said agent then chose not to.

While it may not have been their original intention, at the very least this had brought this important subject that needs to be addressed to the forefront of publishing and the internet.