The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner | Delacorte, 2009

James Dashner’s The Maze Runner has received some attention as of late thanks to its relatively successful film adaptation. A fact I’m aware of because I am, quite possibly, the only 31-year-old male who watches the star, Dylan O’Brien, on MTV’s Teen Wolf. I find this fact only mildly embarrassing. I read Dashner’s newer science fiction novel, The Eye of Minds, not too long ago and while I wasn’t enamored with the novel I at least found it enjoyable. I have similar feelings towards Dashner’s The Maze Runner.

Looking at the Young Adult/Teen novel market I consistently get the impression that its primary audience is female. From an anecdotal perspective I get the impression that females, by and large, a willing to read a broader spectrum of novels then males. Indeed the very fact that there is an entire body of academic work on young male literacy, and at least two popular movement dedicated towards advancing literacy in boys (check out Jon Scieszka’s Guys Read for an excellent example) sheds light on why teen novels seem to trend towards a more female audience. I am perhaps a little off topic here but novels like The Maze Runner, with its almost entirely male cast, are the exception in the teen world particularly when looking at teen speculative fiction.

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Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman
HarperFestival, 2008 (audiobook edition)

A children’s book for adults? An adult book for children? A children’s book with some mature themes? It is difficult to describe precisely where Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book falls with regards to audience. Truth is it is one of those rare volumes that defies any one particular label. It is one of those books I feel like parent and child should experience together. The Graveyard Book is a bildungsroman very much in the tradition of Dickens. The young boy whose family is murdered is adopted by the ghosts of a nearby graveyard, christened Nobody Owens (or Bod to his friends), and raised by this strange new family. Nobody is looked after by someone who may or may not be a vampire, taught by a werewolf (or Hound of God), and even dance with the Pale Lady herself.

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Review: 7th Sigma by Steven Gould

7th Sigma by Stephen Gould
7th Sigma by Stephen Gould

7th Sigma
Steven Gould
Tor, 2011

Steven Gould is perhaps best known for his novel Jumper originally released in 1992 and later adapted into a film in 2008. I found the film enjoyable if somewhat forgettable and regrettable only in that it managed to line the pockets of Hayden Christensen. Burried in a box of ARCs from Baker and Taylor I found Gould’s most recent novel, 7th Sigma, and immediately cued in on the idea giant metal eating bugs.

In 7th Sigma a plague of metal devouring bugs of mysterious origin overran the American southwest some 50 years ago. The government cordoned off the region with a bug-repelling barrier and the area, now known as the Territory, has become something a no-man’s land populated by the stubborn, the hardened, and often the unwanted. Our story, or stories depending on how you look at it, center around the irascible rapscallion known as Kimble. Kimble, a young teen, has been surviving on his own in the Territory ever since his drunk of father passed away using his wits and martial arts skills to say on the up and up. Life still isn’t easy and he quickly latches onto Ruth Munroe, a pioneer type setting out set up a new Aikido dojo.

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Outside the Wheelhouse: Evermore by Alyson Noel

Evermore by Alyson Noel
Evermore by Alyson Noel

Evermore (The Immortals Book 1)
Alyson Noel
St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009

OK, don’t judge me. Well, at least not yet. I’d light to thing that my earlier reviews of certain titles by Stephanie Meyer set some precedent here but maybe that’s thinking too much. Regardless, sometimes I get curious about what people other than myself look to read. And when a title in terms of cover design and general plot outline resembles another series so much my curiosity becomes a thing to fear. I fought it for a long time but not so long ago, on a whim, I snatched up Alyson Noel’s Evermore (the first book in her Immortal series). Its resemblance to Twilight is undeniable and like Twilight it isn’t exactly the most sparkling bit of prose you’ll read. On the other hand, in terms of plot and character it exceeds its YA cousin in many degrees. Alas, its basic similarity to Meyer’s work (mostly superficial) is also its greatest detriment and the shadow cast by Meyer’s certainly taints one’s perception of Noel’s series.

Evermore opens as teenage Ever is living with her aunt after her family is killed in a car crash. In addition to taking the life of her family, and nearly her own, Ever is left with some residual gifts due to her near death experience: telepathy and the ability to see and talk with her little sister’s ghost. A popular girl turned somewhat reclusive due to her new abilities she hides from the world behind a pair of earphones and a seemingly endless supply of baggy sweatshirts (skin contact enhances her abilities). Of course all that changes with the entrance of Mysterious and Impossibly Attractive Edwar Damen. Of course Ever can’t hear Damen’s thoughts (the inverse of a certain other relationship if I’m remembering correctly). Ever is drawn into Damen’s strange existence and as more information comes to light the nature of Damen and Ever’s relationship becomes increasingly bizarre.

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