The Blurb on Other People’s Words – Mazes and Morals

August 16, 2011 at 12:05 am (Reviews, writing)

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 1) – by James Dashner

Let me preface this review by saying that if the cover had made it clear that this was part 1 of 3, I may not have been disappointed by the ending. When I begin a book that’s not going to be conclusive, I prefer to know that going into it, but there was no real warning here.

That being said, until the last few chapters, I would have rated this book five stars. It had crisp, clear narrative and comfortable dialogue. The story had a lot of action and mystery. The characters were interesting and the major characters stood out. Some of the minor characters blended together, but the ones who mattered had well-defined personalities and plenty of character strengths and personality flaws. My only minor complaint was I felt the chapters were too short and in a couple of instances, I was just getting into a scene when it was cut short by the ending of a chapter. Maybe I should have drawn a clue about the book ending from that.

The story follows Thomas who suddenly finds himself, without memories intact, in a mysterious glade inhabited only by other boys. They have their own lingo and lifestyle that revolves around trying to escape their little world. The belief is that the answer lies within the Maze, a place full of dangers and distractions. There are rules to be followed however. Only the Runners get to run the Maze during the day, and if you get trapped in there at night, you’re as good as dead, a likely victim of the Grievers.

Thomas wants to be Runner. He needs to understand the Maze and everything about it seems vaguely familiar. Introduce other strange happenings: the arrival of the area’s first girl, and unconscious at that, boys remembering Thomas during the Changing, a negative side-effect of a close call with a Griever, and Thomas’s inexplicable knowledge of the maze – and the mystery intensifies.

I’d like to say I’m stopping here to avoid spoilers, but truthfully, this first book leaves far too many unresolved plot threads to allow for much in the way of spoilers. I have no problem with several dangling plot threads to allow for a sequel, but I didn’t feel I was given enough answers from a trustworthy source to conclude the body of this book’s story properly.

Would I recommend this book –certainly, but be advised you should be prepared to commit to reading the entire trilogy. This book alone will just leave you hanging.

Soup of Souls – Edited by Stephen W. Roberts & S. E. Cox

Here is another anthology in which I was fortunate to have a story published, but must exclude it from my review. There were many positive aspects about this anthology from Panic Press. I loved the novel theme of horror tales with a moralistic twist. I found some tales pulled it off very well, like Angel Propps’ First Stone which wove the tale around its moral, while for others it was a stretch. The variety in the stories was excellent, but I did find the editing a little weak in places.

The anthology opens with a very bold choice – a story written in second person narrative. I think I would have been okay with this decision if there had been no supernatural element introduced into the tale – it worked for me until that point, but at the moment the realism of the tale was questionable, second person lost its appeal. I think this story would have been better suited to a more central place in the anthology instead.

I preferred the stories that strayed from the traditional fables, redone with an infusion of horror, and presented the moral with a new, unfamiliar spin. I’d have to say my favourite tale was L’Uomo Cotto (The Cooked Man) by Tammie Painter, although No Man Left Behind by Scott M. Goriscak and Blood, Bodies and Wishes by Suzanne Robb were close seconds, and I really enjoyed Iain Paton’s Soul Bidder because I love dark humour.

In all it was a good read. I would recommend it to other horror enthusiasts looking for something different.

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1 Comment

  1. blackwatertown said,

    I think you have written a fair review of The Maze Runner. I suppose there may be some justification for publishers not highlighting that a book is only part one in a trilogy, for fear that parts two and three may not ever see the light of day if sales of part one are poor. (Or are publishing schedules more advanced and robuest than that?)
    I agree with you though that each part should be satisfying in itself.

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