Courtney S. Barr

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Reviews: Demon Princess by Michelle Rowen & The Maze Runner by James Dashner

What a weekend of reading!!!

I started off with The Maze Runner by James Dashner late Friday night/early Saturday a.m.
I am a huge fan of the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and was recommended Maze Runner by a friend who had actually not read it yet but heard it was a similar thrill ride.

To be honest the similarity is in the fact that it is about children who are being watched by what we may assume is either the world or individuals as they try to survive attacks by monsters and deadly elements. It is the outer shell of the plotline; this is where the similarity for me ended.

The main character, Thomas, is baffled by his memory loss, his arrival in this strange place and the idea that they are trapped there purposely. He immediately wants to ask a million questions, but being the new kid means keeping quiet, learning what you can then assessing your situation. He quickly discovers the Maze that surrounds the place he learns is the Glade. The Glade contains only boys, no girls. One boy a month for two years has appeared. He is the latest. At first he appears to be just like everyone else, but his appearance creates a chain of events that leads him and the reader through a true maze of questions, confusion, mystery, tragedy and discovery.

The Gladers who live in this new world are shocked when on Thomas' second day another kid arrives. This is unprecedented - two kids back to back. Then to the shocker of all shockers: it is a girl. First one in the Glade and rather than bringing a basket of cookies, she holds an ominous note along with bringing a feeling of familiarity that Thomas cannot place.

James Dashner allows Thomas' character to be one the reader will like but also will find wary of. He is a character that is so shrouded in mystery that with his million questions to the Gladers you have a million questions for him. You know that he cannot answer them because he does not know them himself, but you ask aloud as you read nonetheless.

I could not put it down. After the first few disorienting chapters I found myself on a whirlwind. Dashner definitely stands on his own with this one. It takes a wonderful look at how no matter our age survival can determine so much in our lives and the compassion we have can sometimes make survival be much more than black and white.

It is fast paced and a great start to what appears to be a series... yeah, be prepared for: END OF BOOK ONE. Those four words can haunt your dreams :o)

Sunday evening I read Demon Princess Reign or Shine by Michelle Rowen.
Talk about going from one extreme to another in books this weekend. Demon Princess is now one of my favorite reads. Michelle has a great knack for simple humor in odd situations. The main character, Nikki, just turned sixteen. Her mother just got remarried and they just moved to Canada (miles away from her old town). Due to her mother being on her 4th husband, transition is typically the norm for Nikki. Though she is about to learn what real transition is.

Nikki finds herself best friends with the most popular girl in school, Melinda. Melinda is beautiful, wealthy, funny and truly desires to continue being Nikki's best friend. Melinda has set up Nikki with the most popular guy in school. Everything in Nikki's life so far sounds pretty good, especially considering she is the new girl.

Not so fast. For teens it is never perfect, but for Nikki it is forever complicated. A guy shows up tells her that the father she has never met is a Demon King and requests her presence in his world - the Shadowlands. Yeah, imagine that while you do your geometry homework. From here forward you get a lovely taste of teen aggrivation, parental superiority, young love, self discovery and some great action.

This fun, thrilling ride was easy to read, easy to love and easily a series that is going to slip into my favorite pile. I cannot wait for Spring 2010 when we get Reign Check. I just recently discovered Michelle's books (check out her adult novels as well - especially the Immortality Bites series) and have truly enjoyed every one I have picked up. She is also great to follow on Twitter & Facebook (@michellerowen ). Be sure to pick this one up!

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