Posted in discussion

Mid Year Freak Out Tag

We’ve officially reached the mid-way point in the year, which is a mixture of exciting and terrifying! So it’s time to reflect on all the bookish adventures I’ve had so far.

Best Sequel Of The Year So Far

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This one is actually a bit of a cop-out as I’ve only read two sequels this year and this one was a reread. As you’re probably aware, it’s the second book in The Maze Runner series and after falling into my hole at the start of the year when the final film adaptation was released, I decided to give the whole series a reread. It’s definitely one of my favourites in the series.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

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Noah Can’t Even was one of my favourite books of last year and when I found out there was going to be a sequel, I did a lot of running around and screaming. The first book is about a boy called Noah discovering and exploring his sexuality and it’s by a British author! It’s hysterical, cringy and just brilliant so I can’t wait to see what adventures Noah goes on in this one.

 

Most Anticipated For Autumn/Winter

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It is a known fact that I adore Becky Albertalli… but also that I am not the biggest fan of Adam Silvera, so it’s no surprise that the book I’m looking forward is What If It’s Us? I don’t know much about it except that it’s about two boys and all the possibilities of their lives together.

 

Biggest Disappointment Of The Year So Far

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As a big lover of both Tom and Giovanna’s individual works, I was both excited and nervous to hear that they were moving into the realms of Young Adult fiction. Sadly, it’s not that great. The narrators for the audiobook don’t really add anything to the characters, it’s badly written, and just… well, boring.

 

Biggest Surprise Of The Year So Far

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How To Stop Time was a Christmas present from a friend and not the sort of book I would have picked up of my own accord. It’s about a man who’s lived for centuries and is struggling to find his place in the world now that everyone he’s loved has passed away. It’s beautiful, emotional and raises the questions of who we are outside of our connections to other people.

 

New Favourite Author

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All it took was “The Hunger Games meets Jurassic Park” for me to pick up a copy of The Extinction Trials. It’s a world of two continents: one populated by humans, the other by dinosaurs. It’s action packed and utterly brilliant and I’m down for any other books S.M. Wilson may release!

 

Newest Favourite Character

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This isn’t really a new character, but I started the series last year and I just utterly adore Lara Jean. She’s so caring and loves her family and it just trying to stay true to herself.

 

Book That Made You Cry

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I heard about this book when Patrisse was on the Mostly Lit podcast talking about her life and the Black Lives Matter movement which she co-founded. I listened to the audiobook as I feel this is the best way to consume non-fiction. There are many exhausting moments of this book as Patrisse talks about her life but one chapter about the treatment of her brother regarding his mental health just had me sobbing. If you pick up one book this year, make it this one.
Book That Made You Happy

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Oi Goat was one of the World Book Day titles and just made me grin reading it. The frog in the story is teaching all the different things animals have dressed up as for World Book Day such as “otters dressed as Harry Potters.”

Most Beautiful Book So Far

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I mean, just look at it! It’s so simple but just packs a punch!

 

Posted in Dystopian, Rereads, review, young adult

Reread | The Scorch Trials

“The flare always wins in the end. You lose any chance of being rational, having common sense, having compassion. You lose your humanity.”

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Blurb: “Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch.”

Brief Note: I am very much aware of certain allegations and I addressed these in in my blog post that is all I’m going to say on it.

When I initially started reading this series, on a film adaptation fuelled hype, this was my favourite book of the first two. In fact, it was one of the first reviews I actually did here on Charlottereadsthings and I was interested to revisit it and see what I thought of it this time around.

As to be expected with a series, The Scorch Trials is very much a “transition book.” Thomas and his fellow gladers barely make it through the Maze Trials only to be thrown into a world devastated by a disease called The Flare. They’re no closer to being free and the questions from the previous book only continue to grow in number of the course of this addition to the timeline.

I love this book because the reader starts to see Thomas make that shift from a scared, clueless boy into a sort of leader for the remaining group of boys. I adore watching him team up and work together with Minho and how they bounce off each other while focusing on keeping everyone safe. The introduction of a girl called Brenda in the scorched world really hit me a lot more this time because I was able to see the parallels between her and Thomas: Brenda is a survivor in her own way; forced to live in the “real” world seeing the true effects of the flare at work.

My issue with my reread for The Maze Runner was the attempts at dialogue and, thankfully, they are fare and few between in this book. They flow into the dialogue a lot more and I feel that the shift has a lot to do with the new characters coming in that haven’t been exposed to words like “shank.”

As I mentioned earlier, this is the second book in the series and, almost unsurprisingly, it lags quite a bit in places while the characters explore this new world. While the previous book felt claustrophobic, this one almost feels like there’s too much space. It did reach points when I felt I was forcing myself through long boring segments in the hopes it would pick up.

I like the concept of everyone having a purpose within this world. As the characters learn more about themselves, and try to piece together their lives before the maze with limited memories, they discover that regardless of whether their role is to be the leader, the glue, or the betrayer, they all have a role. And I think that is something we can all apply to real life.

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Posted in adaptations, discussion, review, young adult

Book To Movie Talk | The Scorch Trials

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*Warning: This post is not spoiler free*

When I see a trailer for a film and learn that it’s based off a book, if I’m interested in the premise, I read the book before seeing it. This was the case with The Maze Runner. However, this series is out of character for me in some elements: I read primarily YA, I love dystopian, but if it’s heavily sci-fi orientated, I tend to be put off by it. But there was something that compelled me to read The Maze Runner. I did and loved it. I watched the film and loved it just as much. But I wasn’t overly interested in reading the next book in the series The Scorch Trials until I discovered that it was being made into a movie. I did a review of the book which can be found here and based off the two, I much preferred The Scorch Trials.

The Scorch Trials movie was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I went to see the movie and I am so horrifically disappointed.

While the film primarily follows the surviving “gladers”, we have some new additions:

Aris played by Jacob Lofland 

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Brenda played by Rosa Salazar

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Jorge played by Giancarlo Esposito

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Jansen played by Aidan Gillen

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I’ve seen a lot of reviews from fans of the book that seemed to really enjoy the film. This has left me feeling like I went to see a completely different film.

Brief overview of the book plot: The book opens after the gladers have been rescued from the Maze. Thomas wakes to find the facility being attacked by cranks (victims of the flare) and they escape to a common room area where they discover their rescuers are death. Along the way they discover a boy named Aris and learn that they weren’t the only Maze and that he is part of Group B, the gladers all have tattooes on their necks which read “Group A” and then a role. Thomas’ reads “Group A – to be killed by group B” They return to the common area to find the bodies of their rescuers are gone and in their place is one of the scientists from WICKED (Jansen) who tells them they have been infected with the Flare and have two weeks to get to the scorch (the outside world), and find a safe haven to get the cure. If they refuse, they will be shot.

The plot for the movie however, is completely different. It opens where The Maze Runner left off, with the gladers being rescued. They are taken to a facility where they are introduced to Jansen who tells them they’ve been rescued from WICKED. He shows them around the facility and they learn they weren’t the only maze.  Aris meets Thomas after climbing into his dormitory via the vents and tells him he has something to show Thomas. They learn that something is definitely not right and begin investigations through which they learn that Jansen is actually part of WICKED and working for Ava Page. Safe to say, this sends Thomas into panic mode and he hurries back to the dormitory to tell the other gladers.  A big action scene ensues where they try to escape as WICKED chase them until they willingly run out into the scorch.

Now, I’ve seen enough book-to-movie adaptations over the years to know that sometimes things get cut because they can slow down the pace of the film etc. but to completely change the entire plot arc and character motivations? What on earth were the people making this film thinking? Also, James Dashner was very involved with this movie as the Director kept him up to date on changes and asked his thoughts, so I have no idea how he agreed to these changes.

This alone ruined the film for me. The start in the book is gradual. You slowly uncover things and then BAM action. The film’s start was really rushed and it seems like they tried to include action but sacrificed the story in the process.
Winston’s death for example, in the book happens when they try to get through a storm. In the movie, he dies when he shoots himself after getting bitten by a crank (thus getting the flare) – note how this is completely irrelevant in the original plot as they have already been infected with the flare – The group is also considerably smaller: The leftover gladers, and Aris are the driving force for this movie. Along with Brenda.

Speaking of which, Brenda and Jorge want nothing to do with the gladers in the book when they know they’re from WICKED, Thomas convinces them to help by offering them some of the cure when they get to the safe haven. In the film, when Jorge learns they’re from WICKED he plans to use them to get into the “right arm” – the rebel army.

Personally, I just couldn’t get past the plot. The important explanations are missing and this film as a whole just makes the events of The Maze Runner completely irrelevant.

The only things I can say I enjoyed were the scene where they hung upside down which took a whole two days to film because they didn’t have stunt doubles and you can only last 3-4 minutes upside down before the blood rushes to your head. The other was Aidan Gillen. He was perfect in the role of Jansen and had fabulous screen presence and pretty much the only thing that stopped me walking out of the cinema.

I haven’t been this annoyed and disappointed at a film in so long that it actually doesn’t make me want to continue the series, and quite frankly I’m just going to pretend they made The Maze Runner and that was it.
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Posted in Dystopian, review, young adult

The Scorch Trials – James Dashner

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** This post is not spoiler free**

Blurb: “Solving the maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escaping meant he would get his life back. But no one knew what sort of life they were going back to… Burned and baked, the earth is a wasteland, its people driven mad by an infection known as the flare. Instead of freedom, Thomas must face another trial. He must cross the scorch to once again save himself and his friends…”
So let’s start with a quick recap.
The Maze Runner ended with the surviving gladers getting rescued by rebels and brought to a safe haven after being told that the world has been devastated by an illness called “the flare.” The epilogue revealed that the rebel group may just be another variable in this “experiment” created by WICKED.

If you thought The Maze Runner was intense then buckle up my dear readers, because this one is a rollercoaster. Pretty much every chapter ends with some kind of cliff-hanger which makes you just have to read one… okay maybe six more chapters.

In The Scorch Trials, the gladers discover that they are not the only group WICKED have been experimenting on – there was another maze. They meet the other group (Group B) and quickly realise from tattoos that appear on their necks that they are facing another test. This is confirmed when a WICKED individual tells them they are entering phase two. The Scorch.  Basically the gladers have to go outside, into the scorch and find the safe haven in a certain amount of time. Sounds simple right? But why on earth would they willingly take part?

They don’t. If they stay they die… If they go… they need motivation. And boy does WICKED give it to them. They have been infected with the flare. The safe haven contains the only known cure.

Good things about this book: the second phase taking place outside the maze means that we get to see what little is left of the world. (yay for world building)

Not so good things: everything else.  A lot of serious shit goes down in this book. You thought the grievers were bad? JUST YOU WAIT!

The character that really stood out of me in this book is Minho. He really took on the role of leader and handled the situations better than I would have; I really liked seeing the growth of him and Thomas working together after the events of The Maze Runner. They made a really great team and it was interesting watching that grow throughout this book.

I didn’t expect this book to be as intense as it was but I was hooked.

The movie is out 18th September 2015 in the UK and I don’t know how they filmed this but it will be really interesting to see.

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