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GUEST BOOK REVIEW – The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Guest Reviewer: Ami  (@mama_roach)

Thomas wakes up and has no recollection of who he is, where he has come from or what will happen next. The reader is in the same position as Thomas at the start of the novel- dazed, confused and slightly apprehensive. As Thomas enters ‘The Glade’, an area of land inside a vast maze, the secrets and mysteries unravel further.  He has a feeling he has been there before…
Dashner sets a dark tone from the outset – we automatically dislike whoever has put Thomas and the Gladers inside the maze and want to know why. Dashner’s style at the beginning is fast-paced, tense and full of unanswered questions. The plot is what keeps the pages turning, once you get used to the characters’ names and their unusual colloquialisms.

However, as another character, Teresa, enters the maze, things get a little wacky. I can cope with the bizarre ‘Grievers’ (half-machine, half-creatures) and I can cope with unexplained memory loss, but telepathy takes the story into other dimensions, and perhaps genres. There is a supernatural element to this novel, which doesn’t quite match its dystopian sci-fi feel. Despite this, as you read further, the story does develop well, with an excellent twist. Chuck is, by far, my favourite character, providing a sense of realism to the novel. It was also because of Thomas’ friendship with Chuck and the sense of mystery and tension, as to why I couldn’t put this down.

I certainly enjoyed The Maze Runner and highly recommend it for fans of dystopian fiction, such as Collins’ The Hunger Games and Roth’s Divergent. It was quite refreshing to read a novel of this genre with a male lead. I am also glad to report that the movie was also exciting to see, even if there are significant adaptations (fortunately, no telepathy). Despite my ‘book before film’ policy, I am not sure, this time, which I prefer. Both were equally exciting and I eagerly await the rest of the series to absorb more of Thomas’ world.

Buy from Waterstones.com
Out now from Chicken House Ltd
ISBN: 9781909489400

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BOOK REVIEW – Not Forgetting The Whale by John Ironmonger

Following on from the success of his previous novel ‘The Coincidence Authority‘ (which was one of the Waterstones Bookclub titles), John Ironmonger is back with is incredible new work of fiction ‘Not Forgetting The Whale‘.

I was lucky enough to meet John when he kindly came in to our store to sign copies of ‘The Coincidence Authority‘ last month, when I received an advanced copy of this book which is not due out until February 2015.

Not Forgetting The Whale‘ follows the trials and tribulations of Joe Haak. After being washed up naked on a beach in Cornwall, Joe is rescued by the local villagers. From the beachcomber to the local bar-keep, they all accept Joe and take him in as their own.

However, the villagers aren’t quite expecting whats on the cards for them…Joe is on the run, running away from a worldwide collapse that has been predicted by a piece of software that we created! Are we really to think that the world is coming to an end? Is Joe the savior of the ultimate demise that he has, in part, helped to create?

I started reading it the day that I got it and I feel like I didn’t stop until I’d finished it, impeccably written with moving prose, complete with a strangely immersive setting ‘Not Forgetting The Whale‘ is not a book that I’ll be forgetting any time soon. The characters all have their place in the story and they all provide different aspects to the this very readable tale. Joe is a loner that is accepted into a community that he is now responsible for. Can he call this place is home? Are these people his friends?

And now for my usual ‘Its somewhere between…’, this one is somewhere between ‘Moby Dick’ and ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, a strange yet exciting story that is a real delight to read.

Luckily I was able to bag a proof copy of this book from John himself, along with our friendly rep from Orion (Jon Small). My edition is now complete with John’s intricate ‘Ambigram’, a signature that reads the same upside down as it does the correct way round. The book isn’t due for publication until February 2015 but I was very grateful to be able to read an advanced printing of this brilliant book.

Pre-order at Waterstones.com
Due out 12/02/15
ISBN: 9780297872030

GUEST BOOK REVIEW – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Guest Reviewer: Ami  (@mama_roach)

The Book Thief is set in Nazi Germany and tells the story of Liesel, whilst she lives at her foster home in a small town called Molching at the onset of World War Two. Here, she meets an array of fascinating characters and as we read, we discover more about the war, but also the individuals who are punished because of it. The town gets bombed. Liesel dies.
Before you complain about spoilers, this book is full of them. The story is narrated by Death and initially I was taken aback by this, as I couldn’t quite follow the narrative. Death is an interesting narrator that reveals the story at the start of each chapter, but the best thing about it is that you need to know how the story gets to that point. Foreshadowing becomes a very clever device to use, even though it reveals the fate of many characters. However, this story is told so masterfully and creatively that you just have to read it and find out how the events took place.

I was drawn in by the characters and their stories. I laughed with them, cried with them and understood their motives, even ones that were morally wrong. Liesel and her book thievery is the main storyline, with Death narrating the fascinating, and sometimes devastating, events around her steals. All of the characters she comes across in Molching are truly believable, with Hans Huberman and Max Vandenberg being the most inspiring characters I have ever read about.
You’ve heard the hype. Now judge for yourself. I am pleased to say that this is my new favourite book. It is an absolute classic, which everybody needs to read. This book left a beautiful message behind. Thank you, Marcus Zusak.

Buy from Waterstones.com
Out now from Black Swan
ISBN: 9780552773898