Showing posts with label James Dashner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Dashner. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Rating: WARTY!

Is it just me that finds it hilarious that an author whose name is Dashner writes a novel about running? I saw the movie before I read the book and since the movie, despite its problems was watchable, I became curious as to whether the novel might offer more. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. In this case, it didn't. It was overly wordy and a bit tedious. Watch the movie instead. I think I'm about done with Dashner. I wasn't impressed by his Infinity Ring which I negatively reviewed back in December 2015.

I'm not a fan of series, and trilogies are the absolute worst form of series. Young adult trilogies are such tediously commonplace things these days that it's almost starting to seem like it cannot be any other way. Please, help me in fighting this horrific abuse of young children! Trilogies are not the only way. They're not even a "way". They're merely favored by Big Publishing™ because they can milk the same story for three sales instead of one. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the writing or the worth of the material. It has to do solely with making a fast buck and as writers, we do not have to buy into this - or sell out to it. That said, and with Amazon dedicatedly trying to drive novel prices into the dirt, I can't really blame a self-published author for trying to spin one novel out into three sales of ninety nine coins instead of only one, but that's not what I'm about.

Now down to more serious undertakings: the story itself. If you don't know what this is, you haven't been paying anywhere near enough attention to the world of YA "literature"! The most important and predictable thing about this plot is that, as usual for YA trilogies, it makes zero sense. The maze trial is supposed to be about toughening-up kids and selecting the most successful ones for the trial that lies ahead, but what trial?

In Scorch Trials there are no mechanical monsters out there rampaging and needing to be defeated. There's no dirt so there's no way growing crops as a skill has any value. There are people of both genders out there, but these boys never get to interact with any females, so they're socially disadvantaged. Outside, there are people with guns, but the boys are never given guns to practice with. There is no maze in the desert, yet the boys are expected to navigate one? There's no desert in the maze, so the boys never have any experience at surviving in extreme heat conditions. Nor does any of that heat impact upon the glade. How is it kept out? If the scientists have that kind of technology, and can develop automated and deadly mechanical creatures, what can the boys bring to the table that the scientists cannot?

The book does go into more detail than the movie, but barely. The story there is that the purpose of the Glade is to stress out children so their brains reveal information about how to fight the rampant disease, but this is purest bullshit, since there is no real stress in the Glade. It's rather an idyllic environment for adolescents in that there's no school or household chores as such. They do have to work, but other than that, they do pretty much whatever they want.

The only freal stressor is for those who run the maze - so again, why not deposit the kids inside the maze and dispense with the Glade? And what's the point of having the kids killed off? How does this advance their 'science"? Are their bodies reaped so the "creators" can do a post-mortem? They must get precious little data.

They'd be better off having the kids play video games and give them an electrical shock whenever they lose a life or something. That would be callous, but it would get them the data they the story claims they're seeking. Again, it makes no sense, and all this kind of story tells me is that the writer didn't think it through: it suggests that they got so excited about their crazy idea to put kids in peril that they never considered how illogical or unintelligent their story actually is. I mean look at it: they claim they have rules to make life fair and just, and that they're not allowed to harm each other, yet they brutalize every new kid with demeaning names and by withholding information. The kids are, in their own way, just as callous as the "creators"!

In some ways, Caighlin Smith offered more in her Children of Icarus, but ultimately she made the same mistakes as Dashner did, by ignoring the maze and focusing on ridiculous high-school mentality antics. At least she didn't make up asinine words in a farcical attempt to avoid using bad language. I ditched this novel DNF and I cannot recommend it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Infinity Ring a Mutiny in Time by James Dashner

Rating: WARTY!

The author of The Maze Runner fouls up again with this series aimed at middle graders. Not that I've actually read The Maze Runner series. I was interested after seeing the first movie, but then lost all interest after the disastrous second movie which was profoundly dumb and tedious. If it's anything like the novel I've lost all desire to read any of those books. I was curious to see if he might do better with something aimed at a younger audience. He didn't.

The cover designers showed their legendary ineptitude again by putting a compass on the front cover instead of the actual infinity ring. This is about time travel not geographic travel per se, so what's with the compass? I swear I get more laughs out of Big Publishing™ cover designers than I do from books which are actually intended to be humorous!

This is your standard middle-grade time travel novel where young kids save the world by visiting extremely famous points and/or people, and/or landmarks in history. I'm sure there's a novel (or maybe even a series) which gets it right, but this one isn't it. Set in an alternate reality (where the US capital is Philadelphia and Columbus didn't discover Cuba) - which we learn is really our reality gone awry, we soon discover that there are breaks in history, starting in Aristotle's time, which must be set right to put reality back on track. Who determined where these were, and how they figured out there were breaks in the first place is left unexplained.

That's just the problem with this novel: there's far too much unexplained. Why they cannot go back and fix the first (in Alexander and Aristotle's time) and have all the other breaks fall into place goes just as unexplained as why they start with Columbus instead of starting with the first, or even with the last and work backwards. My guess is that no matter how many they fix, and no matter where they start, every single volume in this series will be exactly the same - with Time Wardens seeking to thwart or to capture them no matter how much history they change, which makes zero sense, and it's why I didn't bother finishing this novel once I saw where it was stupidly determined to go. Worse than this, the two kids have a pad computer with them, yet instead of information, it delivers clues in cheap rhymes and in absurdly simple visual puzzles! Why? No reason at all! God forbid we should make our young readers actually think when we can serve everything up like it's fast food!

The idea is that there are good guys and bad guys (the Time Wardens) stationed throughout history. How that works goes unexplained, because they would either already have to know where the breaks were, in order to station guards there, or they would have to station people all over the entire planet throughout time, which is absurd. That was the major problem with this story: the sheer absurdity of it. I couldn't stand to finish it, especially since it was puffed up with so much fluff. The novel could have comfortably begun on page 80 or thereabouts, at the end of chapter twelve, about two fifths of the way into the story, and lost nothing in the telling!

Had anyone but an established author submitted this trash, any respectable publisher would have rejected it. This novel seemed to me to be nothing short of a cynical attempt to bilk the rubes (aka middle-graders) out of money by running a cheap series which retells the same story over and over with a few details changed here and there to make them superficially different. I mean why tell an intelligent and original story in one concise volume when you can stretch it to a dozen? I can't support that and I can't recommend this.