Category Archives: ShaylanJ

The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Reviewed by Shaylan Jewell

 

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

From Goodreads.com:

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade — a large, expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’re closed tight. And every thirty days, a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up — the first girl to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

Imagine waking up in a dark elevator with no knowledge of the reason behind it and with no knowledge of where the elevator is headed. In James Dashner’s The Maze Runner, a teenage boy named Thomas opens his eyes to realize that he’s being transported to a large courtyard filled with boys his age. The boys seem very strange to Thomas. They say words that are unfamiliar to him, and they treat him like a child. With Thomas being the new kid in the Glade, he must start his life from scratch and quickly learn the customs of the other boys. Set in a post-apocalyptic society, the novel tells the true meaning of friendship and brotherhood, and the struggle to keep fighting despite the tragic deaths of close friends. While I enjoyed the entire novel, I absolutely loved the creative vocabulary, descriptive setting, and heart-warming characters.

The unique vocabulary that James Dashner used in this novel really fascinated me. When Thomas first arrived at the Glade, he had no idea what the boys were saying. For instance, the Gladers repeatedly said the words, “shank”, “shuck”, and “Greenie.” Due to the fact that no one in the Glades remembers their past, they made up their own kind of language. “Shank” and “shuck” are used as curse words in their community, and the boys are constantly calling Thomas a “Greenie” because he is the newest addition to the Glade. Although these new words took time to get used to, they were great aspects of this novel. Sometimes I have to stop myself from saying these words in public!

The second most appealing element of The Maze Runner was the natural setting. Because they all live in the center of a maze, the characters live outside. The weather never changes in the Glade; it is always warm and sunny. There are no adults there, so the boys made their own community. In their community, there is a graveyard, a garden, a kitchen, and a small house. The novel has a post-apocalyptic setting, so everything there is make-shift and natural. The entire setting is very earthy, which makes The Maze Runner very unique.

Lastly, I enjoyed the heart-warming characters. Particularly, I loved the characters’ relationships throughout the novel. In the beginning, they were all unfamiliar with Thomas, but as the story progressed I could definitely tell they had grown closer. I found myself getting extremely emotionally attached to each character, so it was hard for me to read about the many deaths. As the number of deaths increased, it became easier to realize just how much the characters cared for one another. James Dashner made sure that the reader could feel the characters’ emotions while reading The Maze Runner.

Overall this was an incredible read, and I recommend it to all young adults. James Dashner definitely did not disappoint me with this novel. I plan on reading the other two books in this trilogy very soon, because this book’s ending left many questions unanswered. I’m sure that people my age will also enjoy this novel, because it includes a lot of action. Also, I know that girls will be interested in this book, because it contains a bit of romance. This book includes many elements that I’m sure students would enjoy, and I believe that’s why The Maze Runner is such a popular teen fiction book now. Containing an interesting vocabulary usage, an earthy setting, and a beautiful group of characters, James Dashner’s The Maze Runner was a fantastic read.

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The Shining by Stephen King, Review by Shaylan Jewell

The Shining by Stephen King

From Goodreads.com:

Danny was only five years old but in the words of old Mr Halloran he was a ‘shiner’, aglow with psychic voltage. When his father became caretaker of the Overlook Hotel his visions grew frighteningly out of control.

As winter closed in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seemed to develop a life of its own. It was meant to be empty, but who was the lady in Room 217, and who were the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why did the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive?

Somewhere, somehow there was an evil force in the hotel – and that too had begun to shine.

 

Imagine having a strong psychic ability that allows one to see things that they don’t always want to see. In The Shining by Stephen King, this strange power gives five year old Danny Torrance negative thoughts on his new temporary home. He believes that staying in the Overlook Hotel will somehow bring his family back together. However, Danny later begins seeing mysterious visions that make him question his father’s decision of becoming the new Winter Caretaker. This haunting novel describes a father’s constant battle against alcoholism, a mother’s newly found fear for her husband, and a son’s thoughts on his father’s last bit of sanity. I was intrigued by the entire novel, but the eerie setting, detailed plot, and emotional theme were the elements that really drew me in.

The amazingly detailed setting of The Shining was what made me love the book. This story is set in the small town of Boulder, Colorado, in the freezing months of 1975. The weather was a major factor in the novel, considering that the Torrance family becomes trapped in the hotel during a snowstorm. Stephen King was obviously creating the mood of horror in this novel, but the story has a deeper meaning, which creates a more emotional feeling. For example, Jack Torrance often speaks of how his life would be much better if only he could stop thinking about alcohol. With the fitting location, changing mood, and incredible detail, the setting became a major element of this novel.

Secondly, the unique and relatable plot was a significant point that completely captivated me. Specifically, the internal conflicts that the characters were facing were key factors of the plot. Jack Torrance was constantly questioning whether or not to give into the hotel’s instructions to kill his family. Throughout the book, Wendy and Danny were both internally debating on whether to save themselves from the hotel or to try saving the dangerous and psychotic Jack as well. Also, I enjoyed the flashbacks and foreshadowing described in the novel. Jack often had flashbacks of his drinking days. Foreshadowing was used in the beginning of the book, when Danny was receiving visions of the hotel. Overall, I could tell that the plot was extremely thought out and well constructed.

Lastly, the emotional theme of this novel intrigued me. The novel had such a deeper meaning than what most people would originally expect. The effects of alcoholism were main themes of The Shining. Jack is an alcoholic, which is why he previously abused his son. Wendy and Danny were constantly worrying that he would strike again. I knew that this was the theme because Jack was believing that his loss of sanity was due to the hotel itself, when it was mainly his alcohol withdrawals. It was beautifully written, as if the author were speaking from experience! The themes were definitely not what I had expected.

Overall, the book was a great read that was unique and beautifully written. I recommend it to those who love thrillers, yet enjoy novels with deeper meanings. Due to the mature language, I would not recommend it to children, however I believe that teens would enjoy this novel. The story gives the feelings of loss, fear, and desperation. There were many aspects of this book that caught my attention, and I hope that they catch other readers’ attentions as well. With the characters and plot that many readers can connect to, Stephen King did not disappoint me. For an intriguing novel with a detailed setting, relatable plot, and emotional theme, read The Shining by Steven King.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Reviewed by Shaylan Jewell.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

 

From Amazon.com:

When fifteen year old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder — much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing — not even a smear of blood — to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

Exotic and gritty, exhilarating and utterly gripping, Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end.

Imagine living in a world filled with demons, vampires, and werewolves. In City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, it’s normal to see these creatures daily. This first book in the series discusses the themes of revenge and stopping for nothing to protect loved ones. This fantasy novel set in modern day New York City, tells the fascinating story of a girl who is trying to protect her mother and finding out that not everyone can be trusted. Although I was intrigued by the entire novel, the setting, interesting vocabulary, and characters stuck out to me the most.

Particularly, the beautiful setting of City of Bones was my favorite thing about the novel. The story is set in modern day New York City. However, there is a little twist. Several evil creatures, such as warlocks, witches, and fairies, live among the ordinary New Yorkers. While reading the book, I discovered that the setting was a bit dark. Although there were many comical and uplifting moments, the story felt as if it were based directly on the “Underworld”. For instance, the story begins when the main character, Clary, witnesses a demon’s murder in an eerie night club. I very much enjoyed the mysterious mood throughout City of Bones because it was very unique. The author made a different approach, to make the reader feel as if they were stepping into Clary’s dark world.

The second most appealing element of the book was the unique vocablulary. The novel includes many terms that I hadn’t previously heard of. For example, throughout the book the terms “mundane” and “Shadowhunters” were repeated several times. The humans in the novel are called “mundanes” by the “Shadowhunters” or hunters specialized in asassinating demons. The language used in City of Bones would definitely appeal to those who enjoy fantasy novels. Also, since the story is set in modern day, many terms that my friends and I use are also said by the characters. For example, the characters briefly discuss their love for Pop-Tarts. I enjoyed the mixture of modern and fantasy terms.

Lastly, I was amazed by the well put together characters. Each one had unique characteristics and attitudes. I enjoyed that the characters had a close bond and protected each other throughout the book, even when they faced troubling situations. Clary was created to be very relatable to teenage girls, but also a heroic lead, and her love interest, Jace, was meant to be attractive and lovable. Clary is just described as a normal girl, which many readers could see themselves as. It was clear that the characters bonded as the book went on, and that was an enjoyable aspect. All in all, the characters were very well described and detailed.

Overall I highly recommend the book to all teenagers and fantasy lovers. I plan on completing the series and discovering how Cassandra Clare will finish the books off. Clary Fray is a young yet strong heroine, which many readers could be inspired by. I can honestly say that I was captivated by this novel. It was a great read for anyone, regardless of age, who enjoys a good action and fantasy filled book. Through the use of a beautiful setting, interesting vocabulary, and relatable characters, Cassandra Clare has created a terrific read in her book City of Bones. 

The Outsiders by S.E Hinton, Reviewed by Shaylan Jewell

The Outsiders by S.E Hinton

From Goodreads.com:

According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers — until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a greaser? Slicking up your hair, smoking cigarettes with the gang, and getting into rumbles would be your usual activities. You’ll get to know some greasers in The Outsiders by S.E Hinton. The novel tells the true meaning of friendship between a group of boys and what it’s like to lose someone who means the world to you. I was captivated by the entire novel, but the setting, characters, and themes were what made me love The Outsiders.

Particularly, the setting of The Outsiders was my favorite aspect of the novel. The story was set in 1965, when there were several gangs of young kids in cities all over the United States. The characters in this book live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the city is divided into two parts: The East Side and the West Side. Although the mood was meant to have everyone on the edge of their seats, there were some parts where I felt other emotions. For example, Ponyboy often thinks about the tragic events he’s been through, such as losing his parents, and what he would change if he had the chance. I believe that the author added this to make the reader feel more emotionally attached to the characters. Also, I enjoyed that the author used many sensory details to describe specific areas in the book. For instance, Ponyboy described his pain while he fought in the rumbles and went into detail about each character’s apperance as well as his attitude towards each character.

Another aspect of this novel that I enjoyed was the way the characters were presented. Each character was completely different, in their actions and appearance. For example, Dally, a greaser, was very tough and confident while Ponyboy was a little hesitant. The entire speech throughout the book made me feel as if I were really in the sixties! The greasers curse often and use many slang terms that I hadn’t previously heard. For instance, the police are known as “the fuzz” and the West Side kids are called “Socs” short for “Socials”. Also, I enjoyed that the story was written in the first person point of view, because I could really understand Ponyboy’s opinions and feelings. Overall I was amazed at how relatable these characters were and how I could find at least one feature of each character in myself.

Lastly, I enjoyed the themes presented in this novel, because many people my age could relate to them. The themes weren’t very clear to me until the near end, when both the “greasers” and “Socs” had experienced loss. Throughout the book there were small hints of the theme, like when Ponyboy and Cherry both talked about their interests in the sunset and reading. Even though the two groups of kids live on opposite sides of town, they both deal with loss in the same way. Both groups weren’t as different as they thought. Another theme shown in the book was the way that the greasers constantly stood up for each other. For instance, when Johnny killed a Soc, Ponyboy ran away with him so he wouldn’t have to go through it alone. The true meaning of friendship was portrayed in this novel.

Overall I was captivated by this novel, and I believe that it was a brilliant read for teenagers like myself. I recommend it to anyone, teen or adult, who is looking for an action filled and emotional novel. The characters are all very relatable and the theme is very nicely portrayed for anyone my age. This novel gives the feel of friendship, loss, and love. Regardless of age, I believe that this book will make you laugh, cry, and see things differently. S.E Hinton has captivated me with her beautiful setting, heart warming characters, and inspirational themes, in her novel, The Outsiders.