Becky’s Two Hundred and Forty-Second Book Review: “The Kill Order” by James Dashner

“The Kill Order” by James Dashner is the fourth book in the maze runner series and it is set as a prequel to the first book.

SPOILER ALERT – There are spoilers about the first three books in the Maze Runner series.

At the end of the third book we learn that The Flare is a man-made virus that was released after the devastation of the Sun Flares in an attempt to control the population and ensure humanity’s continued survival. The first book takes place years after the Sun Flares and The Flare, the virus that shredded the sanity of much of the population. WICKED was working towards a brain map that was supposed to lead to a cure, all of which is slowly revealed as Thomas and his friends are put through hell.

More than a dozen years in the past, “The Kill Order” follows Mark, a seventeen-year-old that happened to be lucky enough to be on the subway when the Sun Flares hit earth and therefore was shielded from the heat blasts and the initial radiation. Through flash backs, we learn just what it was like for Mark and others after the initial disaster of the Sun Flares. “Mark nodded even though she couldn’t see. He’d suddenly lost any desire to talk, and his plans for a perfect day washed away with the stream. The memories. They never let him go, not even for a half hour. They always had to rush back in, bringing all the horror.” (The Kill Order, pg 13). After surviving the natural disaster of the Sun Flares, Mark and his companions are beginning to settle into a routine when their world is once again turned upside down.

It is really interesting meeting the different characters and wondering how they are going to react to the desperate situations they continually find themselves in. Despite what Mark thinks about himself, he holds it together pretty well in an impossible situation. “He also doesn’t want her to know how he’s almost trembling with fear of what might happen at any second, which is making it hard to run. Almost seventeen years of life, and he never knew what a coward he was.” (The Kill Order, pg 102).

Would I recommend this book? Yes, but not to everyone. If you enjoyed the first book in the series, it is a no-brainer to read the rest. I like that a lot of the questions that I found myself asking throughout the series were answered to a degree in this book. It wrapped everything up nicely. At the same time, it felt a little like this book was not planned by the author and instead the result of the first part of the series doing so well that he decided to bang out another book. James Dashner’s writing is adequate, but what really kept bringing me back for more was the story itself. I liked the different take on a natural disaster and the fact that the heroes in this book were not so cut and dry. I found the series to be very enjoyable and I would likely pick up another novel by James Dashner.

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Becky’s Two Hundred and Forty-First Book Review: “The Enemy” by Lee Child

“The Enemy” by Lee Child is the eighth book in the Jack Reacher series. What was fun and different about this book was that it took place further in the past, before Reacher left the army to explore civilian life. That is how we meet him in the first book. Also in the first book (spoiler alert) Reacher finds himself part of a murder investigation and learns that the victim was his brother.

I always found the relationships between Jack and Joe Reacher to be curious. It wasn’t that they didn’t care about one another; they just were never overly close. I consider myself to be very close with my siblings, so I find it hard to believe that one could be so estranged from their brother when there was nothing really wrong there. In “The Enemy” we get to see the Reacher brothers together for the first time and it was a nice change of pace. “Joe was probably the only other human on the planet who liked coffee as much as I did. He started drinking it when he was six. I copied him immediately. I was four. Neither of us has stopped since. The Reacher brothers’ need for caffeine makes heroine addiction look like an amusing little take-it-or-leave-it sideline.” (The Enemy, pg 81).

I really enjoyed how in “The Enemy” we get to learn more about Reacher’s relationship with his brother and his relationship with his mother. While he is trying to figure out who the enemy is that he is battling, Reacher learns that his mother is very sick and dying. Not only did we get to learn about his relationship with his mother, but Joe and Jack learn more about her after she dies. It was really interesting to get a better picture of why Jack Reacher is the way he is, beyond just how he was shaped growing up in the army.

Would I recommend “The Enemy”? Absolutely, I really enjoyed this book. I think that it was brilliant for Lee Child to spend some time on a story that takes place in the past so we could learn more about how Reacher grew into the man we know from the first seven books. I highly recommend this series. It is very well written and I’m already salivating waiting to start the next book, which I’m certain I will devour as well. Lee Child has a real gift for writing and considering there are at least ten more books in the series – I have a feeling that he is just getting started.

Becky’s Two Hundred and Fortieth Book Review: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass” by Lewis Carroll

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass” by Lewis Carroll were interesting books. The copy that I have features both books together and after much debate, I decided to review them that way. Once upon a time, I saw the cartoon movie of “Alice in Wonderland” but I never read the books as a kid and after having read them recently, I’m glad I didn’t try to dissect that madness when I was younger.

“Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.” (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, pg 105). I think this quote really says it all – this is a weird fucking book. There are parts that literally need to be read aloud to understand what Lewis Carroll was trying to say. And even then, you’re still fifty-fifty on understanding the nonsense that is littered throughout this novel.

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” follow Alice as she follows the white rabbit and ends up on many crazy adventures. In “Through the Looking-Glass”, Alice falls through a mirror and has crazy adventures in a world where everything is backwards. If possible, this book is even more challenging to understand than the first. “That’s the effect of living backwards,” the Queen said kindly: “it always makes one a little giddy first – ” / “Living backwards!” Alice repeated in great astonishment. “I never heard of such a thing!” / “– but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s memory works both ways.” / “I’m sure mine only works once way,” Alice remarked. “I can’t remember things before they happen.” / “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,” the Queen remarked.” (Through the Looking-Glass, pg 204). I liked this exchange. Here Alice is conversing with the White Queen, who is much kinder than the Red Queen who is infamous for ordering people’s heads off. Alice’s adventures with the White Queen are slightly less violent.

Although I found both books to be more than a little absurd, I enjoyed reading them. These books are quoted so often and so well known that it is worth reading them. I might even consider picking them up again. Would I recommend these books? Yes – but only to those willing to spend the extra time on the books. The complexity of Lewis Carroll’s work is evident from the start. The greatest challenge I faced while reading “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass” was slowing myself down. The language itself isn’t overly complicated, but the way that Lewis Carroll vomits all over the pages – that is what is difficult to decipher and what makes this a challenging read. It’s enjoyable, but certainly is not for everyone.

Becky’s Two Hundred and Thirty Ninth Book Review: “The Waitress” by Melissa Nathan

“The Waitress” by Melissa Nathan was a quirky chic-lit book that I just happened upon. I’m not certain where it came from, but it appeared on my bookshelf when I was looking for a light read, so I grabbed it. I was a little surprised at the different directions that the book went off in, but overall found myself interested in Katie. The book has a romantic side to it, but there is also a lot of focus on Katie trying to discover who she is and who she wants to be.

Part of what I enjoyed about “The Waitress” was just how relatable I found Katie to be – her indecisive nature, her attitude towards life, her ability to get super lost while driving, her extreme sarcastic nature – all attributes that I share. Her knack for becoming comfortable right before she has to wake up: “She rolled over. And then, oh joy, she was unable to move. She was, quite unexpectedly, more comfortable than she had ever been in her life. She focused on it so as not to forget the feeling. Yes, her body had chanced upon a position that made all other positions a nonsense. Her limbs felt light with the luxury of it. The spaced between them were perfection. There was probably an equation for it. Every feather in her duvet had found its optimum position, and as for her pillow, it was a cloud. Her head seemed to be cushioned in cotton wool. All thoughts were clear here. All emotions profound. Was this what heaven felt like? Why, she thought, had this not happened ten hours ago? Why had she spent an entire night trying to get this comfortable? Why had she not tried this position? It was hardly complicated. Her body almost hummed with happiness. She was the closest she’d ever come to purring. It felt as if time had stood still.” (The Waitress, pg 110/111). I thought this was pretty funny, and a good illustration of the way that Melissa Nathan writes.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, it was a fun read and it wasn’t overly predictable like many chic-lit novels tend to be. I liked that in addition to the perspective of Katie, we got a peak into the other character’s minds. I wouldn’t have minded a little more development with the other characters, but it was enjoyable. I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to read “The Waitress” again, but it was worth reading once. If I happened upon another novel by Melissa Nathan, I would read it.

 

 

Becky’s Two Hundred and Thirty-Eighth Book Review: “Death Du Jour” by Kathy Reichs

“Death Du Jour” by Kathy Reichs is the second book in the Temperance Brennan series. Once again, we follow Temperance Brennan as she pairs with Andrew Ryan to help solve a horrible mystery. Tempe starts out the book excavating human remains for a convent and is called in the early morning hours to help on a case where a fire broke out and burned down a home. She shortly discovers that this fire was no accident and that two of the bodies belonged to twin babies. Brennan finds herself pulled into an investigation that provides more questions than answers and is so brutal that she has to step away at times. “Though it is my business, I have never grown immune to the sight of violent death.” (Death Du Jour, loc 425). The brutality of these killings lead to inquiries about cults and the further involved with the case that Brennan gets, the more her own life and those around her are in danger.

Although she works in a highly specialized field and has a superior intelligence, Brennan is a very relatable character. Meeting her and interacting with her would be intimidating, but the great part about a book narrated by such an amazing character is that you get to see her flaws that otherwise you might not notice. She is such a brilliant anthropologist that it is easy to forget that she too, is human and becomes weary from her work. That is part of what I really liked about this quote. “I wanted to be somewhere else. To be someone else. Someone who had not spent years smelling death and seeing its final degradation. Someone who did not work day after day reassembling the human carnage left by macho pimps, enraged partners, wired cokeheads, and psychopaths. I had come to the island to escape the brutality of my life’s work. But even here, death had found me. I felt overwhelmed. Another day. Another death. Death du jour. My God, how many such days would there be?” (Death Du Jour, loc 2939). Who hasn’t wanted to escape sometimes from their life? And that’s without having to deal day in and day out with death.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, but not to everyone. It was really well done and I found myself enjoying this book even more than “Déjà Dead”. But the book is brutal and violent. I consider myself to be a bit desensitized to fictional murder, but there were times when even I was taken aback with “Death Du Jour” and the killings taking place. I am however, looking forward to reading the next book in the series. The more I read, the more I understand why these books have been so successful!