My Writings. My Thoughts.

The Maze Runner

// January 5th, 2015 // No Comments » // Book Reviews

Title: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Synopsis:

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
 
Remember. Survive. Run.

My Book Review:

I wanted to write a book review on something in my list of the Best Books I’ve Read in 2014. A highly ranked book, so I could go into more detail and give it a little more than the lower ranked books. Number One, the Book Thief, I had already written a book review on. Number Two was the Blood of Olympus, but I had written book reviews on the previous ones. I wanted something extremely new. Number Three I had also written a book review on, Fallout. Number Four though, I hadn’t! Perfect! So here it is, a book review on the Maze Runner! Ahem…

The Maze Runner is a story about a boy named Thomas, and a girl named Teresa. Thomas enters the Glade, a place isolated from the rest of the Earth. All the people in the Glade are kids, boys. But nobody remembers anything, except for their name. A little while after Thomas arrives, weird things are happening. A girl named Teresa comes! The monsters in the famous Maze outside of the Glade enter the Glade! The Gladers need to find a way out of the Maze. But can they get through the winding, turning paths?

The book is a little confusing at the beginning, but it should be. When someone reads it, they ask to themselves things like: Where is Thomas right now? How do they get out? And sometimes, they say, “What is going on right now?” You are following Thomas. And Thomas is just as clueless as you. Since Thomas can only remember his name at the beginning, all you know is… Thomas’s name! The language is also very confusing, because the kids use weird words.

This story is mysterious and adventurous. Everything is unknown until the end of the book, but even then you want to read the sequel, because there are so many unsolved mysteries. Also, Thomas goes on large adventures. I love how the Glade is its own little town run by kids. And then there’s the Maze. The Maze that apparently holds the key to getting out of the Glade. Except nobody has found an exit. Every night, the Maze closes and changes, and whoever is inside at night, stays inside at night. But you don’t want to be out there, because of the Grievers. The Grievers are giant monsters lurking in the Maze, striking to kill. The main reason I like the Maze Runner is because of the concept (exit via a maze with monsters, and kids living in their own town) and the mysteries.

This book is amazing with its mysteries and adventure. I rate it 9 out of 10 stars. The one problem with this book is that sometimes it is TOO confusing. But besides that, its great! I recommend it to middle grade readers who love a sense of mystery surrounding a story. I also recommend the sequels, because they explain a lot of the mysteries! So, as always, have a good (and very mysterious) day!

A Crack in the Sky

// January 3rd, 2015 // No Comments » // Book Reviews

Title: A Crack in the Sky

Author: Mark Peter Hughes

Synopsis:

Thirteen-year-old Eli Papadopoulos is worried. Even though he’s a member of the most powerful family in the world. Even though his grandfather founded InfiniCorp, the massive corporation that runs everything in the bustling dome-cities. Even though InfiniCorp ads and billboards are plastered everywhere, proclaiming:

DON’T WORRY! INFINICORP IS TAKING CARE OF EVERYTHING!

Recently, Eli noticed that there’s something wrong with the artificial sky. It keeps shorting out, displaying strange colors and random images. And though the Department of Cool and Comfortable Air is working overtime, the dome-city is hotter than it’s ever been.
Eli has been raised to believe that the dome-cities are safe, that the important thing is to keep working and consuming, and that everyone is secure and comfortable in InfiniCorp’s capable hands.
But now he begins asking questions.
All of a sudden, operatives from a dangerous band of terrorists keep contacting him. The Friends of Gustavo—or Foggers—want to tear down everything InfiniCorp has created. They promise Eli that they have the truth he seeks—if he’s brave enough to handle it.
Eli isn’t convinced. And he’s about to find out that in the dome-cities, being a Papadopoulos isn’t enough to save a rule-breaker like him from being sent far away to learn right-thinking. In his new home, the Tower, Eli meets Tabitha, once at the top of her Internship class, now a forgotten slave. Together, and with help from Eli’s beloved pet mongoose, Marilyn, they just might be able to escape . . . and try to make a life for themselves in the scorched wilderness outside the domes.

My Book Review:

    A Crack in the Sky is a great story about a dystopian society involving the weather and global warming. Eli is a child who tries to gain the truth, that the company that controls everything, Infinicorp, is hiding. But to do that he has to talk to a group of terrorists, the Foggers. Will Infinicorp find out and stop Eli? Or will Eli get away with it?

    One of the many things I like about this book is the theme. It sends a powerful message; to treat the environment well. In this book, they didn’t treat the environment well, so everything became corrupted and destroyed. Mother Nature sent her storms tumbling down, so it was raining more than it wasn’t. The people tried to hide inside protective domes, but even that couldn’t stop Mother Nature’s power.

    A lot of the truth in the book is clouded in mystery. You don’t even know who the real villain is! Is it the Foggers? Is it Infinicorp? Is it simply Mother Nature? Or is Eli just wrong and nothing bad is happening anywhere? This aura of mystery gives you a powerful longing to flip the pages and unveil the truth.

    This book sends many positive messages about the environment, which is great. Mother Nature is very important! This book is recommended to kids who enjoy middle grade books, specifically dystopian stories and adventure stories. Dystopians are usually read by young adult, and it can be a young adult read, but it is better for middle grade readers. I rate this book 9 out of 10 stars. Have a non-rainy (hopefully) and nice day!

Best Books I’ve Read in 2014

// January 1st, 2015 // No Comments » // Blogging

    Happy New Year’s! And a new year means its time for the list of the best books of 2014! Woo hoo! Let’s start it off, starting with number 10!

 

    10. Arcade Catastrophe: Candy Shop War #2 by Brandon Mull

    This book is amazing and fun, and about magic candy! But, added with the candy, there are now magic stamps, which can allow you to fly, have super speed, have super strength, or even have the ability to breathe underwater! This is a fun (and sweet) and magical story! This book made my list because it’s magic, which is something I love, and candy, which is something I love as well.

 

    9. A Crack in the Sky by Mark Peter Hughes

    This dystopian story is mysterious, futuristic, and truly gripping. In this dystopia, global warming has occurred, and on drastic levels. The people are basically controlled by technology and the company Infinicorp, and live in shielded domes, oblivious to the dangers outside. But one child, Eli, meets a group of terrorists who live outside of the domes, to learn some answers. Except Infinicorp doesn’t want Eli learning the truth. Can Eli evade the clutches of Infinicorp, and his cruel cousin, Spider? This book was chosen for its message about how to treat the Earth, but it was also really cool, in a future setting.

 

    8. No Place by Todd Strasser

    This is the story of a popular teenager, who suddenly becomes homeless. On this adventure, he realizes what true friendship is. But somebody is trying to get rid of the town’s Tent City. And he will murder to get what he wants. Will Dan be able to stop this murderer from kicking the people out of the town? This book is great because it gives the perspective of someone who had everything, but soon, has nothing. For more information, check out my book review:

http://www.harrisonschwartz.com/book-reviews/no-place/

 

    7. The Screaming Staircase: Lockwood & Co. #1 by Jonathan Stroud

    Have you ever heard of a ghost story? Well, this book is a ghost story. It’s the story of a girl who became a ghost hunter, in a corporation called Lockwood & Co.. She, along with Anthony Lockwood, have to stop ghosts from harming or scaring civilians. Their entire business is riding on this one job though, so will they be able to keep their company alive? This book is awesome!

 

    6. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

    The Outsiders is a brilliant story of how there are problems in society and against the Socs (the rich kids) for the greasers (the poor kids). Ponyboy goes on an adventure with two of his friends, Dally and Johnny, where he discovers friendship is golden. Murder, smoking, and drinking are some negative messages in the story, but the other positive messages compensate for that. The positive messages is one of the reasons I chose this to be on my list. For more information, visit my book review: http://www.harrisonschwartz.com/book-reviews/the-outsiders-2/

    5. The Giver by Lois Lowry

    Jonas lives in a world where jobs are chosen for them, everyone has a part in the community, and everything is perfect. Or so he thinks. When he is employed to work for the Giver, he discovers things aren’t really like what he thought they were. How could Jonas handle the truth? This book was chosen mainly for being so unique. It is unique in ways I had never seen, and is really interesting. I can’t really say anything else, or it would ruin the entire book!

    4. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

    The Maze Runner is a thrilling adventure with a mystery entwined into it. Thomas finds himself in isolation, with other boys, and not being able to remember anything of his past except for his name. But weird things are happening. A girl shows up, and the boys are shocked, because a girl never came before. They must escape the endless maze, or most likely be killed. Will Thomas, Teresa, and the members of the Glade be able to escape?

    3. Fallout by Todd Strasser

    What would have happened if in the Cuban Missile Crisis, missiles were actually fired? This alternate reality story explains that. A family and a few friends must survive in a bunker, because outside, nuclear radiation is everywhere. But they are running out of supplies. Will they survive long enough to get out of the bunker? This is a great book. It explains what happened before the missiles hit, and in the bunker.

    2. The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

The amazing author Rick Riordan strikes again in this finale to the outstanding series, The Heroes of Olympus. Based off Greek mythology, this book is funny, cool, and flat out awesome at the same time. A great ending to the series. Its depth in Greek mythology and its humor automatically earns this story a good place on my list. If you would like to see my review for the previous book in the series, click here: http://www.harrisonschwartz.com/book-reviews/the-house-of-hades/

And it’s time. Time for number one. And that book is…

1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief is amazing. It really is. It tells the story of a girl living during WWII, and all of her hardships. It is narrated by Death himself, so it is really sad, but also interesting. Death talks about the colors that he sees, mainly when a person dies. The outstanding story can put people to tears, but it is definitely a great read. It truly is marvelous. It’s amazing portrayal of a girl living during the holocaust is great. For more information, check out my book review: http://www.harrisonschwartz.com/book-reviews/the-book-thief/

And that wraps it up! Happy New Year! And a happy new year of reading!

The Outsiders

// December 30th, 2014 // 1 Comment » // Book Reviews

Title: The Outsiders

Author: S. E. Hinton

Synopsis:

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.

My Book Review:

I bet you’ve heard the expression, “an oldie but a goodie.” This amazing book defines that. It tells the story of a “gang” of poor people, or Greasers, and their hardships in society and against the Socs. The Socs are the rich kids. It tells the adventure of Ponyboy, Johnny, and Dally, three Greasers who become heroes on their adventure involving burning buildings, murder, and suicide. This sad, interesting, beautifully written story is captivating as you turn its pages.

One of the many things I love about this story is the perspective. This story is from the point of view of a poor teenager, Ponyboy, and his struggle and sadness. This means that the language in the story is different, more gang-like. But even though he is in a gang, he is not a typical gang member. He cares about his education, he enjoys reading, and he hates suffering, but is willing to fight the rich kids for his friends. Also, he is basically forced to be in the gang since his older brothers are in the gang, and that is his only family.

Friendship is golden. That is one of the many positive messages this book sends. It is great for pre-teens because it sends very positive messages to kids that age. Parents be warned, cigarettes and alcohol are in the story, quite a bit actually, so that is one of the negative messages, but if you tell your children the dangers, I’m sure they will be fine.

Overall, this book was great. It is really captivating, and you just wanted to read on. This book is definitely recommended to older middle schoolers, but is also good for older kids and even adults. I would rate it 9 out of 10 stars. So, as always, happy reading!

No Place

// July 3rd, 2014 // No Comments » // Book Reviews

Title: No Place

Author: Todd Strasser

Synopsis:

Strasser tackles unexpected homelessness among the middle class in this affecting novel about Dan, a high school senior and promising baseball pitcher whose family suffers a slow slide from a comfortable life to being taken in by relatives and eventually coming to reside in their town’s tent city. Overcome by embarrassment, anger, and compassion for his fellow homeless citizens, Dan—who is almost too thoughtful and well-behaved (he only once allows anger to overtake him, and stops short of doing actual harm)—sustains credibility as he gives voice to the disbelief and disorientation felt by many in this situation. Strasser (Fallout) endows other characters, including Dan’s parents, with multidimensional responses, and elements of romance and suspense keep up the pace. Opposing points of view about economic balance (including a few didactic passages) help readers understand that there are no black-and-white answers to the questions Strasser poses.

My Book Review:

Have you ever felt horrible for somebody, even though you had nothing to do with it? That’s what I felt for Dan, the main character in the book No Place.

Dan was a middle class teenager in his town of Meridian. He had everything a teen would want; he was popular, he dated the hottest girl in school, etc. But when his family loses their home, they have to live in Dignityville. Dignityville is a town of tents. Dan sees his life rapidly change. But Dan has a much bigger problem. He soon realizes that someone is trying to get rid of Dignityville; and hurting innocent people in the process.

The book gives a lot of detail of what Dan’s life is like being poor. It changes his relationships with his friends. Dan learns that money buys more than stuff, but friendships as well. Most people would be depressed and give up, but instead, Dan stayed true to himself. It is admirable that he tries to be strong and doesn’t give up. I did feel really bad for Dan, though, and for all the other people living in Dignityville. It gave me a new look on poor people.

Dignityville is described in great detail.  People there are hard-working, and want to expand and improve Dignityville. It surprised me that the people living in Dignityville are actually happy. Dan thinks that they are happier than wealthy people. It surprised me because they have no money, so shouldn’t they be sadder? But then I realized that people are happier in Dignityville because they are more free, and don’t have as much to worry about. That’s an interesting idea.

I thought the ending of the book was good, and the book was wrapped up with a nice little bow. It had a real ending. Even though it ended well, it still made me want to read more. There was still more of the story, I guess. It made me feel prepped for a sequel. I think a sequel would be cool because I really want to know what happened to Dan and his family. Do they stay poor? Or do they get money somehow? For some reason I think Dan would be OK either way.

The last book I read written by Todd Strasser was called Fallout. For any historical fiction lovers, like me, READ THAT TOO! It has a really cool plot twist. But, anyway, I was surprised how different Fallout and No Place were. No Place has the same writing style as Fallout, but the premise, the plot, the characters, etc., are completely different.

I rate this book 10 out of 10 stars. I wanted to keep turning the pages, because it was mysterious and cool. I said at the beginning of this review that I felt horrible for Dan. At the end of the book, I still felt pretty horrible for Dan, but not as much as I felt at the beginning of the book. I guess Dan got used to Dignityville, and so did I.