Book reviews: Part 1

It’s been a while since I wrote a book review. They were meant to become a regular thing, but they didn’t really turn out that way…. to make up for it, I’m going to do six reviews at once! I know right? It’s because I recently read a shed-load of books (most of them have been finished, others abandoned midway). I don’t really want to clog up your reader with book reviews, so I thought I’d split it into two parts. This is Part 1…

Also, spoilers are in white.

The Scorch Trials – By James Dashner

So I got the Maze Runner for my birthday as a present from my sister. It ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I was anxious to find out what would happen next.

I have somewhat mixed feelings for this book, so it’s probably best to go through the pros and cons. On the plus, this book is an absolute page-turner. I stayed up till half eleven to finish it off. Near the end it’s just dahh! :O It’s a massive adrenalin rush for sure, and for that alone, I would give it five stars.

But…

That’s it. It’s a rush, but it doesn’t really have the best plot in the world. By no means am I comparing it to something like, I don’t know, Fast and Furious – it actually has a decent enough storyline. But things just happen which aren’t quite believable. This isn’t that certain things are too magical or whatever – things just don’t always make sense.

To give you an idea of how crazy it is, say that a family member came up to you and ripped off a mask, revealing themselves to be of the opposite gender all along. This is disturbing enough, but then this person pulls off another mask, revealing themselves to be as they were before. Your family member gushes on your shoulder and says how they needed to see how shocked you would react in order to save the world from a mental disease, and that they had never wanted to do it.

?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

This is actually similar to a scene in the book (hence the spoiler alert), although someone appears to change their personality – rather than their appearance.

In short, a good adrenalin rush, but certain things don’t make sense, and are done just for shock value.

***

Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) – By Jerome K. Jerome

I was scrolling through the Big Read list, looking for a book where it’s copyright had expired so I could read it on the Internet. :P (I know, I know, not the best way to look for books, but I was running low). When I found that Three Men In a Boat was written in 1889, I did a quick search and then downloaded it. It’s about three men called Jerome, Harris and George who, after thinking they have every disease known to man apart from housemaid’s knee, decide to journey along the Thames along with their rowdy dog, Montmorency.

The whole book is full of classic Brit humour (which I read an American reviewer say was ‘understating the massive and overstating the tiny’ – as close to a perfect definition as I’ve seen). Jerome laments over the fact that they have no mustard for pages and pages, and then glosses over major events. He’s so impervious to how hilarious it is that it makes it even funnier.

To give you some background, the book has never been out of print (even though it initially had bad reviews), and it’s known as a comedy classic. I can’t tell you too many of the anecdotes, but to give you an idea of the stuff you’ll be getting, here’s just one. This is technically a spoiler, so I won’t ruin the punch line, but it’s only one anecdote of many in the book, so it’s not that big a deal.

At one point in the book, Jerome K. Jerome (the poor kid…) talks about how the best fishermen are the ones who can spin big whopping lies successfully. Once, on entering an inn, him and a friend notice a fish that’s almost prehistoric in it’s size. Various people come into the inn, claiming that the fish is there’s and spouting some fantastical story. Finally the innkeeper himself comes in, and when Jerome and his friend ask about the fish, he laughs, telling them that it was him who had caught the fish. But then, when Harris tries to adjust the fish so that it looks straighter, it falls onto the floor and crashes into a million pieces. It was a plaster of Paris! In another instance, Harris gets attacked by swans, which is also great fun.

Some of the bad points… when it was published, the book was actually meant as a serious guidebook, so there are these random history lessons and pieces of flowery writing every two chapters or so. There was also lots of sailing terminology, so I didn’t get everything that was being said.

Overall…

**** and 1/2

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – By Lewis Carroll

This is the children’s classic written in 1865 by Lewis Carroll. It’s a realistic approach on what would you would find if you fell down a rabbit hole – dirt. Lots of dirt. And maybe some rabbits.

I tried and failed to read this book a few years ago and didn’t really enjoy it, but reading it again I actually really liked it. My favourite bit was probably the Gryphon and the Mock-Turtle. I just loved those clever play-on-words, much more so as I have recently developed a fondness for terrible puns. Wait, let me tell you one I made up…

Warning: On searching the Internet, this is actually quite a common pun, which is to be expected as it’s a pretty obvious play on words, but I did actually use my own intellect to make it up, I promise. I have also put it in white, like a spoiler, as I don’t believe in forcing my puns on the world. You have been warned…

Three people were sitting at a table, called James (a policeman), John and Joe. Joe threw some salt in John’s eye, to which James said ‘That’s a salt!’

Seriously though, it’s great – a quick, witty read. The characters were all loony, and the plot was non-existent but charming, but I would read it for how it’s written.

*****

You may notice that two of these books were on the Big Read. I have started to cross them off, and so far this year I have read five of them, so I’ve set up a Big Read page. Feel free to compare your repertoire with mine, which is so far quite bad (17/200). Probably the most advanced book I’ve read so far was ‘Midnight’s Children’ by Salman Rushdie, which I’ll be reviewing next week, along with ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ by C. S. Lewis, ‘Mort’ by Terry Pratchett. I’ll also be looking at the books I abandoned. Probably because of my low attention span. :P

Until next time. :)

Joe.

P.S. Hope you all had a great Valentine’s day, whether you were happily single like me, or all loved up. :)

P.P.S. Half term at present, so more posts on the way!

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