The Maze Runner Trilogy: Keeping Your Hopes Up Until The Very End

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Overall The Maze Runner trilogy is a stunning dystopian storyline that follows young teens who are scrambling through tests, or “variables” that adults have created in order to test their brains. They are doing all they can just to survive while scientists try to come up with blueprints as to why their brains are different than everyone else’s when it comes to The Flare, a deadly disease let loose on the world. I am most definitely a fan of the series, although it did take me forever to finish the last book in the trilogy (The Death Cure), due to a deterioration in storyline.

The first book, The Maze Runner, was adapted into a beautiful movie and was even more full to the brim with characters and descriptions than the film. (You can read my review of the movie from last week by clicking here.) The book introduced a world to the audience that was as mysterious as it was all-encompassing. Later, when the characters have fought tooth and nail and formed friendships along the way to escaping the place they’ve been put into (the maze), you have connected with each of them in various ways. The action in the novel is just as good as on the screen and if you weren’t taken by the depth of it in movie form, you will love how detailed the book is.

In The Scorch Trials you keep following the survivors from the maze as they are once again put into a shitty situation they have to scramble out of. Without going into too much detail as to what that situation is (and thus spoiling everything for you), I will say that there is a lot of turmoil amongst the survivors in this novel. Even still, you are given a well-formed storyline and continued character development. The characters you already knew get more action and new characters are introduced which you learn to begrudgingly accept (because they’re actually written well). By the end of this story you are ready to steamroll right through the third installment in order to get to the resolution.

During The Death Cure I found the storyline to kind of traipse off into some broken sort of path toward the ending. It starts out bold with a list of names from the survivors of the last two novels—but the result being the list of those which are not Immune to The Flare (and who subsequently caught it). Congratulations, your favourite character made it into the third book and now you get completely fucked over because they aren’t immune and you get to watch them go insane and die. Wonderful. No wait, that wasn’t supposed to be what I took away from the book. What you were supposed to take away was that after the hell everyone has gone through in all three of these books the left overs are supposed to establish a new world (basically) that somebody in power set up for them to go to if everything sucked back on Earth. It’s passed off as a ‘paradise’, but with the main character so haunted and tortured by this point you just wish the story had ended with just about anything else (like back when your favourite character was still alive, maybe). Seriously: while the storyline was inconsistent and seemed like Dashner had forgotten just what he’d had planned for the third installment, it did have character consistency and descriptions galore. If you’re a detail-oriented person you will still love this world that Dashner has set up for you, even though the ending is not your typical “everything’s alright now and everyone’s made it through.”

I would definitely recommend The Maze Runner series to 14+ aged readers (due to content and character death), but would warn that you may not like me very much for recommending it to you after you’ve finished the trilogy. I give the series a 4/5 stars, mostly due to the consistency and the detail of the world that Dashner formed. I took away that fifth star because of the (I feel) lack of coherent storyline in the final book.

Let’s Play: Cloudberry Kingdom!

A couple of days ago Torin and I downloaded Cloudberry Kingdom and proceeded to play the first 80 levels in about an hour.

Game Summary: Jump and bounce your way through each level, avoiding death and collecting gems along the way. The gems pay for power-ups that help you make your way through the crazier levels.

Watch the video below, click like and subscribe to see more videos of Torin winning every game ever!

Do I recommend Cloudberry Kingdom? I certainly do, but in small doses. It’s definitely frustrating when you keep dying at some points, so don’t try to power through and beat the game in one shot unless that’s the type of experience you’re looking for.

Want to play Cloudberry Kingdom? It’s available on Steam for single player and for online gameplay with friends!

Draw Your Readers in with a Hook

THE FIRST SENTENCE OF A BOOK IS A HANDSHAKE, PERHAPS AN EMBRACE. STYLE AND PERSONALITY ARE IRRELEVANT. THEY CAN BE FORMAL OR CASUAL. THEY CAN BE TALL OR SHORT OR FAT OR THIN. THEY CAN OBEY THE RULES OR BREAK THEM. BUT THEY NEED TO CONTAIN A CHARGE. A LIVE CURRENT, WHICH SHOCKS AND ILLUMINATES.

— Jhumpa Lahiri

The first sentence of a book is formally called a ‘hook’. You’re taught in school that it is what sets the mood for the entire novel and it is what draws the reader in to read it. It’s supposed to intrigue and excite the audience, just as a trailer for a feature film is supposed to. A writer has to pack all of that mystery and emotion into one single sentence.

How do you do that?

First of all don’t limit yourself. This first sentence may be important, but it doesn’t have to be perfect the very first time you start writing. I didn’t understand that part really, and it took me seven years to get past the first scene of a novel. Don’t be stupid; don’t be a perfectionist. This is what drafts are for. It will come in time and taking someone’s suggestion about it might be helpful. At least don’t immediately nix the idea.

Lahiri is correct in his earlier quote: your hook can be formal or casual. In this nature it helps to form whatever atmosphere you wish for the world, the character involved or the situation they are involved in. The first sentence is an introduction to the entire tale, so it could be as simple as “He was dead.” Or it could spin a wild story all on its own. Either way, you write it how you want the book to be perceived. A formal tone will give the appearance of a non-fiction book (even in a fictional setting, if your character is formal with the audience it will give the story some authenticity. Informality will make the audience feel more at ease, but doesn’t necessarily take away from the authenticity of the story.

Don’t be afraid to make the first sentence dialog, as long as it still packs a punch. Usually this comes in the form of jumping in during the middle of a conversation. Having it be the response to a question, or even the question itself would be eye-catching. Starting from there you can draw the audience into your plot easily. If you want to go with an action scene, don’t start the story right before everything gets chaotic—the readers aren’t going to want the dull details on something they have no reason to care about yet. Jump them right into the action—alarms blaring, a car chase, something that gets their adrenaline pumping (mostly) because they have no idea what is going on, so they stick around to read more.

What I’m trying to tell you, my dear writers, is that you can’t be afraid to think outside of the box in order to draw in your audience. The hook of the story is important and shouldn’t be ignored until you are on your final draft—it should be crafted especially for your story with emphasis on introducing the would-be readers to your world, plot and characters.

The Maze Runner: Bestselling Novel and an Amazing, Must-See Movie!

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I first read James Dashner’s The Maze Runner a few years ago, well after it had its sequels written and it had become a bestseller. Certainly it was below my reading level, but honestly I read more as an escape than anything. There’s a world that draws me in and makes connections between myself and the characters? I’m there! The Maze Runner delivered as promised. When I heard that there was a movie coming out—and better yet it was starring one of my favourite actors—I immediately set my sights on seeing it the weekend it came out. So Saturday night I went to see it.

With stars like Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Ki Hong Lee it’s no wonder that the movie was so stellar. Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario and Blake Cooper were no slumps either. In fact, the entire cast was pretty darn amazing! The film on a whole stuck relatively close to the book, although there were some differences that had me scrambling to figure out how it would all come together in the sequels. Needless to say, I will be waiting with bated breath, but I liked the differences well enough.

Mostly the scant amount of Gladers (as the boys in The Maze Runner call themselves) in the movie as a whole got to me. In the books it was impressed upon you several times that Thomas, the main character, still didn’t know everyone even after all they had been through together and he still referred to them as ‘some Glader he didn’t know the name of’. So that would mean there was quite a good amount of them, as well as the approximation of only a handful having died out of the many who were sent up into the Glade (one per month for three years, at least). So yeah, the fact that they didn’t have very many Gladers did cause me to wonder how they were going to deal with later scenes, but perhaps it was due to the creators and producers not having the time for the more extraneous characters or the ability to cast for them either monetarily or time-wise. Perhaps it was more due to keeping a more coherent story for the audience and forge connections with the major characters as opposed to the myriads that you meet in the books. No matter what the reasoning was, it threw me off and made me ask lots of questions.

However, there was plenty of awesome in the movie: from the action scenes to the emotions and facial expressions—everything about The Maze Runner was pure gold. The casting in and of itself was amazing. I will admit that Dylan O’Brien looked a bit more buff than I suspected Thomas was (I pictured him more lanky in the books), making him look older than the other Gladers by quite a bit, but his portrayal of the character more than made up for that.

The big reason why you should watch the movie? It’s story arc is an interesting one, keeping you guessing even through the second and third installments. I completely suggest reading the books first, as I always love noting the disparities and chatting about them with other fans, but just watching the movie alone should give you a good enough overview of what you would be getting into with the novels if you decide to watch first. As of any film interpretation of a book, it leaves a lot of substance out, but what it lacks there, it makes up for in quality. I highly suggest The Maze Runner, although I do caution it for more mature audiences—there is death and such involved as this is a dystopian story. Overall I give The Maze Runner a 5/5 stars.

Officially off of Hiatus!

Starting next Monday I will have a new system I’m going by here on Parkyr’s Perspective! I will be posting three-ish times a week:

Monday will be Monday In Review: Basically the same as Marvelous Mondays, I will be reviewing something!

Wednesdays will be Trying to Write on Wednesdays: Same as Writing Wednesdays, I’ll be talking about all different aspects of writing.

Fridays will be Friday is Game Time: I may have a video from me playing earlier in the week, I may sit down and play live for a couple of hours during the day/evening/night, I may talk about consoles, computers or anything relating to gaming. This may also pertain to board games! Anything game-like goes here!

If there are other posts during the week they may be random bits of news, thoughts, opinions or rants. Anything I feel like putting on there. So remember, once Monday, September 22, 2014 rolls around I’ll be starting up posts with zeal! Keep your eyes open for future posts!

-Parkyr