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Trapped – Review

Trapped by Michael NorthropTitle: Trapped
Author: Michael Northrop

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 240
Published: 2011

Genre: YA
The dice landed on: 3
Did I finish?: Yes
Do I like the cover?: Yes, very much.

One-sentence summary: 7 high school kids are caught in their school while the snow keeps piling up outside.

It starts snowing in the morning. As the hour go by Tattawa High School decides to send the students home. When everyone else either get picked up or get on a bus home, seven kids stay behind expecting to be picked up later on. That doesn’t happen.

Scotty tells the story. He stays behind with his friends Pete and Jason. The other students staying behind are Krista, Julie, Les and Elijah. A teacher also stays behind, but he soon leaves hoping to get somewhere he can call for help. They never see him again. Days go by and the snow keeps falling.

First I want to compliment Phil Falco who created the book design. The cover is very good, but the pièce de résistance is the way each chapter starts. The bottom part of the page is white, representing the snow on the ground outside a window. The top of the page shows snow falling. As the book goes on the fallen snow gets deeper and deeper while the falling snow occupies less and less of the page.  During the last third or so the snow on the ground occupies the whole page. It’s great.

This story has every potential of becoming really good, but it didn’t. I never felt really close to any of the characters, maybe apart from Scotty. The author didn’t really manage to convey how bad the situation was becoming. I understood it on a theoretical level, but I never really felt the fear. I liked the ending though, it had some of the qualities the rest of the book was lacking. All in all it’s not a bad book, but it could have been so much better.

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Dragon’s Time – Review

Dragon's Time by Anne and Todd McCaffreyTitle: Dragon’s Time
Author:  Anne & Todd McCaffrey

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Edition: Hardback
Pages: 321
Originally published: 2011

Genre: Science fiction
The dice landed on: 3
Did I finish?: Yes
Do I like the cover?: Yes

One-sentence summary: Dragonriders are “timing it” a lot to save Pern.

I read the whole book through. Mostly because it was an exciting story set in the, for me, familiar landscape of Pern. Lots of engaging and sympatetic characters and great dragons.

But….
It all gets too complicated. There are so many characters jumping back in forth in time and space that I have a hard time keeping up. There are also a guy who can predict the future  and keeps giving other characters snippets about what is going to happen later. As I mentioned before, there are too many people to keep track of, and then, when dragon’s are impressed the new male dragonriders change their name. They change it to an abbreviation of their old name, and I know this always happens on Pern, but it kept keeping up with all the names even harder for someone who was already a bit annoyed. And don’t get me started on all the romances going on in all this…

So, to sum it up: The exciting how-are-they-going-to-resolve-this-predicament kept me reading. The too-many-characters-with-their-relationships-jumping-back-and-forth-in-time-and-space kept me annoyed.

If you’re already familiar with Pern, and a bit more patient than me, this is an OK read. If you haven’t read any Pern books I’d recommend starting with the first book Anne McCaffrey published about Pern: “Dragonflight“.

Pern books – in order of publishing.
Pern – books in Pern historical order.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner by James DashnerImagine being a lab rat, constantly being made to run and try to solve a maze with traps that changes on a daily basis, and you will have a fairly good idea what it is like to be one of the boys (and one girl) in The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

It has been sitting in my TBR-pile for a while and I’ve looking forward to reading it. The premise looked great and I loved The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins that it frequently gets compared to. But, I ended up finishing it with mixed feelings.

It starts off great with Thomas waking up in a dark and noisy room. His name is the only thing he can remember about himself.  The mysterious room is moving and soon he finds himself among a bunch of unknown boys in an unknown place.

And this is where I found myself getting frustrated as a reader. The story is dragged through several pages where the boys make Thomas wait for an explanation to what this place is and any information he gets comes in small unsatisfying dribbles. That’s just annoying…  for Thomas and for me as a reader. On general terms I certainly don’t object to an author witholding information to build up the story, but I do object to it seemingly being done to make the book a little bit longer. Maybe the writer and publisher thought that it would prolong and intensify the suspense? I don’t know.

Luckily the pace gets better again. Except for some screeching halts where Thomas laments his lost memory or there are further explanations that has to be hauled out of one of the boys who’s been at the Glade for a while, it’s actually very exciting.

I also wish I could have felt more emotionally connected to the characters. I have a feeling I would have felt more of that connection if I hadn’t been at odds with the book so early on.

As mentioned above, I have mixed feelings. I think that a more tightly edited version of the story in The Maze Runner has everything that is needed for making it a great read and a great first installment in a trilogy. And while I don’t like the way the story limps on in the beginning I have to applaud the way it picks up again as the book goes on.  The cliffhanger ending is a perfect way to make the readers (the ones who didn’t fall off the hook early in the book never to be re-hooked) come back to find on what happens as the story continues in The Scorch Trials.

What could have been a 4+ ends up as a 3+ because of the irksome bits of suspensus interruptus. So there!

Some less irked and more plot spoiling opinions about the book:

Some light reading

Blogging by Jill Walker Rettberg
Ever since Jill published her book about blogging in 2008 I have been planning to read it. It took some time, but I finally got around to it in May 2010.

This is not a how-to book about blogging but a look at how sosial media function in society with a special emphasis on blogging. The book look at different blogs like the journalistic blogs, the political blogs, personal blogs, blogging firms and blogging institutions and look at how they differ and are the same.

In addition to the different genres in blogging the book also look at the history of blogging and its relationship to other kinds of online and offline media. It is a light, engaging and educational text. I like that Jill included a list of all the blogs mentioned so that I can look them up and check them out for myself if I’d like to.

As previously mentioned the book was published in 2008 and things happen fast on the Internet. This ment that the part about Facebook already felt a bit dated, but this is no huge drawback on the book as a whole as Facebook is not the focus point for the book. The two pages about how to start you own blog are probably also a bit dated, but I skipped them because I’ve done this a few times in my life.

All in all this is a very good book about anyone interested in blogging.

Jill started blogging as far back as October 2000 on jill/txt (first in both Norwegian and English, later mainly in English) and she has also published an article about learning in public (students and weblogs).

Other people have read Blogging too:

Let the right one in by John Ajvide Lindqvist

I’m a wimp when it comes to horror stories, and I have to admit that Let the right one in is a bit too scary for my taste.

The book takes place in 1981 in Blackberg, a quiet suburb of Stockholm.  The middleaged alcholics in town meet at the local chinese restaurant, Tommy dislikes the policeman his mother is dating, Håkan has to kill for someone and Oskar is being bullied and dreams of revenge. Then there is Eli, the strange girl that has moved in next door to Oskar.

It is very well done. The relationship between Eli and Oskar is gripping and scary at the same time, as is the relationship between the pedophile Håkan and Eli.

I have two main reasons not to give the book full marks. One is that there are too many voices telling their different stories and I could do with one or two less. The second is that it’s just too scary for me, so people who are less wimpy can feel free to assume a 4,5.

Other people with more spoilsers and more views about the book.

The book has also been turned into a movie that has received excellent reviews.

I can’t think straight av Shamim Sarif
When I first came out as a lesbian I read every scrap of lesbian and gay literature I could lay my hands on. I’ve become a lot more picky as the years have gone by and now I usually only read about lesbian characters if they happen to show up in a book I’ve decided to read because I’ve read good reviews or I have to read it at work. But, on a trip to London I bought the lesbian romance novel I can’t think straight by Shamim Sarif.
The christian palestinian Tala and the muslim indian Leyla both lives in London. When they meet Tala is busy preparing for her wedding with her fiancee (he is fiancee no.4) Sparks fly and Tala and Leyla has a short affair before Tala takes off to Amman in Jordan to marry number 4. The wedding never takes place (what a surprise) and the two women eventually comes out to their families.

This could have been a good book. A story of two lesbian women from cultures where it is very hard to be a lesbian could be really interesting. Sadly the book falls into every romance cliché pit it can find. I give it a 3 because of the interesting cultural bits that gets a good treatment and for making the womens fathers interesting characters who sadly enough hardly get any place at all in the story.

Other views:

The book has also been filmed with the author as director.

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