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  • Jeff Somers 8:58 pm on 2015/10/27 Permalink
    Tags: james dashner, , ,   

    James Dashner’s The Game of Lives Answers Readers’ Most Burning Questions 

    When you start reading The Maze Runner series, by James Dashner, you’re embarking on a journey. Dashner doesn’t write simple thrillers—his books are wildly imaginative and complex, building tense and complicated plots that set readers up for serious withdrawal between releases.

    So the arrival of The Game of Lives, the third and final book in Dashner’s Mortality Doctrine series, is a gift to his fans and to new readers about to discover the series. It answers all of readers’ most burning questions, while serving up new twists, surprises, and an action-packed story.

    The Solutions
    The Game of Lives picks up right where The Rules of Thoughts left off, with Michael, Bryson, and Sarah in the back seat of a car. Sarah’s parents have just broken Michael out of prison following his strange encounter with an unnamed man and, separately, Agent Weber. Dashner doesn’t waste time throwing Michael and his friends back into the fight against Kaine and his horrific plans for humanity—and he doesn’t hold back in finally revealing the truth behind Kaine’s creation, the Mortality Doctrine itself, and, most shockingly…well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. It’s a fast-paced series of revelations that will leave your head spinning.

    The True Death
    Stories taking place in a virtual reality setting have to work hard to maintain their stakes—after all, when “reality” is mutable and death just means a reboot, why does anything matter? So Dashner’s inclusion of a “true death” in the world of VirtNet—a death that means the end of a life in both the Wake and the Sleep—is absolutely vital to keep the tension high. Michael and his friends are literally risking their lives by fighting for the truth and the defeat of the Mortality Doctrine. The whole world, in fact, is at risk of actually ending.

    Twists and Turns
    To say that Dashner makes your head spin with the twists and turns of this concluding story is an understatement. Michael teams up and allies with the one character you won’t believe he ever would, and the true enemy they’re all fighting against shifts and changes as the story unfolds—but it’s all seamlessly done. As everyone’s true agendas are laid bare, there’s a moment when everything that has gone before is turned on its head in the most thrilling way possible.

    It All Ends in The Wake
    One of the most exciting choices Dashner makes is where he ends his story. Will its final pages play out in The Sleep, the VirtNet worlds where anything is possible and code can be bent to your will in exciting ways? Or will his story conclude in The Wake, the flesh-and-blood world? His choices serves to brilliantly up the stakes, and to answer lingering questions about the mystery man who visited Michael in prison at the end of The Rule of Thoughts, the resolution of which is one of the neatest tricks Dashner pulls off.

    That Last Line
    After a surprising ending, Dashner gives loyal readers a contemplative epilogue that gives us one last visit with Michael—and also offers a ray of hope, lightening a grueling event that takes place earlier in the book. Without undoing anything or playing any sort of “bait and switch” with his own rules, Dashner ends the story with a killer line that will have fans of the Mortality Doctrine cheering.

  • Jeff Somers 6:03 pm on 2015/09/11 Permalink
    Tags: , james dashner, , , the scorch trials,   

    Why You Need to Read The Scorch Trials Before Seeing the Movie 

    Sometimes it seems like a shame that age designations are attached to fiction, because good stories are just good stories.

    Case in point: The Maze Runner series, by James Dashner. A Lord of the Flies for modern sci-fi fans, these books are inventive, pulse-pounding, and plain old fun for anyone who likes adventure stories with well-drawn characters you’ll care about.

    Book one in the series, The Maze Runner, was adapted into a hit movie last year, and the adaptation of book two, The Scorch Trialshits theaters September 18. While it promises to be great, you should always read the book before seeing the movie. Here’s why The Scorch Trials needs to be on your read-right-now list:

    To Know What You’re Missing
    Films made from books are called adaptations for a reason: they’re not always 100% faithful to the source material. The Maze Runner film made some changes to the story—especially the ending—that we won’t spoil here, and it’s very likely the film adaptation of The Scorch Trials will make similar tweaks. These changes are usually necessary for the transition from the written word to a visual medium, but if you don’t read the book you’ll never know what you’re missing in the original.

    To See Your Favorite Parts Come to Life
    There’s something magical about reading an exciting sequence in a novel and then seeing the incredible visuals you imagined come to life. When you read The Maze Runner you had a mental image of the characters, the glade, the maze itself, and, of course, the horrific Grievers, and seeing those elements brought to life was amazing. After reading the sequel, who doesn’t have an idea about what The Scorch—the equatorial area of the Earth transformed by solar flares into a barren desert spotted with the remnants of cities—looks like? The first reveal of this incredible setting alone will be worth the price of a ticket, and sequences like the climactic battle with WICKED-created monsters and Thomas’s ploy to save his allies will be more thrilling when you know what’s coming—but have no idea what it will look like.

    Because It’s Complicated
    The Maze Runner Saga isn’t a simplistic story—there is a lot going on. The first book ended with one of the great twists of modern science fiction, a twist that not only changed your perception of everything that went before but opened up an incredible universe readers couldn’t wait to dive back into. The Scorch Trials picks up the sense of paranoia and complexity and delves even deeper, exploring the truth about whether WICKED is truly good, about the Flare, the Cranks, and where the experiment begins and ends—if it ever does end. Trust us: movies are always forced to take some shortcuts when telling a complex story, and your best bet for truly understanding what’s going on—and appreciating some of the foreshadowing—is to read the book first.

    To Know Which Side You’re On
    This story goes deeper than telling a postapocalyptic tale about human experimentation. If the world was devastated in a way that might actually spell the end of humanity itself, would that justify any horrific acts, any crimes committed by a group seeking to save the world? Or are our individual rights as human beings more important? The books ultimately ask you which side you’d be on: WICKED’s, or that of the rebels who seek to disrupt their plans—and who fear and resent those who are immune to the plague that’s ripping through the rest of the population.

    Because It’s a Great Book
    There have been great movies made from so-so books, but in this case reading the book is definitely worth it—and so is reading the other books in the saga, The Death Cure and The Kill Order. This is a science fiction story that explores some crazy ideas as well as the darker side of human nature, and explores what lengths people will go to in order not only to survive, but to save what’s left of the human race and our civilization. The Scorch Trials will undoubtedly be a great movie and one of the big hits of the summer, but do yourself a favor and read the books first—you’ll be glad you did.

  • BN Editors 2:58 pm on 2015/03/02 Permalink
    Tags: danielle paige, dorothy must die, james dashner, , karen bao, , paper town, rachel hartman, , richelle mead, rick yancey, , , the 5th wave, ,   

    March’s Top Picks for Teens 

    This month’s most exciting teen books include a psychological thriller We Were Liars fans will love, fantasy sequels we’ve been waiting for, and a dystopian debut that takes readers to the moon. Here are the YA reads everyone will be talking about in March:

    Vanishing Girls, by Lauren Oliver
    Nick and Dara are sisters who define themselves by their differences: Nick’s the responsible one whose achievements are taken for granted, and Dara’s the wild one whose failures are treated as equally unsurprising. Their bone-deep bond is tested by their opposing roles…then broken on the night a car crash leaves Nick shaken and Dara permanently scarred. As the two spend a long, boiling summer alternately chasing and avoiding each other (and the boy they’re both in love with), a young girl’s disappearance rocks their town, and Nick starts to uncover dangerous secrets about her little sister’s life. It all leads to the kind of explosive ending that will have you closing the book and starting right over from page one.

    The Assassin’s Blade, by Sarah J. Maas
    A collection of five prequel novellas to Sarah J. Maas’s epic Throne of Glass follows maverick Celaena through the varied terrain of Adarlan as she sets out on a series of deadly missions. She strikes out against tyranny and fights for liberation—but is working in direct opposition to the master she purportedly serves. Throne of Glass fans will thrill at Celaena’s noble betrayals, and new readers will find themselves dropped head-first into a fantasy world they won’t want to leave.

    Shadow Scale, by Rachel Hartman
    In 2012 Hartman introduced fantasy readers to Seraphina, a dragon-human hybrid and reluctant heroine. In this epic, hotly anticipated sequel, Seraphina is caught in the middle of a war between the human and supernatural worlds, and goes on a journey to round up her fellow half dragons. Rich world-building and a brilliant reimagining of dragonlore make this duology a must-read.

    Dorothy Must Die Stories, by Danielle Paige
    In last year’s Dorothy Must Die, Paige carried readers away to a darkly reimagined Oz, where Dorothy’s a tyrant, the wicked witches aren’t all bad, and modern-day Kansas girl Amy Gumm is the land’s best hope for salvation. In this collection of three prequel novellas, Paige reveals the backstories of Dorothy, the Wizard, and Glinda the (not so) Good Witch. Read it now in preparation for the release of Dorothy sequel The Wicked Will Rise.

    Dove Arising, by Karen Bao
    In this dystopian debut from teen writer Karen Bao, humans have long since fled an irreparable earth for colony life on the moon. When 15-year-old Phaet’s journalist mother is forcibly removed by government operatives, her children face poverty and, worse, potential exile to the dangerous Shelter. Phaet gives up her dreams of becoming a scientist to join the militia, where she must rise through the ranks to save her family and herself.

    Paper Townsby John Green
    When dreamy girl next door Margo Roth Spiegelman shows up at his bedroom window late one night, Quentin’s sure everything’s about to change. The two embark on a moonlit revenge mission on Margo’s high school enemies before sneaking back into their bedrooms after dawn. Quentin’s ecstatic…until Margo doesn’t show up for school. After her parents report her missing, Quention becomes convinced Margo’s left a trail of clues leading to her whereabouts, and that she might be in danger. Armed only with a hunch, he and his friends race across the country to find her, never considering the fact that Margo may not want to be found. This is a must-read (or a must-reread) before the book hits the big screen this June.

    Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard
    In Aveyard’s medieval-tinged world, Silvers are the elites and Reds are the peasants that serve them. The names refer to the color of their blood, and the Silvers’ control derives from their inborn supernatural abilities. But all that changes with the arrival of a lowly Red, Mare Barrow, at the Silver Palace—and the unexpected awakening of her own astonishing power. Her station immediately changes, but not everyone involved in transforming her from a servant to a royal has good intentions. Her new status could prove to be a death sentence…or it could herald the start of a revolution.

    The Ruby Circle (A Bloodlines novel), by Richelle Mead
    Sydney is a witch and an Alchemist, one of a human order tasked with keeping the vampire world a secret. Adrian is a Moroi, part of a (mostly) benevolent vampire sect in constant conflict with the evil Strigoi vampires. In the final installment of Mead’s bestselling Bloodlines series, Sydney and Adrian’s forbidden romance has been discovered, making them the target of anger and retribution from both the Alchemists and the Moroi. But they soon find themselves facing a darker challenge when someone they love is put at risk and old foes and new discoveries threaten to change everything.

    Hollow City, by Ransom Riggs
    When last we saw Miss Peregine’s intrepid, eternally youthful crew, they were on the move, leaving the school that had lent them supernatural shelter for so many years. Riggs’ blend of fast-paced, supernatural mystery and mind-bending vintage photographs made his debut novel a runaway success, and now his peculiar children, led by an outsider with an unexpected link to Miss Peregrine’s charges, are heading to London. Expect more eerie photographs and the same eccentric magical milieu, transposed onto the clashing old-and-new landscape of modern-day London.

    The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey
    Four waves of alien attack, from pestilence to mind control, have decimated Earth’s population, leaving over 90 percent of humans dead. Orphaned survivor Cassie was separated from her brother while waiting for the fifth wave, and sets out on a deadly trek to retrieve him. Yancey’s smart, acclaimed thriller boasts an insistent pace, scary plot twists, and all-too-believable world building. It’s a perfect gateway book for reluctant teen readers.

    The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner series #2), by James Dashner
    In bestselling series starter The Maze Runner, Thomas and his fellow denizens of the mysterious maze break free of their strange prison, but they’re not out of danger yet. There’s the fact of Thomas’s eerie new tattoo (“To Be Killed By Group B”) and those awful screams he hears, not to mention the suspicion that their seeming saviors might not be so helpful after all. Dashner creates a larger, even more compelling world in The Scorch Trials than he did for its dystopian predecessor, and you’ve got to read it before it hits the big screen this fall.

    Shop all teen books >
  • BN Editors 8:54 pm on 2014/08/06 Permalink
    Tags: Comic-Con, , james dashner, , ,   

    Author James Dashner on Seeing the The Maze Runner Movie at Comic-Con 

    James Dashner

    (Credit: Maria Wood)

    James Dashner is the author of the blockbuster YA series The Maze Runner. The film adaptation of the first book will be in theaters on September 19th. James was kind enough to share his experiences viewing the film for the first time during this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego.

    I’ve attended the San Diego Comic-Con a few times over the years, and it’s always a crazy experience: the costumes, the lines, the jam-packed floor. But this year was a really special one for me. Barnes & Noble asked me to write a guest blog post about my experience because this year I was there to help launch the movie based on my book, The Maze Runner. It’s hard to express just how surreal and thrilling it was in words, but I’ll try! I’m not sure I’ve ever had such a relatively short period of time filled with such extreme emotion. Things got better and better over the course of the Con, and just when I thought I might be done reaching new heights of emotion, something else would happen. There’s so much to cover! It was nuts, and I even cried—more than once!—ruining my reputation as a macho mountain-man.

    But I can’t possibly describe it all, so I’ve decided to focus on three aspects:

    1. Seeing The Maze Runner film for the first time.

    2. Watching it again with fans during Comic-Con.

    3. Sharing this and being with my writing career family.

    So here goes:

    1. I was lucky enough to be very involved in the making of the film. Very lucky. I’ll thank the folks at 20th Century Fox for that experience until the day I die. I was honored to be asked to consult on the script. I stayed in constant contact with Wes Ball, the director, and Wyck Godfrey, the producer. I visited the set twice. I was there when they recorded the musical score. I even have a cameo! (Let me know if you spot me.)

    Because of that involvement, I knew that the movie was to my liking. But I hadn’t yet seen the final complete and edited product, special effects added, with all the music, sounds, etc.

    On the Wednesday before Comic-Con, Fox brought me to their studios and I watched the movie.

    Can you imagine what that was like? I love movies. I really, really love movies. And this one was based on a book I wrote! From the moment the oh-so-famous 20th Century Fox opening logo appeared, with all the glory of its drums and horns, my chest swelled with emotion and my eyes teared up.

    And then came the movie itself. By that time my expectations had risen to unrealistic, crazy highs. And yet I can honestly report that somehow those expectations were exceeded!

    I know I’m biased. The most biased. I wrote the darn book. But shouldn’t I also be the harshest critic? I don’t know. All I can say is that, to me, the movie was perfect. The cast, the direction, the cinematography, the writing, the flow and pace, the visuals, the sounds. And the music. Oh, the music! (I have always written while listening to my favorite movie soundtracks. Surreal.) The best word I can use to describe the experience of watching the film is transcendent. I cried, I laughed, I trembled from head to toe. Good thing the room was dark, because I’m pretty sure I looked like a crazy person.

    2. The very next night, Fox did a prerelease screening at the Gaslamp Theater in San Diego especially for fans of the book. People started lining up at six in the morning to get a seat. I still feel terrible about the many fans who showed up but weren’t able to make it inside. I wish the theater could’ve seated everyone. But those who did get in provided me with yet another unforgettable moment.

    I was excited to attend this screening with the fans as well as with Wes Ball (director), Dylan O’Brien (Thomas), Kaya Scodelario (Teresa), and Will Poulter (Gally). We introduced the film and did a Q&A afterward. I sat right between four of the book’s biggest fans as the movie started up. It was even better the second time! I’m not sure which I enjoyed most—watching the film itself (a little less like a crazy person, catching the details) or seeing and hearing the reactions of those around me.

    There were tears. Gasps. Screams. Lots of hands going to mouths and OMGs. Cheers and applause throughout the whole movie. Again, a biased audience, already in love with the books (or maybe Dylan O’Brien). But the response couldn’t have been more positive. Fox told me later just how much Tumblr and Twitter exploded with commentary. And I was there!—the first time fans witnessed the magic that Wes Ball and Fox created. I’ll never forget it.

    3. Those two experiences weren’t the only things making me cry during this unforgettable weekend. (Seriously, I really don’t cry that much. I’m not sure what came over me at Comic-Con.) I was also very touched by having so many people from my career path attending the event with me. The only way it could’ve been more perfect was if my wife, and kids, had been present.

    My agent, Michael Bourret, was there. My editor at Random House, Krista Marino. Those two are more responsible for my career than anyone else. Lots of other people from the publisher also came. And then there was the Fox side of things. The film’s publicist, Catherine Culbert. Wes and Wyck and Dylan and Kaya and Will and so many others. My friends from Gotham Group, such a huge part of making the film happen, and happen in the right way. I could go on. I’m so blessed that all of these folks aren’t just supremely talented. They’re also genuine and down to earth and funny and cool. Yes, cool. Really a great word. A lifetime of writing and I can’t come up with a better word to describe these fantastic people because I like cool.

    James Dashner, Wes Ball (director), and lead actors Will Poulter (Gally), Kaya Scodelario (Teresa) and Dylan O'Brien (Thomas)

    Lead actors Will Poulter (Gally), Kaya Scodelario (Teresa), and Dylan O’Brien (Thomas), along with James Dashner (author) and Wes Ball (director)

    There you have it. A tiny glimpse into the whirlwind that was my Comic-Con experience this year. Unforgettable, to say the least. I’m not sure why I’ve been so lucky to have such things happen. But please don’t pinch me. If I’m dreaming, I don’t wanna wake up.

    See ya at the movies.

    Are you excited to see The Maze Runner in theaters this fall?

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