**Welcome to Weekly Reads! Each Monday I’ll share reviews for my most recent reads. For more reviews, please visit my page, The Reads: From A to Z.**
Well, after a week of plentiful reads and great Fall weather… it all came crashing down while watching last night’s debate. Neither is a candidate I can really stand behind, but at least they were able to discuss a bit more policy last night instead of carrying on with the theatrics… well, less than usual.
That said, don’t wait for election day to act. Check your voting status, download a sample ballot, do your homework. There’s more at stake than just the presidential candidacy this fall!
The Fever Code by James Dashner
Before the maze, there was just a boy. Young and alone, Thomas is rescued by W.I.C.K.E.D., given clean clothes, food, a bed, educated, and kept safe… but beyond the surface, he can sense their deception. Why is he alone – separated from the other children he’s heard but not seen? As he ages, Thomas is allowed more contact, but as group efforts to escape fail, he’s punished with isolation. With higher stakes and closer kept secrets, Theresa’s friendship is all that remains. Together they’ll design the maze, and together they’ll find the cure, but at what cost?
“One must know the problem better than the solution, or the solution becomes the problem.”
Finally, some answers! Though not at all what I expected, it finally makes sense! How easy everything came to Thomas, almost like a memory, how strong their friendships became (they were already friends!), and even how dodgy Theresa could be… it all fits into place. I never suspected Thomas would know the Gladers personally before surveilling their every move in the maze. While I’m glad to see all my favorites, especially Newt and Minho, it didn’t sit well with me – how could he not tell them about the grievers, how could he not tell them about the maze at all? Not that W.I.C.K.E.D. would have allowed it, or that they would even remember going into the maze, but it feels like a betrayal, something that the Thomas in the earlier novels would never have done. And what about Group B? I still wonder about the other two – Aris and Rachel, what about them? While the prequel does reveal more about Aris, it still leaves a lot to be presumed. Perhaps even room for another book?
Rating: 4 Stars Goodreads
The Graces by Laure Eve
Alice is the new girl at school. Teaming with social anxiety, she spends her lunches alone in the library reading, until she meets the Graces. Sure, she’s heard of them, everyone’s heard of them, especially after what happened at their 8th birthday party with the Ouija board… Even with rumors of magic and broomsticks, the Graces are the most popular kids in school: Summer, the youngest, is always flocked by a gaggle of girls trying to be her friend, same as her older sister, Thalia, and their brother Fenrin, well, he never has to worry who he’ll bring to the prom, but no one’s friends with the Graces for very long – how else could they keep their secrets hidden? Meeting Alice, now called River, they’ve seemingly found the fourth sibling they never knew they were missing – she’s a natural fit with the Graces, until her own secrets get in the way, starting with her father’s mysterious disappearance.
“…I was not like those prattling, chattering things with their careful head tosses and thick cloying lip gloss. Inside, buried down deep where no one could see it, was the core of me, burning endlessly, coal black and coal bright.”
The Graces was disappointingly all hype – no cookie for me. Reviewed by many as a mix of The Craft and The Virgin Suicides… the characters give off more of a Cullen vibe than anything else, but that’s just one of the many issues I have with the book. For starters, to call River an unreliable narrator is an understatement. As the reader, we see her pretend exterior, riddled with forced action and “look at me, look at me” ploys, but we also see her inner thoughts and feelings, or as many as she’s willing to show. She constantly gives it all away until she realizes she’s already revealed too much, pulling on the reins just as the reader understands there’s an entire piece of the puzzle still missing. At the beginning, when she’s still Alice, she’s a relatable character – the new girl, just wants to be left alone but wants to make friends too. It’s a tough spot to be in, but she soon gains attention when she stands up to the school’s minor bullies, only to show her true nature to the readers as she does it. Niral may be a bully, but the way Alice/River thinks about her is worrying. She calls the other girls “things” and focuses on their outer appearance to make up for her own insecurity, but on a deeper level, it really calls to attention the underlying issue with the novel. On the outside, we all look perfect, or maybe we look disheveled but seem to have confidence, or maybe we have good grades so life is great – whatever it is that people see, that’s not who we are. Everyone has their own issues, their own struggles, especially River. She knows this about herself, but can’t seem to grasp the concept applies to everyone, even the Graces. The humor of her explanation of The Virgin Suicides wasn’t wasted text – she easily could have solved her problems if she’d listened to herself then and there!
“It’s all about how sometimes normal people can be capable of extraordinary things. Like, you’d just never know that these girls had it inside them to do the horrible things they do. We always have to find reasons to make order out of chaos, but the worst horror is when the reasons are totally banal, or when there isn’t any reason at all.”
With no surprise, the ending was predictably frustrating, River’s story came as no surprise, but her final scene with the Graces left much to be desired. Surely she was in the wrong, but weren’t they as well? She needed help, they even admit that, so why not offer it to her? Instead, they weave a passive aggressive assault in the name of revenge. I understand their friendship is complicated, to say the least, but instead of trying to understand each other, they decide to keep playing the game – but what was their prize? While I won’t be jumping to preorder, it will be interesting to see what River does next in the sequel. Teaming up with Marcus, I can only guess the trouble she’ll stir.
Rating: 3 Stars Goodreads
What have you been reading lately?