Book review: The Maze Runner and Ghost Bride

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

Book description: When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is empty.

But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as anyone can remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, for just as long, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the Maze after dark.

The Gladers were expecting Thomas’ arrival. but the next day, a girl is sent up – the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might find their way home … wherever that may be. But it’s looking more and more as if the Maze is unsolvable.

And something about the girl’s arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers – if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.

My review: The Maze Runner wasn’t my favourite dystopian novels out there. I see how there’s a lot of similarities between it and The Hunger Games (one of my all-time favs) with the set up as something of a game or puzzle that needs to be solved or fought. But I found the fact that the only setting was within the maze was a little claustrophobic. I wasn’t really thinking too much of the rest of the world until near the end of the book.

The loss of memory everyone experienced was kind of tantalizing, but some aspects just weren’t too well explained. Random telepathy? I’m assuming a lot more is explained in the next books, and the very end is such a tease – very compelling to want to read the next one. I guess in its way that’s both good and bad – it gets you reading the next book, but I sometimes feel a little cheated when the book is so clearly designed for a sequel. I want at least some answers now!


Ghost Bride, by Yangsze Choo

Book Description: Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, traditional ghost marriages are used to placate restless spirits. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy – including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets – and the truth about her own family – before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

My review: I really enjoyed Ghost Bride. The descriptions of the exotic Malaya setting were so rich, I felt transported there. I thought this was a wonderful exploration of the Chinese afterlife, which is fascinating. I had very little knowledge about the belief system there, and I love how Choo chose to write about the afterlife as fact – a place that Li Lan had to navigate despite the obvious drawback of not actually being dead.

The storyline itself was more romantic and suspenseful than I was expecting, so a happy surprise along the way. And I found the heroine, Li Lan, while occasionally naive and useless when the situations became overwhelming, was a decidedly charming character I was rooting for. I would definitely recommend this book, as long as you’re not turned off by the supernatural. Although this was so altogether different from your usual “paranormal” book that I would hesitate to even use the term supernatural. Just, you know, prepare yourself for ghosts – some friendly and some most definitely not.

Word of the day:

Perquisites: an incidental payment, benefit, privilege, or advantage over and above regular income, salary or wages: Among the president’s perquisites were free use of a company car and paid membership in a country club


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