Cheese balls and sequels

I apologize for not posting in almost a month.  It’s not because I wasn’t reading over the Chaosmas holidays. In fact, I’ve been stock piling book critiques over the past couple weeks much like I was stock piling cheese balls and Bailey’s. Now that it’s the New Year I’m going to work everything out of my system, beginning with the regurgitation of my readings; easier to burn off and didn’t taste nearly as good. Fact: Books have less calories than cheese balls.

Both books I finished over the break were parts of a series. I read the fourth and final book in the Wicked series, titled Out of Oz, and almost went out of my mind with boredom at some parts. I debated blogging about this series finale because it may deter some of you readers from ever picking up any of the first three books, which would be a mistake. I also can’t tell you much about the book without giving away secrets from its predecessors.  But then I thought it’s like letting you eat your turkey dinner backwards, with your pumpkin pie dessert first, and who wouldn’t love that? Although, in this case, the best book of the series was your appetizer, Wicked, so I wouldn’t want you to get your fill of the finale and not make it back to the beginning. Maybe it’s called a starter for a reason. Hmm. It definitely was the best book of the series and whet my whistle to come back for seconds, thirds, and finally this fourth. (Is this a food blog or a book blog?) But, just like after that fourth helping of stuffing, this book made me good and ready for a nap.

Although Gregory Maguire has quite the imagination and turns what you think you know about wicked witches and talking lions on its head with clever personifications and namesakes, (yes, I only just pieced together the cleverness of the girl who BLEW in from Kansas being named Dorothy GALE),  large chunks of the book are a snore fest.  What I do love about the book is that it’s not your typical good vs evil story where loveable Munchkinlanders slave away until a naive teenager with a heart of gold and voice of angels drops in and saves the day. In fact, this ironically named Dorothy Gale can’t carry a tune, and the main character munchkin needs his mouth washed out with soap.

The story follows Rain, a third generation descendant of the Wicked Witch, through her travels across Oz during a time of political turmoil and struggling with accepting her rightful place on the throne. The book does tie together many loose ends left in the other stories and brings together an almost complete cast of the series’ misfits. I finished this book about the same time I finished the Christmas leftovers; all those turkey sandwiches and sweets you swear you’ll never eat again, but you do. Every year. So as bad as I made this book out to be, if a fifth one came out, I’d eat it. I mean, read it.

The next book I read was the sequel to The Maze Runner by James Dashner, called The Scorch Trials, or as I like to call it – the second book in the poor man’s Hunger Games series. If you don’t know what I’m referring to when I make mention of the Hunger Games, watch this, then read these, then thank me and I’ll see you in line on March 23.  I don’t care that you’re an actual adult and not a young one, you will love it, devour it, and be hungry for more. (I have a fixation on food today. I must finally be going through holiday treat withdrawal.)

What The Scorch Trials lacked in comparison to HG, and even to its debut novel, was firepower. Not literally. This book takes place in a vast dead land with sun so hot this readhead’s UV 60 wouldn’t cut it for 5 minutes, and violent lightning storms that target and fry unsuspecting visitors. So yes, ample actual fire, not enough power. In the first novel the teens are forced to work together to solve a deadly maze where they’ve been dropped by a Big Brother-like organization with their memories wiped clean. It’s non-stop death defying (and death fying) drama. This second book? More error than trial.

I like my sequels like my cheese balls; huge, mouth-watering, and leaving your stomach tied in knots. But if you like yours quick and easy, and you’re in to young adult, then get your mind outta the gutter (and off of food!) and into this book.


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