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Read Along With Me #2: The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar Chapters 6-8

9 Oct

Read Along 2

Here’s the second installment of our second Read-Along With Me. If you want to join Ashlee, Claudia and me as we read Thrity Umrigar’s The Space Between Us, send me an email. We’d love to have you! You can look at all of our posts on the hub page.

Question from Ashlee: I was surprised when Viraf showed as much concern for Maya’s situation as Sera, going as far as to say “we need to do something about this.” I can understand how Sera and Bhima developed a strong bond over the years, but considering the different economic classes, do you think Maya and Dinaz were close, as well? What are your thoughts on Viraf’s comment?

It didn’t occur to me until Ashlee pointed it out that Viraf had shown such a level of concern. I think it shows his commitment to Dinaz and Sera that he’s taken such an interest in a woman that’s been part of their family for so long. He seems to care for Bhima because he drives her to the market and is very polite to her, but I’m not sure yet how genuine it is. He’s only known her for a short time in comparison to Dinaz and Bhima. I imagine that Dinaz and Bhima were very close. It makes me think of The Help by Kathryn Stockett and how close Aibileen was to Mae Mobley. I imagine Dinaz and Bhima with a similar relationship. Between Maya and Dinaz, I’m not sure there would be much of a relationship. I think we’ll have to find out more about Bhima’s past to see how old she was when she became Maya’s primary care giver. If she was very young, it’s likely she brought Maya to work with her. But if she was older, I think Bhima’s professional attitude would prohibit her from dragging her granddaughter to work.

 

Question from Claudia: As Sera observed the Muslim couple with their fingers intertwined, she sensed envy towards their affections. What do you think the author, Thrity wanted to convey through this comparison? The comparison being Sera and the Muslim woman.

Here’s the quote Claudia is referencing, which comes from page 88 in the middle of Chapter 7:

She would’ve thought uncharitable thoughts about the husband who allowed his wife to walk around in this prison cloth, who ignored statistics that showed a higher prevalence of TB among women who kept their faces covered all day long. But now, she noticed that the veiled woman’s index finger protruded out of the black robe and that it was linked to her husband’s finger. Thus they walked, their fingers touching in a poignant connection that proved the fallacy of the veil and suggested something deeper and more eternal than human conventions.

I noticed this quote while reading as well and it made me stop and think. I was fortunate in college to have a very close friend who grew up in Saudi Arabia. We were close enough that I could ask him questions about his culture and his religion and I found it really insightful. He would tell me that even in a country of arranged marriages, there is love between a man and a wife. Reading into it, I’ve heard of marriages where the couples meets on-line or through family members and are able to get to know each other without meeting face to face and are eventually married. With my idea that this book is set in the mid 1970s, that doesn’t seem to be the case here. I think this is a case where the couple was lucky enough to be placed with someone they were truly compatible with and they have a very loving marriage.

I think Sera’s comment is about how her marriage was formed. She was courted and fell in love with a man she thought she knew. On page 80, also Chapter 7, she says,

The difference between wooing her, making sure that she chose him over every other man, and knowing that he had won her and there was no reason to impress her anymore. She turned away from him,, afraid that he would see the disappointment in her eyes. Because she wasn’t disappointed by him as much as she was disappointed in him, by his banality, y how, how common he had turned out to be.

I marked by this passage, Every woman’s fear. No one wants to find out that they were a prize and that all of the romance and wooing was just to win and now that they’ve been won, they’re not special. We want to always be special. I think Sera was jealous that she’d been won and discarded whereas she saw this woman had been a gift to her husband that he treasured every day.

 

And now for the musing topic! It was proposed by Claudia this week and I really like it. The topic is ‘At what degree does one draw the line?’ The example she uses is Banu’s treatment of Sera and how much she put up with for her new husband. I think we can extend this even further to talk about how Bhima has yet to draw the line with Maya. She’s furious with the girl and thinks her life is ruined but she continues to let the girl stay in her house, eat her food, and hide from the neighbors. I wonder if there’s a line where Bhima will say she has to get out and make the father take responsibility for her. Would there be a line Maya could cross where Bhima would kick her out on the street? I don’t think so, but her anger has been mounting since the book began.

Another line yet to be drawn is between Bhima and Sera. Sera seems increasingly frustrated with Bhima’s tardiness and low energy in the mornings. She keeps thinking of saying something, but doesn’t. Bhima keeps being resentful to Sera for being treated like any other servant instead of a long-standing and faithful one, but she doesn’t say anything. She almost does when Sera refuses to buy a dishwasher to lighten Bhima’s workload, but doesn’t. Is there a line that either of these two will cross and tell the other how she really feels? I hope so. I see this as the central conflict of the book.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along. Please drop me a line if you are interested in joining us; we have so much fun doing these!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Read Along With Me #2: The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar Chapters 1-5

25 Sep

Read Along 2

It’s time to start another Read-Along! Wooo, so excited. I’m joined by two veterans, Claudia and Ashlee. You can look at all of our posts on the hub page. And if you think you want to join up, send me an email! We’d love to have you.

Set-up of the Read-Along has changed just slightly. We all submit one or two questions and then one person suggests a major topic we can all ‘muse’ over. Hopefully this well give us a more consistent discussion across blogs. Let’s get to this!

Question from ClaudiaHave you had friends or relatives desperately fight against your decision(s) and/or choice(s)? (ie. you’re too young, you don’t know what you’re talking about, you don’t know any better)
As a matter of fact, yes. I got engaged when I was 21. I know some of you are thinking, “So?” and others are thinking, “Why so young? You have your whole life ahead of you!” At least I assume you are because those are the two reactions we got. Some people didn’t think it was a problem and some thought we were too young and that by telling us, we would ‘come to our sense’ and call off the engagement. Needless to say, I married that man 22 months later and I’m so glad I did. But I had some relatives (an in-laws) who were against it for a long time.

It’s a hard position to be in. The people who you are used to leaning on and being supported by are pushing back at a major decision you’re making. You were so happy and excited about it, and now there’s no one smiling with you. I sympathize with Maya in this respect and can feel her pain. Bhima is ashamed (which I hope my relatives didn’t feel) and thinks she knows what’s right for Maya, though Maya may not agree.

 

Question from AshleeBhima and Sera both make a comment along the lines of, “Oh, but she is good to me so I shouldn’t be so hard on her.” I find it interesting that two women from two very different social classes can look at each other in the same way. I assume this is without the other knowing. A common thread between them that is perhaps never mentioned throughout their relationship. I’m sensing this might be the author’s goal with this novel, but how do you see it playing out?
I think this plays right into the title. There is a gap between the two women and even though they think and feel the same things, there’s something that has to be overcome. That space isn’t something that they can overcome, perhaps, because it might be more deeply seeded than they are able to break. India existed in a caste system for a long time and the characters mention how even though it is gone, there’s still an influence and a shadow of the system.

I think Umrigar is making a larger point as well; we never know how someone else is looking at us. We’re all human, yet we assume we’re a ‘different’ human than someone else because we look different or have a different background when we have no basis for making this assumption. I’ve been very blessed to have a diverse group of people around me growing up in Metro Detroit and having parents who raised me to believe everyone is the same. I know my mom grew up in a household where things were not quite so free and I can understand from that how Bhima and Sera are influenced by the place where they grew up. They’d have to grow a lot to overcome it.

 

Here’s the new part. I proposed a topic for us all to think about and write about to draw a common thread across our discussions. The one I proposed this time was the effect of those not living in the story. I remember when I was high school we read the Tennessee Williams play The Glass Menagerie. The essay we had to write was about how the father (who is deceased) influenced the play. I thought of this a lot while reading these chapters. Both of our main characters have people in their lives who we either assume or know are dead that have influenced them greatly.

Bhima is influenced by her daughter, who I think has passed. Shes taking care of her granddaughter and soon, her great-granddaughter. She seems to have had a bad falling out with her daughter that she has imposed on Maya quite unfairly. There is a line on page 6 that makes me think Bhima might have had a pregnancy when she was very young.

… Maya would live, would continue going to college and choose a life different from what Bhima had always known.

I admit it could mean getting out of the slum, but I took this to mean Bhima blames her daughter for keeping her in the slum because she was pregnant at a young age. I think Bhima also doesn’t want Maya to blame her child for keeping her in the slum.

Sera is influenced by her late husband., Feroz. She did not have a happy marriage and sees it as her duty to make sure her daughter and son-in-law have a good relationship. She seems to be pandering to Viraf to be sure he is happy and treats her daughter well. Another way Feroz influences her is through his mother. Sera feels obligated to visit the woman daily, even though she was cruel to her in earlier years, because she cared for Feroz in childhood. It seems like more of a duty than an act of love and it’s entirely driven by Feroz.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along. Please drop me a line if you are interested in joining us; we have so much fun doing these!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

And the Next Read-Along Will Be…

26 Aug

Thank you so much to the one person who voted on line (sarcasm) and the two people who voted via email. In truth, I could have read any of the selections and been happy, but I’m really selfishly excited for this choice because it’s been on my TBR pile for ages. Anyway, Read-Along Volume II will be…

The Space Between us by Thrity Umrigar

Woo hoo! I heard Umrigar speak about a year ago and I’ve also read her memoir and I’m sure we’re heading for a crazy roller coaster with this title.

If you’re interested in joining up, please send me an email: SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. I’ll get  you on a mailing list and send out the schedule. Here’s the basic premise of a Read-Along:

  • The book is divided into six sections (about 50 pages)
  • You will read a section every two weeks
  • After you read a section, you will (via email) submit a question to the group
  • For each section, an assigned member will pose a topic (ex. forgiveness, maternal instinct) upon which everyone else will muse
  • Within a week of a section ending, you’ll write a blog post in any format you choose to discuss the section with other participants.

As I’m only a site on the internet to most of you, I can’t enforce any of this. It’s what you make of it; the more you do, the more you get out. If you can’t give as much,  you get what you can and that’s that. It’s very relaxed and I hope we can all enjoy.

Get excited! I know I am!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Who Wants to do ANOTHER Read-Along?

18 Aug

I’m getting antsy. I think it’s time for another READ-ALONG! I had so much fun with the last one and I want to get this started soon. Once I start school, I won’t have time to set one up, and that’s the hardest part. So let’s do it now! I’m taking the highest votes for a winner. Please know that there are some off-line votes you will not see in the total, so the results might be different from what you see here.

**POLL CLOSED**

And links to the Goodreads Listings:

Here’s a bit about how this Read-Along will go.

  1. You email me at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com and tell me you want to do a Read-Along with us.
  2. You get your own copy of the book.
  3. I’ll send you a schedule that says what chapters to read by which dates, and when to have your blog post about the chapter posted.
  4. You will volunteer to lead a section (new! kind of optional!).
    1. For the section you choose, you will pick a topic (one word topic like Forgiveness, Vengeance, etc.) which all other members will muse on in whatever way they see fit.
  5. For each section, you will submit one question to the group.
  6. You will post awesome blog posts with musings and question answering (if you so desire) and will link back to the hub page for the Read-Along, where I will include a link to your post.
  7. You will read and comment on other Read-Along blogs!
  8. You will have fun.
  9. You will realize I have no way to enforce any of this and participate out of the goodness of your heart when your life permits.

I hope you join in, it’s a good time.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Read Along With Me #1: The Maze Runner by James Dashner Chapters 52- THE END

24 Jul

ReadAlong1Maze

It’s over! My first read-along is over and I’m so glad that those who participated had a good time doing it. I’m thinking of starting another one of these in a month or two, so stay tuned if you’re interested in this again. I’ll put up a few choices for books in a poll in the near future so keep a look out for that! And now, time to finish the book! If you haven’t read it, HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD!

Question from Katherine: Do you think this will be an instance where the movie will be better than the book?
Oh my gosh, YES! Dashner wrote a great plot, there’s no denying that, but his characters are seriously lacking. I think any mid-grade or better actor could portray the emotions Thomas and the others go through better than they were conveyed in the book. The plot is sure to be impressive, as we already know, but I see only room for improvement in character development. Plus, we get to see Grievers!

Question from Nicole: Do you think at the end of the book the boys have any idea what’s in store going forward? Do we know if any of their families survived?
I doubt they have a clue. Thomas says he feels safe and I think their sense of safety is going to be very different from a normal humans. They just survived a massive Griever attack; safe is not being in battle! I think the beginning of the second book will have them second guessing their rescuers, but I think they’ll still feel safer with someone telling them what’s going on rather than trying to figure out a maze every day. As far as their families, I’m not sure we’ll ever know if they survived because I’m not sure that the kids would be able to figure out who their birth parents are. If they were taken from their parents at a young age and I’m assuming their names were changed, there’s no easy way to reconnect them with their parents. In my mind, they’re orphans.

Question from Ashlee: It broke my heart when Chuck died. Who were you most surprised to see die?
I was surprised with how quickly and without ceremony Alby died. He was a rather major character in the plot up until the end and he seemed to go quickly. I suspect that it wasn’t a sacrifice like it seems, but that the Creators were controlling his mind and made him run to the Grivers to get the Gladers to attack. It still shocked me.

Question from Lynn: Any guesses about the purpose of this whole experiment?
One of the people on the bus said something about ‘believing the rumors’ from South America. That leads me to believe that there’s not a lot of communication between the two continents and they’re looking for a way to reach those in South America. I wonder if the Maze was designed to test the boys and see if they have what it takes to cross the Scorch and reach those on the other side. Thomas and Minho can obviously run all day, they know how to fight large monsters, and they’ve shown their cunning and bravery. I think they’re going to be sent across the ‘no man’s land’ and try to establish contact with another group of civilization.

I want to thank all the wonderful ladies who participated in this read along with me! I had so much fun in my first digital book club and I hope they all did as well! I’m thinking of starting this up again in a month or so, when the hectic part of summer is over and I’ll have to time to pick some titles. Look for a poll in another few weeks if you want to participate.

For a link to all the posts about this book, visit the hub page.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Read Along With Me #1: The Maze Runner by James Dashner Chapters 39-51

10 Jul

ReadAlong1Maze

This is the second to last installment. Can you believe it?! I’m still trying to get over the fact some crazies joined me in reading this book. Thank you to all of you who are reading along, you’ve made this so much fun!

Question from Nicole: I wondered towards the end of this section if the Creators were aware of the boys and what they were on too. And if they did know what was happening, why didn’t they try to stop it or was this part of the “plan”?
There weren’t any mentions of Beetle Blades in these last chapters, so I’m not sure. I feel like the blades are spies for the creators so if they’re not around like they were when Thomas first arrived, maybe the Creators aren’t as aware. If they did know about the plan, their next step would probably depend on what the purpose of the experiment is.

Question from Ashlee: Do you think Theresa was the only girl who went through the special training? Or why weren’t more females thrown into the Maze?
They talk so much about variables, I wonder if all men was a way of removing the romantic variable. No women, no distractions. Kind of like Catholic high-schools. As far as Teresa showing up, I think that the part of the ending sequence she triggered threw a lot of variables to the wind. The doors weren’t supposed to stay open either.

Question from Sultana: Just one last chunk of reading left! General predictions, anyone?
As of writing this, I’ve finished it, but my prediction going into the last section was that Minho would die. He’s my favorite character and my disappointment in this book so far dictated that he would have to die.

Question from Barb: Why is Newt so negative to Thomas’s code breaking? There is no better option so why does Newt resist so much?
I think Newt was so new to being in control that he didn’t know how to act. He wanted to stay in control and be leading the boys, but Thomas had a monopoly on that for the time being. I think he resented Thomas more than he resented the idea of breaking the code.

Question from Lynn: Also, the people who have been through the changing – some of them don’t want to leave the maze as a result as they think the world out there will be much worse – how come Thomas isn’t feeling that?
I think Thomas somehow was raised apart from the rest of the boys. His memories are different, he has a different connection with Teresa, and he feels familiar in the maze. To me, all of these point to having been there before and having been involved somehow in design, which it seems obvious the remaining boys were not.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Read Along With Me #1: The Maze Runner by James Dashner Chapters 30-38

26 Jun

ReadAlong1Maze

Hello again, all! We’re getting close to the end of The Maze Runner and we’re finally getting some answers. Thank God! If you haven’t read the book before, know that this will likely ruin it for you. Sorry.

Question from Barb: On page 200 the Gladers ponder that the sun has “disappeared”.  Thomas understands that there never was a sun and “Everything about this place was fake.”  All I could think of was the movie The Truman Show when Jim Carey sails to the edge of his world.  The Truman Show was reality TV taken to extremes.  Do you think this situation in the Glade is just for some demented group’s pleasure?
I sure hope not! I had flashbacks to The Truman Show as well when I read that part of the book. It doesn’t seem like a Hunger Games twister pleasure game to me, especially in light of the words Thomas found on the wall of the maze. It could still be the case, but I think we’re chasing a more Divergent-like plot than anything right now. We’ll see how this goes.

Also from Barb: The signs in the maze that declare it part of the Killzone Experiment Department seem so ominous yet Minho dismisses them.  What obvious signs of disaster do we dismiss in our lives?  Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” and Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” are some classic examples.
I think there are a lot of things we walk past and dismiss which should actually scare the pants off of us. The rising cost of gasoline; consistently bad weather patterns; rising water levels, high pollution levels; I could go on for a while. I wrote a post (which you will see tomorrow) about how we ignore a lot of little things in our lives like piles of laundry, loud neighbors, or a co-worker’s inappropriate clothes. It’s almost too easy to look past these things.

Question from Nicole: When they come to the writing in the maze that says, “World in Catastrophe,” I think of it as a message from the others to the boys about the previous world they lived in. What else could this mean? Why do you think it’s written on the walls in the maze? Do you think that it’s a message about the Maze rather than about their previous world?
Hm, I hadn’t considered that. Maybe ‘World in Catastrophe’ is the name of the Maze experiment (I still think it’s an experiment). I hope their future world isn’t falling apart!

Question from Sultana: How do you feel about the book overall so far? What do you enjoy, and what do you think could’ve been improved? Feel free to elaborate on anything, possibly including plot, character development, writing style, setting, etcetera.
I like how fast paced the book is. I’m never bored reading it because something is always happening. I think Dashner does that well. However, I’m not a huge fan of his writing in general. I think his sentences structure is repetitive and dry and the characters don’t have a lot of feeling to them. He makes up for that with a unique setting and story, but I think the books could have used a bit more umph

Question from Ashlee: It’s evident now that this is an experiment of some kind, so why do you think the Creators choose teenagers as their subjects instead of adults? Are there benefits to this?
Especially in male adolescence, their brain is still developing and will continue to into their twenties. If this is some sort of Divergent-esque experiment, this fact might be why young boys were chosen

Question from Katherine: Alby runs off in the middle of the night to look at the maps. When he was going through the Changing, he said “Protect the maps”… but he also tried to strangle himself. Clearly there were warring forces at work in his mind. I can’t help but think his weird dash into the night means that he’s going to destroy the maps, not study them…but would that be Alby-Alby at work? Or Creator-controlled/changed- Alby? In other words, whose agenda is whose?
If we’re going off the assumption that he’s going out to destroy them, I would think that’s Creator-Alby. I can’t see a reason Alby would think the Griever would want their map information. The Grievers don’t seem like intelligent beings who could steal information. I think at worse they would destroy the maps themselves. I guess Creator-Alby could destroy the maps and blame it on the Grievers, but I don’t think Alby-Alby would have a reason to do this.

Question from Lynn: Do you have any more insight into what role Thomas and Theresa have in this experiment?
I have a feeling they have some kind of decision making roll but I can’t put my finger on what I think it is. Maybe they chose the people to go into the maze or have some sort of say in what the Grievers do. Whatever it is, it seems that it’s something Gally’s not a fan of so I feel like they’ve contributed to something Gally considers to be suffering. Maybe the death of a friend or the pain of the Changing.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Read Along With Me #1: The Maze Runner by James Dashner Chapters 20-29

12 Jun

ReadAlong1MazeI’m having so much fun with this Read-Along! The participating bloggers have been so great and those of you casually reading our blogs (I know you’re out there!) have been very encouraging. If you’re interested in joining, it’s not too late yet. You can still hop aboard. Check out the Read-Along page for some more information and send me an email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com if you’re interested in joining. On with the questions!

Question from Sultana: What level of control do you think the Creators have over the minds of those in the Maze? I ask not only because of the memory wipe on them, but also because of Alby’s incident where he choked himself but felt like somebody else was choking him so as not to reveal information about the Changing.
I had similar thoughts on that section. It seemed like creator-control that Alby was unable to speak about what he remembered. I don’t know how I would describe the control, but there seems to be a high level of it in this world. I’m not sure if I think it’s mind control or some high technology level, but I think there’s something. We could even take this a step further and say that the creators controlled Alby when he shot Ben. Who knows?

Question from Ashlee: Chuck made a comment to Thomas that he needs to quit acting weird so the others will stop taking notice of him. Do you think Thomas has a big target on his back in a good way or a bad way? The Keepers seemed to be split about if he’s there to help them or to destroy them, but what do you think the other boys in the Glade are wanting to do with this new kid who’s breaking the rules and showing everyone up?
I think initially, the target on his back was a bad thing, but I believe that’s starting to change. When weird things started happening after Thomas arrived, I think the others were weary of him and thought he brought bad luck. Now, after he’s proven himself int he maze, I think the target has turned to a good thing. I think the leadership is a bit more accepting of him than the average Glader, but I hope that will soon change

Question from Barb: It bothers me that the author states the characters’ emotions rather than describe how they feel.  Is this typical of Young Adult Fiction?  I haven’t read much Young Adult Fiction in a very long time (besides Harry Potter of course).  I feel like Thomas’s emotions are very sudden because there is no build up to the author’s statements. At the end of Chapter 30, “Thomas stood up to pace around the little room, fuming with an intense desire to keep his promise.”  The page before that he “hated with a passion he didn’t know a human could feel.”  Maybe adolescents just change emotions that quickly so the author has no time to build up to the shift. Does this bother you too?
I’ve noticed this in some Young Adult fiction but I hadn’t seen it yet in this one. I think sudden emotional change is normally characteristic of poor writers more than of YA novelists and I’m not sure how I feel about Dashner’s writing just yet. With my writing friends, we refer to the journey from one emotion to another as ’emotional blocking.’ I don’t think Dashner does emotional blocking particularly well but I’d hesitate to say that that’s characteristic of YA novels and more an author’s trait. It’s important to make your character’s reactions seem believable and it reflects negatively on Dashner that his readers don’t see this.

Question from Nicole: On page 175, Alby tells them to “protect the maps.” Maps of the maze? But I thought that the maze changed every single day?
I wonder if the Runners are looking for a pattern, whether one exists or not, and plot the maze each day. If there are things that change about it consistently, maybe they can plan on certain changes. Maybe the outer bounds of the maze don’t change so they believe the exit doesn’t move, only the path to the exit. I think there’s a lot of reasons they would want to map the maze each day and I hope we get to see those maps soon.

Question from Katherine: It seems pretty clear that weird stuff is going on in the outside world if somebody bothered to create the Glade/Maze, engineer Grievers, ship people and supplies… etc. I mean, people generally don’t do that stuff if everything’s hunky dory. But Thomas’s memories all seem pretty normal (movie theaters, farms, marathons). Are they fake? Implanted? Thomas himself mentions that maybe the memories revealed by the Changing are actually too horrible to think about…
I think I said in an earlier post that I feel like Thomas’s memories are almost too cookie-cutter. They’re very typical and free of emotion, which makes me think they’re implanted. I think there’s something really terrible going on in the outside world that these boys are hoping to find a cure for. I only hope they succeed

Question from Claudia (a new member of our little party): Let’s say, you were given the opportunity to question one character from this story with guaranteed honest answers, what character would you choose and what questions would you ask?
Gally. I feel like his Changing was particularly eventful and he remembers a lot that he’s not saying. Another caveat of the situation would have to be that the Creators can’t stop him from telling me anything!

Question from Lynn: Why can the girl speak to Thomas and nobody else can hear?
I don’t think she’s really unconscious. I think her inability to speak and talk is a result of the Creators putting her in such a state. I feel like mind-to-mind communication must be a thin in the world these boys come from and part of their forgetting is how to use this skill. I think Teresa is in a semi-unconscious state that makes it so she cannot communicate verbally but she’s still in enough control of her body to talk to Thomas in this way.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think about the book so far. Check out the other blogs here and on the hub page to see what others are saying.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Read Along With Me #1: The Maze Runner by James Dashner Chapters 10-19

29 May

ReadAlong1Maze

It’s time for Part 2 of my Read Along with James Dashner. If you still want to join us, it’s not too late! There are details on my Read-Along page and you can see a list of participants on the hub page along with links to their posts. This section was Chapters 10-19 so if you haven’t read the book, beware of spoilers!

Question from Barb: Thomas has seen two Beetle Blades with the word “Wicked” written on the side. One was in the forest right before Ben tries to kill him and one was while he and Alby are hiding in the vines of the wall. Thomas thinks the Beetle Blades are wicked, but perhaps the Beetle Blades are warning Thomas of impending evil (Ben and the Griever). Do you think the Beetle Blades are trying to help Thomas?
I love this thought. It seems strange that they seem to come in time to warn him of impending danger and I suspect this will be cleared up for us in the coming chapters, but for now I do think they are trying to warn Thomas of impending evil. I feel like he’s somehow chosen by the Creators and the Beetle Blades might be their way of communicating with him to try to keep him safe while in the maze.

Question from Ashlee: Did the Creators throw a girl into the mix just to see how the boys would respond? Or do you think she has another purpose for being there?
I suspect that the girl was sent there to communicate a message. I wonder if she got in a fight with the Creators and put herself in the box, which could be against protocol because of her gender and explain why she remembers Thomas. There might be some sort of war going on that she escaped or there might be some ‘memory wiping’ portion of the box that brings her in which caused her unconsciousness. I think it’s a coincidence she’s a girl and the message she has to communicate is more important.

Question from Nicole: On page 85, they discover the dead Griever. What importance is the death of the Griever? They seem to make it a huge deal and I’m not sure why. They stay outside of the Glades, so I’m not entirely sure what the big fuss is about. Also… what significance is their name to the story or to the maze?
I suspect the boys would like to be able to study the Griever’s body and perhaps find a way to defeat them. The best way to defeat your enemy is to study him. I think the Grievers are seen as an enemy because they prevent the boys from finding the exit to the maze that they are so certain is there. They’re someone to be conquered to insure the boys own freedom. I think the name comes from the fact that the boys ‘grieve’ the deaths of the Runners trying to beat them. It seems a stretch, but it’s all I can come up with.

Question from Katherine: Ben’s rants against Thomas were pretty interesting. I expected him to be worried that Thomas would destroy them or betray them or something — but instead he was upset that “He’ll wanna take us home…He’ll wanna get us out of the Maze.” All Thomas’s memories of the outside world seem to be “normal” memories…but could there be something terrible (personal or widespread) that would keep the boys from WANTING to ever get out of the Maze? Or did the Changing just poison Ben’s mind to think that?
Wow. Never thought of that. Yay virtual book clubs for making me think more. This is taking me back to my Allegiant comparison and makes me think the boys are trying to figure out some part of humanity that has been lost, like genetic impurity. It’s possible that ‘home is so messed up that these boys have to figure out a way to overcome the difficulty that’s been created. Now I’m really curious to find out the ending!

Question from Lynn: So far I can’t say that I’m really attached to any of the characters. I don’t particularly dislike them but neither do I think I would be greatly impacted upon if one of them left the story. I am however curious about Chuck – I’m not altogether sure that I trust him yet. What are your feelings on the characters so far?
The only character I was growing attached to in any way was Alby, and it’s not looking too good for him! I feel like Chuck is trying too hard to act older than he is. We’re told that he’s young and I think he wants so badly to be Thomas’s age and feel important that he’s acting out to try to make himself seem important. I don’t know if I trust him because his whole personality seems like a facade. We’ll have to see going forward.

Question from Sultana: On page 102, Newt talks to Thomas about the importance of order in the Gladers’ society, saying ” ‘Reason we’re all sane around here is ’cause we work our butts off and maintain order. Order’s the reason we put Ben out–can’t very well have loonies runnin’ around tryin’ to kill people, now can we? Order.’ ” The Gladers are willing to go to extreme lengths to keep order in their society, so much that they would rather follow the rules and banish Ben to the Maze and Grievers then jail him and treat him for his lunacy. Discuss why you think that order is so important to the Gladers, and if you think that order and relative normalcy will last for them throughout the book.
I think that in a primitive society, there’s not enough resources to secure a jail system. It requires more resources to keep someone jailed and threat them for a chronic illness, so it’s easier for the boys to banish him and free those resources to search farm or look for an escape from the maze. I don’t think they’ve considered it much beyond this. I think order is important because they have no way to control their fates outside the maze so they want to control them inside as much as possible. In the small society, they need to make sure everyone is pulling his own weight to continue surviving. I’m not sure the order will last for them because I think for there to be a plot, there needs to be some disturbance in the story. I’m curious to see how much it’s disrupted.

Please send me an email if you’re interested in joining us. The hub page will have links to all the other posts.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Read Along With Me #1: The Maze Runner by James Dashner Chapters 1-9

15 May

ReadAlong1MazeIt’s here! The first round of Read Along posts about The Maze Runner is upon us! If you haven’t read about this yet, you can check out my Read Along page and the hub page for Read Along #1. If you want to join in, you’re not that far behind. The way this works is that we will read the assigned chapters and then pose questions about what we read to the other participants. If you haven’t read the book, beware of spoilers!

  1. Question submitted by Katherine: Do you care about Thomas yet? Have you gotten a read on him? And is 66 pages too long or too short to really establish your character?
    I really don’t care about him yet and I didn’t realize this until Katherine asked. I think he’s too confused to really project much of a personality. He seems lost but I don’t think he’ll have a ‘lost’ personality. I think it’s because of the confusing situation he’s in. In most books, I think the protagonist needs to be pretty well established in the first 50 or so pages, but this book seems to be an exception. Dashner wants us to be just as lost as Thomas is and experience this with him and from that perspective, he’s doing a great job.
  2. Question submitted by Ashlee: I’m really distracted by their unique language – shuck face, good that, shank. Is it driving you nuts too?
    Yes! Very much so. I put something into my own questions that language is part of what defines a unique culture and I think Dashner was trying to establish that these boys are a shut-off and unique set of people. However, it’s at a point where as a reader, I’m too distracted by the words to enjoy the story 100% of the time. I understand his tool, but I think it’s too forced here.
  3. Question submitted by Lynn: Why do you think the boys are there?  What are your guesses about what the place really is?
    This guess is going to come from reading Allegiant so I’m sorry to Dashner for not giving him any points for originality. I think the boys are being tested in some way. I think the designers are trying to find a trait in them that can’t be tested in any other way. Maybe bravery, athleticism, intelligence, survival instinct, or something I’m not thinking of yet.  I think the boys were selected based on some quality to be entered into this experiment. The Glade has an almost Hunger Games arena feel to me and the most intriguing thing is how far above the launch point it is. A half hour ride in the box? That’s crazy deep in the world.
  4. Question submitted by Barb: Is the amnesia which Thomas is experiencing the result of a “mind wipe” or is it an on-going effect of the Glade?  Thomas has intermittent memory flashes in the first day he’s in Glade.  He has general impressions of a past life but no concrete memories.  I have experienced traumatic amnesia and there is no middle ground to remembering; it was a complete blank.  The symptoms which Thomas experiences seem to be a temporary condition which allows him to begin assimilation into the Glade.  As he falls asleep the first night he feels an unexpected calm which Chuck foreshadows in some of his statements about things getting easier.
    I think the memory loss the boys experience is some sort of futuristic technology that allows a person to erase memories of a period of time. Maybe their memories are stored somewhere, either on a computer or in a part of their memory that can be accessed by a ‘trigger word’ or something. I made the note while reading that the memories they do have seem very emotionally detached. He remembers people walking in a city, but not being there or why he was there or who he was with. They’re very detached memories. I think that once the mystery of the book is solved, Thomas will somehow remember who he was before. It also seems that the girl has not lost her memory completely so we might get a lot of answers in our next set of chapters.
  5. Question submitted by Nicole: I remember an older movie called The Village. I can’t help but compare the two plots. What are some similarities and differences? In the movie, the main motive was to keep the people safe, so they scared them into thinking that they had no choice or options outside of the village. Do you think that this could be happening in the book as well? What is outside and why were they placed here with wiped memories?
    It’s been a while since I saw The Village but I remember the premise. There was a monster that kept the people in their village, much like the Grievers keeping the Gladers in their walls. I don’t think I can think of any differences yet, having seen the end of the movie and being just into this book. In the film, there was a larger almost government-like force keeping them in the village and I suspect we have something similar in the Glade. In the film, there was someone on the inside who was helping to keep the order and I think some of my fellow readers think Alby is doing something similar. It will be interesting to see if these plots are parallel as we read on.
  6. Question submitted by MovieGeek: Do you think the narrator should have only focus on Thomas because I would have love to know what Chuck, Alby, Gally and Newt felt.
    So far I’m a fan of the third person limited point of view. It’s a breath of fresh air from all the first person narrations I’ve read in YA books lately. After this question, I’m thinking about hearing from the other boys. I actually think I prefer following Thomas because I’m just as confused as he is. Maybe if he understood as well as the other boys I would want to hear from them all but right now I relate to Thomas because of this confusion so I like sticking to his head.
  7. Question submitted by Sultana: Environment plays a huge role in shaping a person. By removing the boys from their past environments (family, friends, society, etc.) and by removing their memories, does this fundamentally change the boys? If so, how? If not, do you think that the nature of who they are is innate and wins out over environmental factors? By having these boys “start fresh” in the Maze, is Dashner exploring how a person becomes who he/she is?
    This reminds me of Thomas’s suspicion that they’re in a prison. If their memories are erased, are they still criminals? I read on a bit and he suspects the boy who slaughters the animals of being a serial killer. I think it changes them because they don’t have a frame of reference to judge decisions and people. The Glade is their new frame of reference. I believe that who we are is a mix of nature and nurture and I’ll go back to my Divergent-esque assumption that the ‘Big Brother’ in this book is searching for some type of innate trait that these boys might have.

Yay, that was fun! If you’re interested in joining us, it’s not too late! Send me an email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com and tell me you’re interested.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!