A separate peace

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

A Separate Peace is a novel by award-winning author John Knowles. In this novel, Gene Forrester is a preparatory school student whose best friend is an outgoing and much beloved athlete named Phineas. Gene finds himself struggling beside Phineas and comes to the conclusion that Phineas wants to sabotage Gene so that he can be the star of the school. When this assumption proves to be false, Gene becomes confused. Gene causes an accident that will end Phineas’ athletic career and derail his plans to join the war overseas. Gene will struggle with this single episode for months until finally Phineas learns the truth. A Separate Peace is a story of coming of age and of young men who struggle to find out who they are and what motivates them in a time of uncertainty and fear.

Gene Forrester returns to Devon, the preparatory school he once attended, fifteen years after graduation. As he walks across the campus, Gene begins to recall the year that changed his life. It was 1942, and Gene is part of the first summer term at Devon, a term designed to prepare the young men of his class for service in World War II. Gene’s roommate and best friend is Phineas, Finny, an outgoing character who can talk his way out of just about any situation. Over this summer term, between classes, the boys create a club centered around those brave enough to jump into the Devon River from a tree and create a new ball game that centers on Finny’s own unique rules.

One afternoon, Finny questions Gene’s dedication to his studies. Finny accuses Gene of wanting to be the top of the class at graduation. As Finny jokes about this, Gene finds himself wondering if Finny is really jealous of him and if he has been sabotaging his studies in order to be the top student himself. This thought causes Gene to work harder at his studies and to ignore Finny’s frequent pleas to go play. One day, Gene finally tells Finny that he is interrupting his studies. Finny is surprised and expresses a belief that Gene did not need to study, that his good grades came naturally to him. This confuses Gene and makes him angry with Finny. As the two boys prepare to jump from a tree limb into the river below, Gene shakes the limb and causes Finny to fall too early. Finny fractures his leg badly on the river bank below.

Gene finishes the summer term and returns home for a brief visit. When Gene comes back, he stops by Finny’s house to speak with him. Gene tries to tell Finny that he caused him to fall from the tree intentionally, but Finny does not believe him. Gene returns to school alone as Finny recovers. Others seem to think Gene caused Finny’s accident, but Gene brushes off the accusations and no one pushes it. In a few months, Finny comes back to school and the rumors are put to rest.

Finny returns to his same old antics, but they are tinged with some bitterness. Finny insists that the war is not real and he trains Gene so that he might take Finny’s place in the 1946 Olympics. In the middle of the winter term, one of their friends, Leper, joins the Army. A few months later, during a winter carnival that Finny has planned, Gene gets a telegram from Leper telling him he has escaped. Gene goes to see Leper only to learn that he has gotten a discharge from the army for mental instability.

One of Gene’s classmates has been bothered all along by Finny’s accident. In the middle of the night, this boy and several of his friends kidnap Gene and Finny from their room and place Gene on trial. Finny cannot recall what happened that night, but Leper, who has returned recently to the school, remembers every detail. Leper tells them Gene shook the limb, causing Finny’s accident. Finny leaves the hall in anger and falls down the marble steps.

Finny’s leg is broken again. Gene goes to visit him, but Finny is angry with him. Gene returns the next morning to apologize again. Finny accepts his apology and tells him how he had wanted to join the military, but no one would take him now. The doctor comes and asks Gene to return later because they need to set Finny’s leg. When Gene returns, he learns that Finny has died from escaped bone marrow that traveled to his heart. Gene graduates months later and enters the Navy, wiser and with the understanding that everyone deals with war in their own way.

 

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before: Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Always and Forever, Laura Jean is the third installment in Jenny Han’s Laura Jean trilogy. The previous novels in the trilogy, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You, have followed Lara Jean Song Covey, a half-Korean, half-Caucasian teenager as she comes of age. This novel completes the series, following Lara Jean’s final year of high school and her venture into the world beyond. The novel begins with first-person narrator Lara Jean at a party with her boyfriend, Peter Kavinsky. They leave the party so he can get her home before curfew. Since they have a little extra time, they go to the campus of the University of Virginia, the college that Peter has been accepted to on a lacrosse scholarship, and the college that Lara Jean has wanted to go to ever since she was a little girl. Lara Jean’s mother passed away when she was ten years old, and before she died she took classes at UVA. It is important to Lara Jean that she gets into UVA so that she can feel connected with her mother and so she can remain close to her family. Her father and younger sister, Kitty, are very important to her, and she wants to be able to see them every week. Peter takes Lara Jean home and she goes to sleep. The next day, Lara Jean decorates Easter eggs to take to the retirement home where she used to work and she Skypes her older sister, Margot, who is in college in Scotland. The next day, Lara Jean goes to deliver the eggs to the retirement home and to visit her favorite resident, Stormy. Later that day, Lara Jean bakes in an attempt to create the perfect chocolate chip cookie. She, Peter, and Kitty watch movies and then Peter leaves to help his mother. The next day, Lara Jean brings more cookies to school with her and shares them with her friends. At home, she has dinner with her family and her father’s girlfriend, Trina. That weekend, Lara Jean goes on the class trip to New York City. Peter stages a prom proposal straight out of Lara Jean’s favorite movie, Sleepless in Seattle. When she goes back to school, she gets notified that UVA has rejected her.

Lara Jean is depressed after being rejected from the college. She decides to make Peter a scrapbook to take with him to UVA without her. Lara Jean gets accepted into the College of William and Mary and decides to go there for a year and then transfer to UVA for her sophomore year. Lara Jean’s sister Margot comes home for the break with her boyfriend Ravi. Margot does not like how close Trina and her father have gotten. She urges Lara Jean to give William and Mary a chance, but Lara Jean does not take her advice. Their father tells them that he wants to propose to Trina and the girls are happy except for Margot, who only pretends to be happy for him. Margot goes back to Scotland and their father proposes to Trina, who says yes. Lara Jean starts planning the perfect wedding.

Trina sells her house and moves in with Lara Jean and her family. Lara Jean goes to Peter’s lacrosse game and sits next to his mother, who tells her that it might be for the best that she did not get into UVA. When Lara Jean gets up to buy popcorn, she sees a man who looks just like Peter. He turns out to be Peter’s estranged father who left the family and started a new one. He wants to reunite with Peter, but Peter is not open to a reunion. He asks Lara Jean not to tell Peter that he was there, and Lara Jean agrees. Later that week, Peter tells Lara Jean that his father showed up at his house. Lara Jean encourages him to give his father a chance, but Peter is resistant. Lara Jean and Peter go to prom together and dance all night. Afterwards, Peter plans a surprise birthday party for Lara Jean and recreates the iconic cake scene from Sixteen Candles. Peter goes to a lacrosse training camp for the weekend and Lara misses him. When Lara Jean gets an acceptance letter from the University of North Carolina, a prestigious school, she takes an impromptu road trip to the campus with her friend Chris. Lara Jean decides she wants to go to school at UNC and give it a real chance. Her family is excited for her.

When Lara Jean tells Peter about UNC, he is less than thrilled. He gets drunk at a party and cannot drive her home. She continues to encourage him to invite his father to graduation but he is resistant; he does however offer to throw a bachelor party at a steak house for Lara Jean’s father. When yearbooks are handed out, Lara Jean gives hers to Peter to sign, but he cannot think of anything to write so he brings it home with him. He keeps telling her that he has forgotten it until the last day of school, when she goes to his house and sees that he has not written anything. She is upset, but he tells her that he has invited his father to graduation so she is happy for him. The day of graduation, Lara Jean’s family members give her gifts and her father surprises her with a month-long trip to Korea. At graduation, Peter’s father does not show up. Lara Jean feels terrible, but does not have enough time to console him.

Peter arrives early in the morning to pick up Lara Jean and take her to Beach Week. When he finds out that Lara Jean is going to Korea for most of the summer, he is upset. During Beach Week, they get in a fight at a party. When Lara Jean tries to apologize with French toast, Peter refuses to eat anything. Later that night, they make up and Peter walks Lara Jean to her beach house. She invites him up and tells him she wants to lose her virginity to him. He says he thinks that she is only doing it because they got into a fight and asks her if she even wants to transfer to UVA anymore. She says that she does not know and then he leaves. Lara Jean drives home with her friends and Peter texts her to apologize and to ask her to hang out that night. Then his mother calls Lara Jean and invites her over. She tells Lara Jean that Peter has been talking about transferring to UNC, which means he would lose his lacrosse scholarship. Lara Jean assures her that she will talk to Peter, but his mother suggests that they should break up so Peter can focus on school and lacrosse. Lara Jean leaves and cancels her plans with Peter. The next night, she attends Trina’s bachelorette party at a karaoke bar and steals sips of drinks. She gets drunk and when Peter shows up, she breaks up with him. The next day, she wants to take it back, but fears he will not accept her apology or take her back. At her father’s wedding, Peter shows up and he and Lara Jean decide to get back together and to try to make a long-distance relationship work. He gives her back her yearbook, inside of which he has written a list of promises: he will write her a letter every week; they will call each other every day; they will always tell the truth; and he will love her forever. On the night before Lara Jean goes to college, she goes to the lake to watch a meteor shower with Peter and they are as in love as ever before.

Tuck Everlasting

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

First things first: the narrator explains the setting. We’re in the woods near Treegap, where there’s an important spring, owned by the Foster family. Got it? Okay, here we go.

Mae Tuck is getting ready to go meet her sons. But before she leaves, Mae and her husband Tuck have a conversation about wanting to change the things they can’t. Sounds normal enough, right? Oh, but then the narrator hints that these two are immortal. Well, then.

Winnie Foster (of the Foster family—remember them?) is talking to a toad when a strange man in a yellow suit appears and asks her questions. Winnie’s grandma joins them and they all hear some strange music. (Don’t worry, we’re confused, too.)

The next day, Winnie runs away, and she meets Jesse Tuck, who’s drinking from a spring. Dude won’t let her have any of the water, though. Soon enough, Jesse’s mother and brother, Mae and Miles, appear. The three Tucks grab Winnie and start running—but not before Yellow Suit Guy can see them. When they finally get a moment to stop, the Tucks tell Winnie their story, and Winnie promises to keep her mouth shut about the whole thing.

Here’s the story: Eighty-seven years ago, the Tucks came to Treegap and drank from this spring. Time went by, Miles started a family, and things started to get weird: the Tucks weren’t aging and they couldn’t die. Miles’s family left him, and the Tucks had to move away. When they finally figured out that drinking from the spring was what did this to them, they turned to a life of secrecy.

After they finish their no-big-deal story, the family takes Winnie to meet their patriarch, Tuck. (Of course, none of them notices that Yellow Suit Guy totally overheard them. We have a feeling that won’t end well.) During dinner, Winnie starts to freak out. That’s when Tuck takes her out on the pond for a serious talk about life and death. But Miles quickly interrupts them because their horse has been stolen.

Meanwhile, Yellow Suit Guy, who stole the horse (surprise surprise), is headed right back to the Fosters’ house. Just like that, he makes the Fosters trade him their land for Winnie’s safety. So back at Chez Tuck, Yellow Suit Guy barges in and reveals his evil plan: he owns the spring now and he’s going to sell the water. What’s worse—he’s going to make Winnie drink it. Mae’s answer? She bashes his head in with a shotgun. Nice.

Just then, the constable rolls up. He takes Mae to jail, and Winnie goes home, unable to explain to her family why she went with the Tucks. As it turns out, Yellow Suit Guy died, which means Mae is a murderer. Winnie and the Tucks are able to break Mae out of jail, but it means they have to say a very sad goodbye.

A few weeks later, Winnie makes the big decision not to drink the immortality water that Jesse had given her. Instead, she gives it to a little toad. She figures she can always return to the spring at another time—if she wants to.

Flash forward to 1950. Mae and Tuck come into Treegap only to learn that the forest and spring are gone. When Tuck visits the local cemetery, he sees Winnie’s grave. Looks like she passed up the immortality water forever, after all.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: PS I Still Love You

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

In the novel, P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han, Lara Jean Song Covey finds herself being pursued by two boys between whom she must choose. Peter Kavinsky was her boyfriend until she broke up with him because he lied to her. John Ambrose McClaren is a grade school friend with whom Lara Jean has recently reconnected. Even though John is the sort of boy she always dreamed of, Peter is the boy she loves despite his flaws.

Lara Jean asks her father to drop her off at Peter’s house after they leave their family’s New Year’s Day party. She has written a letter of apology to Peter but has decided to talk to him face to face. As she tries to talk to Peter, she senses he is not interested in her apology. He sees the letter she wrote to him in her pocket and takes it away from her. After he has read that heartfelt apology, he tells her that he had just been playing hard to get. They renew their relationship and even agree on a contract that they believe will keep them from breaking each other’s heart.

Things are immediately difficult for Lara Jean and Peter when a video of them in a hot tub appears on the Instagram site Anonybitch. It appears they are having sex. In reality, they are only kissing. The next day that video is gone. Peter says that he sent a complaint to the site threatening a lawsuit to make them take it down.

Lara Jean believes it was her former best friend, Genevieve, who is also Peter’s ex-girlfriend, who submitted the video to the Instagram site. When Lara Jean confronts Genevieve, Genevieve claims she did not submit the video. However, Lara Jean notices the corner of her mouth turns down as it does when she lies. When Lara Jean tells Peter that she thinks it was Genevieve who submitted the video, Peter promises to talk to Genevieve about it. Even though they are no longer dating, Peter and Genevieve are closer friends than Lara Jean would like them to be. Peter reports to Lara Jean later that Genevieve said she did not post the video and he believes her.

Meanwhile, things are changing in Lara Jean’s neighborhood. An older couple has bought the Pearces’ house and is planning to tear down the tree house where all the neighborhood kids once played. Lara Jean remembers how the old gang had buried a time capsule near the tree house and decides to have a time capsule party to say farewell to the treehouse. John is one of the friends who is invited to the party even though he no longer lives in the neighborhood.

The party is emotional for Lara Jean not only because she realizes she is attracted to John but also because Peter brings Genevieve with him even though Lara Jean did not invite her. The group decides to play a game of Assassins, a game they played in grade school, for old times sakes. Lara Jean decides she wants to win the game simply to prove that she is stronger than Genevieve believes.

When Peter unintentionally tells Lara Jean that he knew that it was Genevieve who submitted the hot tub video but did not tell Lara Jean the truth, Lara Jean breaks up with him. Peter is angered when he sees John and Lara Jean together at a USO themed party that Lara Jean organized for the retirement home where she volunteers. He demands to know if Lara Jean is dating John. He claims he has been friendly to Genevieve only because she was going through a stressful thing with her family. When Lara Jean asks, however, he will not tell her what is happening with Genevieve.

In the game of Assassins, Lara Jean and Genevieve are the only two players left alive. Following Genevieve to tag her out, Lara Jean discovers that Genevieve has been upset because her father is cheating on her mother with a girl who is just a couple years older than Genevieve. With this new information, Lara Jean hurts for her old friend and understands why Genevieve would have called on Peter to comfort her. Even though Lara Jean believes she could love John, she still loves Peter. When Peter asks if they can mend their relationship she agrees.

This book is also very good 10/10 recommend. This is also being made in to a movie. stay tuned for the last installment of the to all the boys series.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I’ve Loved before tells the story of Lara Jean Covey and her family, as they adjust to life after her older sister Margot moves to Scotland to attend college. Lara Jean has to cope with the fallout from her private love letters being mailed to all of her crushes without her sister’s advice to guide her. In the prologue, Lara Jean explains that she writes love letters to boys that she has loved as a way of getting over them: once she has expressed her feelings on paper she feels she can move on and she does not intend to ever send the letters. She keeps the letters in a teal hatbox.

Margot informs Lara Jean that she has broken up with her long-term boyfriend Josh ahead of moving away to attend college in Scotland. The news makes Lara Jean think about her own relationship with Josh, whom she has had romantic feelings for since before he started dating Margot. Margot leaving will be difficult for the Covey family to cope with, because she has been the one who has kept the others organized since the death of their mom several years earlier.

One day at school, Lara Jean is approached by a boy named Peter Kavinsky who wants to discuss some inaccuracies about him in a letter that she wrote him. After initially protesting that she did not write to him, Lara Jean is horrified to discover that he is holding a love letter from her hatbox. Lara Jean races home and discovers that the hatbox is missing: she asks her father, Dr. Covey, and her younger sister, Kitty, if they know where it is, but they do not.

The next day at school, Margot’s ex-boyfriend Josh asks Lara Jean about the love letter he has received from her. Not wanting to admit that she still has feelings for him, Lara Jean tells Josh that she is dating Peter Kavinsky, whom she grabs and kisses as he walks by. Later, Lara Jean explains to Peter why she kissed him and he suggests that they should pretend to be a couple so that things can go back to normal between her and Josh and so that Peter can make his ex-girlfriend Genevieve jealous.

Peter starts giving Lara Jean a ride to school in the mornings and he also drives Kitty: Kitty and Peter get on well with each other. Peter helps Lara Jean make cupcakes for Kitty’s PTA bake sale before taking Lara Jean to a party and invites her to join him on a trip to an estate sale to scout purchases for his mom’s antique business. Both Margot and Josh are unhappy that Lara Jean is dating Peter, but Dr. Covey and Kitty really like him and are pleased that he is Lara Jean’s boyfriend.

In the run up to Christmas, Peter helps Lara Jean and Kitty with plans for their annual Christmas Cookie Bonanza: a tradition that used to involve Margot and Josh. Peter convinces Lara Jean to come on the school ski trip with him. Josh helps the Covey family decorate their Christmas tree and kisses Lara Jean, telling her that he has always had feelings for her. When Margot returns for the holidays she is upset that the others made the cookies and decorated the tree without her. Margot makes plans to hold a recital party for their neighbors in their home.

On the ski trip, Peter tells Lara Jean that he has developed feelings for her and that he wants them to be a real couple. After initially rejecting Peter’s advances, Lara Jean finds him in the hot tub, gets in alongside him, and they kiss. The next day, Peter’s ex-girlfriend Genevieve tells Lara Jean about a rumor that Peter and Lara Jean had sex in the hot tub. Mortified, Lara Jean blames Peter for the spread of the rumor and refuses to speak to him.

Peter attends the recital party at the Covey’s house because Kitty invited him. Peter confronts Josh about kissing Lara Jean and Margot overhears. Margot tells Dr. Covey the rumor about Lara Jean from the ski trip and he offers to take Lara Jean to the doctors to arrange birth control. Lara Jean confronts Margot and they eventually reconcile after Lara Jean tells Margot how much she looks up to her and Margot confesses how difficult she has found it setting a good example for Lara Jean and Kitty since the death of their mom.

Kitty confesses to Lara Jean that it was her who stole the hatbox and mailed the love letters. Kitty reveals that she has kept all of the notes that Peter sent to Lara Jean during the course of their fake relationship. Reading back through the notes, Lara Jean realizes that she still has feelings for Peter and she begins to write him another letter.

This is the first book in the to all the boys trilogy. so stay tuned for the others. 10/10 would recommend.

The Maze Runner: The Death Cure

The Death Cure by James Dashner

Thomas has been in solitary confinement after rescue from the Scorch Trials.

After several weeks, Rat Man comes in and tells Thomas that the Trials are over now, and that WICKED has all the information they need. He takes Thomas to an auditorium, where the remaining subjects of the Trials are gathered. Rat Man, who is really Assistant Director Janson of WICKED, says that they are going to give the subjects their memories back. Janson also tells them that the majority of the Trial subjects are Immune to the Flare, but that a few are not. Included amongst the control variables–i.e. those who are not immune–is Newt.

Thomas, Minho,and Newt refuse to undergo the memory procedure and are led to another room for solitary confinement. WICKED intends to force the procedure upon them, but Brenda, who is Thomas’s surgery technician, helps them escape. Brenda and Jorge have also been working for WICKED the whole time, but they hate the organization. They are now actually Thomas’s friends, and not just acting the part on behalf of WICKED. Brenda takes Thomas, Minho, and Newt to go find Jorge. Jorge is a pilot, and can fly a Berg out to escape the facilities. The friends manage to escape, but not without encountering WICKED guards. WICKED has a weapon called a Launcher, which electrocutes its victims. Thomas and Brenda are shot with Launchers, but they do manage to escape on the Berg. Thomas is upset to find out that Teresa and the other subjects have also escaped on a Berg: he believes that they left Thomas, Minho, and Newt behind.


Jorge navigates the Berg to the city of Denver in Colorado. Denver is supposedly a safe city that guards itself against the Flare infection very well. There is also a defected WICKED doctor there, a man named Hans. Brenda believes that Hans can help them remove the chips planted in Thomas, Minho, and Newt’s brains, so that WICKED can no longer control them. When they reach the Denver airport, Newt stays behind because he is not an Immune. At the airport, a man delivers a cryptic note to Thomas. The note is from Gally, who is still alive, much to Thomas’s surprise. Gally is now working for the Right Arm, an organization opposed to WICKED. Before visiting Hans, Thomas and his friends visit Gally. Gally informs them of two key facts. First, Denver has been corrupt for a very long time and is actually heavily infested with the Flare. Second, someone has been kidnapping Immunes.

After seeing Gally, Thomas and his friends visit Hans, who manages to remove their WICKED control chips. As they are waiting in a coffee shop after seeing Hans, Flare testers attack a drugged-out infected man. They also capture Thomas, who lingered for too long. Thomas’s captors are bounty hunters, who want to sell him due to his Immune status. WICKED weaponry guns down Thomas’s captors, and Janson appears on a screen, asking Thomas to come back to WICKED. He says Thomas is the ‘Final Candidate’. WICKED is not coming down to Denver because of the crazy infection rates. Thomas’s friends find him again after this encounter with Janson. They head back to the Berg, only to find that Newt is gone: he has been taken by other Cranks and is now living with them. Newt’s deterioration due to the Flare is exponential. Thomas and his friends hunt down Newt, who is living at the ‘Crank Palace’, the place where all the infected people are quarantined. Newt, who is already partially insane, tells them to leave him alone. Broken and upset, Thomas and his friends are chased out of the quarantine by other Cranks, just barely making it on board their Berg in time. Jorge flies the Berg back to the Denver entry point, but Flare tester bounty hunters immediately capture them.


When Thomas and his friends are taken captive, they find that Teresa, Aris, and other members of their original groups are also prisoners of the bounty hunters. Minho helps overpower guards who come in to give them food. The guards are working for the Right Arm, not for WICKED. Thomas and Brenda insist on talking to the higher-ups of the Right Arm, and are taken through the city to the Right Arm headquarters. There, they meet Gally and Vince, the head of the Right Arm. Vince says that they are running a lookalike operation: they will pretend to sell immunes to WICKED and then infiltrate the complex. Thomas agrees to be part of this plan. He will pretend to go back as the ‘Final Candidate’, and will plant a device that will disable WICKED weapons.

As they drive back through the city to the Berg that will take Thomas to WICKED, Thomas and the Right Arm personnel encounter Cranks on the street. Thomas sees Newt and tries to save him, but Newt begs for Thomas to kill him instead. Thomas finally respects his friend’s wishes, killing him.


Thomas is flown up to WICKED, and pretends to hike back into the facility. Rat Man tells Thomas that they need him to sacrifice himself for science: the doctors need to read his brain and use for the cure. Thomas asks for more time, hoping the Right Arm will get here before the fatal surgery. Janson does not give Thomas much time or choice, and is putting him under anesthesia just as the Right Arm does arrive. Thomas goes unconscious from an injection, but wakes up to find a letter from Chancellor Ava Paige, who has a backup plan: she asks Thomas to find all the Immunes, who are hidden in the Maze, and take a Flat Trans to a safe place. As Thomas runs out to look for his friends, he realizes that the Right Arm intends only to destroy WICKED. Explosives are going off everywhere. When Thomas finds his friends, he takes them to the Maze to help get the Immunes out and to the Flat Trans. In the process, they have to fight Grievers deployed to kill them. Many people die from explosions and falling debris.

Just before Thomas and his friends enter the Flat Trans, Janson and backups arrive to stop them. Thomas and his friends fight them, and Thomas kills Janson. As they prepare to finally enter the Flat Trans, Teresa dives and saves Thomas from a falling piece of ceiling; the ceiling crushes Teresa instead, killing her. Thomas and his friends enter the Flat Trans, arriving in a lush nature hideaway. Brenda disables the Flat Trans and burns the entrance around it. The group prepares to begin life again. A final correspondence from Chancellor Ava Paige reveals that the Chancellor planned this backup plan because she was afraid that a cure would never be found. She thinks that Immunes were the real hope for humanity all along. Her email also reveals that the Flare was actually released as a form of population control by the government.

Would totally recommend this too. the Maze runner Trilogy has been my favorite book series for about 3 years when I first started reading this in 6th grade.

 

 

The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Basically, people called Creators put a bunch of boys whose memories were erased into a Maze in Book One of The Maze Runner series. Thomas, the protagonist, was one of the last ones to be put in the Maze, along with a girl named Teresa, the only girl, and that’s when things got strange. Lots of shenanigans went down, but the boys eventually found out how to escape. Once they escaped, they were “rescued” by some sort of rebel group, and then they were brought to a safe haven where they could sleep, and stuff like that.

Got that? Good.

The Scorch Trials opens with the boys—we call them Gladers—all in their dormitories having a grand old confusing time, when a new something bad happens. Crazy people outside—they’re called Cranks—start screaming, so the boys all race into Teresa’s room to see if she’s okay. On the way, they find a bunch of dead bodies hanging from the ceiling of the hallway. Great. Then, when the boys get to Teresa’s room, they find that she’s gone; a boy named Aris is in her room instead.

When they wake up they find out that they have words written on the back of their necks that weren’t there before. It stated there group and role. Each tattoo started with “Property of WICKED.”

Newt: “The Glue” A 5

Thomas: “To be killed by Group B” A 2

Theresa: “The Betrayer” A 1

Minho: “The Leader” A 7

Aris: “The Partner” B 1

Okay, so things just got really weird.

No one knows what’s going on, and when the boys get back to the hallway, it turns out that the dead bodies are all gone.

Sweet?

Later, a random dude just appears in the central room of the dormitories. He sits in a chair and reads a book, and he’s also protected by a force field. Thomas dubs him as Rat Man because his face resembles that as of a rat. Eventually he breaks his silence and tells the boys what’s going on. He’s part of WICKED, and the scoop is that the boys are all about to be put into a trial. At 6 a.m., they’ll need to go through a Flat Trans—whatever that is—and then enter the Scorch, where they’ll need to reach the safe haven in exactly two weeks’ time.

Sounds easy, right?

Actually, no. That doesn’t sound easy at all.

Anyway, the next morning, the kids all go through the Flat Trans. It’s a dark portal thingy, and bad stuff happens inside. A few kids get their heads sliced off from metal ball things, but eventually, most of them reach the other side. Phew? Meanwhile, Thomas tries telepathically to reach Teresa, but she isn’t responding, which is pretty alarming.

When the boys exit the Flat Trans, they walk out into the Scorch, which is pretty much a barren wasteland with extreme heat. Up ahead is a city filled with Cranks, and ahead of the city is a mountain range. The boys need to make it past the mountain range.

The boys make their trek to the city, but a storm hits and blows a few of them to pieces. Things are going fantastically, as you can tell.

When the boys reach the city, they run into a Crank dude named Jorge, who claims he’s the leader of the Cranks. He wants to kill Minho so much, but Thomas talks him out of it. In fact, Thomas talks Jorge into helping the kids, as their safe haven supposedly has the cure for the Flare, the disease that all of the Cranks have.

By the way, the kids all have the Flare, too—it just hasn’t affected their brains…

…yet.

Jorge starts to lead the boys toward the mountain with another Crank named Brenda, who’s super smart. Unfortunately, Thomas and Brenda get separated from the rest during a Crank attack.

Brenda helps Thomas make his way through the city by taking him through an underground tunnel system. On the way, the pair is attacked by some crazy Cranks, but everything turns out okay. When Brenda and Thomas reach the center of the city, Thomas finds a sign that says he’s the true leader. Apparently, these signs are everywhere, which is why Jorge and Brenda ended up helping him.

But Thomas and Brenda get in trouble pretty quickly: a group of Cranks force them to attend their party, where Thomas and Brenda are drugged and captured. Luckily, Minho and the Gladers ambush the party and save Thomas and Brenda.

Once again, Thomas has the worst luck: one of the Cranks turns out to have a pistol, and he shoots Thomas in the shoulder. To make things even weirder, WICKED sends a flying-saucer-type-deal called a Berg to take Thomas back to the WICKED headquarters so they can fix him up. Hey, WICKED didn’t expect a gun to be in the Scorch, so that doesn’t count as part of the trials.

Hmm, so WICKED said there were no rules, yet they just rescued Thomas because rules were broken. Strange.

Anyway, Thomas is dropped off with the group again, and they all make their way to the mountains. And whaddya know, Teresa is there with Group B, a bunch of girls who were also put through the Maze trials. Teresa isn’t so happy anymore, and she seems to hate Thomas. In fact, Group B takes Thomas hostage: they walk away with him to kill him.

On their way to the place where he’s supposed to be killed, Thomas talks the girls out of killing him. He thinks that WICKED is testing the girls’ rational thinking as another Variable. The girls let Thomas go, but Teresa is not happy, and she storms away. Evidently, she wants this guy dead, so bad. She meets back up with everyeone when they’re almost at the safe haven; there, she convinces Thomas to follow her, pleading that she was only acting mean.

Then comes her betrayal: she totally leads Thomas to a dark room, where he’s supposed to be killed. She’s been accompanied by Aris the whole time, and he’s been communicating with her telepathically ever since they were put into the Maze. Ouch. Thomas is crushed. Turns out their mission was to kill Thomas the whole time.

Thomas is gassed in the room, but he doesn’t die. In fact, his injuries from getting whacked on the head by Teresa’s spear are cured, and she comes running into the room telling him it was all an act. The story goes that WICKED told her they’d kill Thomas if she didn’t do what she was told; her mission was to make Thomas feel betrayed, or else WICKED would kill him.

Well, we’re not sure what to think of that, but we can tell you one thing: boy, does this boy feel betrayed.

Thomas reluctantly follows Aris and Teresa so that they can reach the safe haven. He doesn’t trust either of them, despite the fact that they seem like they’re genuinely sorry for what they did. The three meet up with Groups A and B, who are standing over a stick with a flag that says “The Safe Haven.”

With an hour left until the end of the trials, giant coffin-like containers suddenly descend from the clouds, and huge monsters climb out. Oh, brother.

Both groups are forced to fight the monsters, and there’s basically an epic battle. A few Gladers die, but no one too important. Then when the trial time is up, another Berg appears, and everyone jumps on it. Finally, the trial is over.

Haha. Not quite.

A man who represents WICKED isn’t too happy about the fact that Brenda and Jorge have made it onto the Berg, since they aren’t test subjects. Oh, well—Thomas steals the dude’s gun and forces him to let Brenda and Jorge stay.

Everyone’s placed back in a dormitory again, except for Thomas, who finds himself in a plain white room. Teresa speaks to him telepathically, asking if he’s okay. She tells him that everyone’s been in the dorms for a week, but WICKED has been telling everyone that Thomas has the Flare, so he’s being treated elsewhere. Thomas gets totally fed up with Teresa and tells her to go away, real mature-like.

Though she’s hurt, Teresa consents, but she tells Thomas one last thing: “WICKED is good

The story ends there, but then the epilogue begins with yet another memorandum from Ava Paige, the Chancellor of WICKED. She says that things are going well despite a few hiccups, and the kids are all going to have their memories restored eventually.

Again another really good read. I would recommend checking it out. Stay tuned for my next book review/ summary.

The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Lowry narrates The Giver in third person (“He said,” as opposed to “I said,” which is called first person), using a limited omniscient viewpoint (only Jonas’ thoughts and feelings are revealed). Through Jonas’ eyes, his community appears to be a utopia — a perfect place — that is self-contained and isolated from Elsewhere, every other place in the world. No evidence of disease, hunger, poverty, war, or lasting pain exists in the community. Jonas’ family, like all other families in the community, includes a caring mother and father and two children — one male child and one female child. Jonas’ mother has an important job with the Department of Justice, and his father has a job as a Nurturer, taking care of newborns. Jonas has one younger sister, Lily. His family seems ideal. Each morning, they discuss their dreams that they had the previous night; during the evening meal, they share feelings about the events of the day, comforting and supporting each other according to the rules of the community.

As we learn more about Jonas’ family, we also learn about the community as a whole. Family units must apply for children, spouses do not get to choose one another but, instead, are matched, and grandparents do not exist. All of a sudden, this utopia that Lowry has created doesn’t seem quite right. The mood is foreboding, a feeling that something bad will happen. This mood suggests that Jonas’ community is far from perfect.

A long time ago, the people in Jonas’ community chose to have the community ruled by a Committee of Elders. The Committee of Elders controls everyone and everything, blasting rules and reprimands from loudspeakers located throughout the community, including in every family dwelling. A total of fifty infants are born to Birthmothers every year. Each peer group is identified by its age — for example, Threes, Sevens, Nines — and must follow specific rules about appropriate clothing, haircuts, and activities for that particular peer group. When children become Eights, they begin mandatory volunteering and are closely observed by the Committee of Elders so that the committee can assign a lifelong profession to each child at the Ceremony of Twelve, which takes place every year during the December Ceremony.

The Giver begins with Jonas’ apprehension about his Ceremony of Twelve, when he will be assigned his lifelong job. He can guess which jobs his friends, Fiona and Asher, will be assigned, but he has no idea what his own job Assignment will be. At the Ceremony, Jonas learns that he has been selected to become the next Receiver of Memory, the highest position in the community.

Jonas begins training under the present Receiver of Memory, an older man whom Jonas calls The Giver. The Giver lives alone in private rooms that are lined with shelves full of books. Jonas’ training involves receiving, from The Giver, all of the emotions and memories of experiences that the people in the community chose to give up to attain Sameness and the illusion of social order. The first memory that Jonas receives from The Giver is a sled ride down a snow-covered hill. Jonas has never before experienced going downhill, cold weather, or snow. Eventually, through memories, The Giver teaches Jonas about color, love, war, and pain. Jonas begins to understand the hypocrisy that exists in his community — that is, the illusion that everything in the community is good when in fact it isn’t. The people appear to love each other, but they don’t really know what love feels like because their lives are a charade; their reactions people have given up their freedoms to feel and think as individuals, choosing instead to be controlled by others.

One day, Jonas asks The Giver if he can watch a video of a release his father performed on an infant earlier that morning. He watches and is horrified when he realizes that a release is really forced death by lethal injection. Jonas discusses his feelings with The Giver, and they decide on a plan that will force the people to give up Sameness. However, before they can carry out their plan, Jonas learns that Gabriel, a two-year-old infant who has been staying with Jonas’ family unit because Gabriel has trouble sleeping through the night, is going to be released — killed. To prevent Gabriel from being killed, Jonas takes Gabriel, whom he loves, and together they ride a bicycle out of the community to Elsewhere. By escaping the community, all of the memories that Jonas has received from The Giver will be transmitted back to the citizens in the community, forcing them to experience feelings and emotions and to remember their past.

Jonas travels for days and days with Gabriel, who is dying from starvation and the cold weather. Finally, they come to the top of a hill where there is snow and a sled. They get on the sled and ride downhill toward music and Christmas lights. What actually happens to Jonas and Gabriel? Do they die? Are they dreaming? Do they go to a house with lights and music? Do they end up back in their original community? Do the people in the community change? All of these questions are left unanswered at the end of the book. Lowry intentionally writes an ambiguous ending so that readers can decide for themselves what happens to Jonas and Gabriel at the end of The Giver.

A very good book. it’s very we written. would recommend.

 

The Maze Runner Summary

Cover of the Maze Runner features very tall green hedges alongside a building with two protruding spikes
The Maze Runner

In the dark of an elevator, a teenaged boy awakes with no memories other than that his name is Thomas. When the elevator comes to a halt, the doors open and Thomas finds himself surrounded by around fifty teenaged boys. Their leader, a boy in his late-teens named Alby, welcomes him to the Glade. Surrounded by extremely high stone walls covered in thick ivy, the Glade is a large square piece of land with a few wood and concrete buildings. In each of the surrounding four walls, there is a narrow opening.

Over the course of the next few days, Thomas learns that behind the walls is the Maze – a labyrinthine structure full of Grievers. Grievers are violent mechanical creatures that only come out at night. Since the openings to the Maze, what the Gladers call Doors, close at night, the Grievers cannot get into the Glade. During the day, a few of the boys, the Runners, navigate the Maze in order to find an exit. On the same day every month, the elevator brings a new male arrival. But on the day after Thomas arrives, the elevator returns with a teenaged girl in a coma.

The next day Alby and Minho, a Runner, go into the Maze to investigate a report about a dead Griever. A few minutes before the Doors close, Thomas sees Minho dragging an unconscious Alby towards the Door. With no one else around to help, Thomas enters the Maze right as the Doors close behind him. Inside, Minho tells him that a Griever stung Alby. Thomas and Minho lure a group of Grievers away from Alby and towards the Cliff– a place in the Maze where the path ends and overlooks an empty expanse. As the Grievers charge at them, the boys dive out of the way, causing the Grievers to disappear off the Cliff.

It’s morning and the Doors are open by the time they are able to return to Alby’s location. Newt, Alby’s second-in-command, cures Alby by giving him the Grief Serum, which causes him to go through the Changing, Newt tells Thomas that the Changing is a painful side effect of the Serum that makes people recall some of their memories.

In the following days, the girl, whose name is Teresa, wakes up and tells Thomas that the Maze is code. The sun also suddenly disappears, which causes the Doors to remain open at night. On the first night the doors stay open, the Grievers come into the Glade and carry off a boy named Gally into the Maze. The Gladers hope that the Grievers will only take one boy per night.

The following day, Thomas uses the maps that the Runners made of the Maze to figure out that the Maze’s shifting walls have been spelling out the phrase, “Float. Catch. Bleed. Death. Stiff. Push.” To understand the code’s meaning, Thomas purposefully gets stung by the Grievers so that he can go through the Changing and recover some of his memories. After the Changing, Thomas remembers that to escape the Maze, they must put the code into a computer that is inside an invisible portal. To get to the portal, they must jump off the Cliff.

After convincing them to follow his plan, Thomas helps lead an armed band of Gladers into the Maze. At the Cliff, a group of Grievers are waiting for them. Thinking that they will only kill one person a night, Alby sacrifices himself to the Grievers. But his sacrifice fails and the Gladers must attack the Grievers as Thomas and Teresa make their way into the portal. Inside, Teresa plugs in the code, which shuts down all the Grievers.

The surviving Gladers meet Thomas and Teresa in the portal. They find a slide that brings them to a giant facility where they meet the creators of the Maze. A woman with the word WICKED stitched into her lab coat and a man in a hood approach the Gladers. The woman congratulates them but says there is still one more test. The man takes off his hood, revealing himself as Gally. Seeming to be mind-controlled, Gally throws a knife at Thomas, but a fellow Glader, Chuck, jumps in front of the knife. As Thomas cradles Chuck’s lifeless body, a group of men and women come into the facility and shoot the woman. The Gladers follow them onto a bus and they all drive into the night.

On the bus, the unnamed leader of this group tells the Gladers that in the world outside the Maze, there has been a devastating ecological disaster that has caused a widespread outbreak of disease. WICKED hoped to raise children in the harsh environment of the Maze so that they would be better prepared to face the challenges of the real world. The leader says WICKED’s actions are inhumane and that her group fights to save children from their experiments. They bring the Gladers to a safe-house and give them a place to eat and sleep in peace.

The novel ends with an email by the Chancellor of the Maze Trials, Ava Paige. She writes that the “rescue” was a good finale and that after the group gets a good night’s sleep, phase two of the experiment will begin.

It is a really good book and I would recommend checking it out. The Maze Runner Trilogy is also made into movies so you should check those out too. Stay tuned for my reviews of the next 2 books and maybe even the 2 prequels.

Everything, Everything

The cover of a book titled Everything, Everything has blue and white letters and a collage of colorful objects around them
Everything, Everything

Madeline Whittier is an 18-year-old with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID). She is violently allergic to countless substances, so she lives in a sealed-off and sterilized home with her mother. Her only other company is her nurse, Carla.

Her quiet life changes when a new family moves in next door. The Bright family has two teenage children, and their mother sends them over to the Whittiers’ house with a cake as a present. Madeline’s mother does not accept the cake or allow the teens to enter her home because they might contaminate her daughter.

However, Olly Bright, one of the teens, is determined to meet Madeline. He writes his email address on the glass of his bedroom window, and he and Madeline quickly become friends by exchanging emails and instant messages. Madeline begs Carla to allow Olly to visit her, and eventually Carla agrees. After just one visit, Madeline starts to feel like she’s falling in love with Olly. She agonizes over whether to continue their friendship since it might lead to a broken heart, but ultimately decides to keep meeting Olly.

During one in-person visit, Madeline reveals to Olly that her father and older brother were killed in a car accident when she was a baby. The settlement money from the accident allowed her mother to pay for their specially sealed home and its industrial quality air filtration system. Olly also begins to discuss his family’s difficult situation, specifically his father’s alcoholism and domestic violence problem.

Carla is concerned that Madeline is neglecting her relationship with her mother in order to spend all her spare time emailing and IMing Olly. It grows harder for Madeline to keep her romantic life a secret from her mother.

One day, the secret is revealed when Madeline looks out her window and sees Olly being punched by his drunken father. For the first time in 17 years, Madeline leaves her home, rushing outdoors to help the boy she loves. She screams at Mr. Bright to stop, which surprises him so much that he stops beating Olly. Madeline is then dragged back indoors by her mother.

Madeline’s mom grounds her after she discovers Olly and Madeline’s secret relationship. She also fires Carla for jeopardizing Madeline’s health by allowing another person into the house. After several weeks of being grounded from the internet, except for her school studies, Madeline realizes that her old routine of solitary study and hangouts with her mother is no longer satisfying. She wants to live for a few days in the outside world, even if it means she will die quickly.

Madeline sneaks out of her house and convinces Olly to run away with her to Hawaii. She lies and tells him that she has experimental pills that will allow her to manage her SCID symptoms. After landing in Maui, Madeline and Olly check into a hotel and visit the beach. She is able to shop for souvenirs, eat tropical foods, go snorkeling and even go cliff diving with no ill effects. Olly and Madeline confess their love to each other and sleep together.

Madeline wakes up in the middle of the night in severe pain. She is rushed to the hospital, where her heart stops and she has to be resuscitated. Her mother arrives in Hawaii and takes her home.

Once again Madeline is grounded as she recovers from her near-death experience. When she regains internet privileges, she tells Olly that she can’t talk with him anymore because it’s too painful to be reminded of the life she can’t have. One day, Madeline sees a moving van next door and realizes that Olly and his mom and sister are finally moving away from the abusive Mr. Bright.

Weeks later, Madeline receives an email from the emergency room doctor who treated her during her hospitalization in Hawaii. The doctor says that Madeline’s violent allergic reaction was the result of a viral infection and her medical tests show no evidence of SCID whatsoever. Madeline confronts her mother with this new piece of information, but her mother insists that she does have SCID.

Madeline secretly looks through her mother’s old files and records. She discovers that when she was 6 months old, just after her father and brother had died in a car accident, her mother became obsessed with keeping her safe. Madeline had been constantly ill as an infant, so her mother decided that Madeline had SCID without receiving any formal diagnosis. Madeline is horrified to realize that she does not have a disease and that she has been kept locked away for her entire life because of her mother’s paranoia.

With Carla’s help, Madeline finds a new doctor who urges her to enter the outside world carefully and gradually. Although Madeline doesn’t have SCID, she does have a compromised immune system due to living in a sterile environment.

In the following weeks, Madeline grows more independent. She books a flight to New York to go see Olly, this time with her mother’s knowledge. She texts him that she’s leaving him a present at a local bookshop. She hides in another aisle in order to surprise him, then they joyfully reunite and (it is implied) restart their romance.

I’d honestly give Everything Everything a 10/10 because it takes the usual “sick person falling in love with someone who’s not” trope and spins it in a way you wouldn’t have anticipated. The fact that Maddie is not sick and doesn’t die was unexpected but greatly appreciated. This book was also made into a movie in 2017 which was also very good. I recommend you watch it as well.