Book Battles: The Maze Runner vs Variant

The_Maze_Runner_cover variant

I read The Maze Runner about a year ago.  I liked it well enough to read the whole trilogy.  After I put it down, I kind of put it out of my mind. Recently, I needed an audio book to listen to and I found Variant on Overdrive and downloaded it to my phone.  It grabbed me right away and I am now half way through the second book in the trilogy.  The books have many similarities, so I thought I would compare them for you.  Each has a teen male as the main character. Each is thrown into an involuntary imprisonment and has to find a way out.  Each has a girl they are falling for (Variant has more than one).  Each has to choose an allegiance with a group inside their respective prisons.   Both groups know that they are under constant surveillance and their surveyors reward them for good behavior and punish them for bad behavior, with things like withholding food. Each suspects they are involved in some kind of experiment. Here are some more of the specifics about each book.

In The Maze Runner Thomas wakes up in a strange place and he cannot remember how he got there or anything about his life before he got there.  He meets a group of all male teens who introduce him to the glade.  They also have their own language of sorts and it takes a little while as a reader to figure out what on earth these kids are talking about.  It doesn’t take too long to figure it out.  Turns out every boy in the Glade arrived the same way as Thomas.  Everyone has a different to do everyday and all of their basic necessities are provided for.  The most esteemed job is that of the maze runner.  In the Glade there is a giant maze and the boys aer convinced that finding the exit will give them freedom.  There is, of course, a catch.  Every morning there are stone walls that lower, allowing entrance to the maze and raise every night, blocking it off. Fierce monsters arrive in the maze every night and no one has survived a night in the maze.  Will Thomas be the first to survive a night in the maze and find a way for his group?

Benson Fisher is the main character in Variant. Benson is a ward of the state who has gone from foster home to foster home his whole life.  He finds a school called Maxfield Academy online and thinks it is his ticket to becoming his own man.  When he arrives, he notices strange things right off, like students staring at him through the windows with looks of doom on their faces and some teens making a run for it when the front door opens.  The minute Benson enters Maxfield and the doors lock him in, he realizes his mistake.  He is forced to pick a tracking unit to wear, informed that he is being constantly monitored and told must pick one of three gangs to join up with.  Benson’s main goal is to escape the school and he can’t understand some of the students complacency with being imprisoned at Maxfield.

One of the big differences with the two books is that The Maze Runner is set in a dystopian world, where the little bits and pieces we learn about the outside paint it as a bleak and awful future, while Variant is set in current times.  One of my favorite things about Variant are the paintball games the students have to play.  They are pretty cool. Overall, I would have to say that Variant was the better book.  The Maze Runner had a lot of suspense and mystery, almost to the point of being frustrating, while Variant had just the right amount of suspense to keep you reading.  Variant had a really good surprise ending that made me get the second book right away.  I enjoyed both books and would recommend them both, but I just enjoyed Variant more.

Read and Reel: Jumper by Steven Gould

I kind of did this backwards to the way I usually do things.  Usually I read a book first, and if they later make it into a movie I’ll go see it.  This time I saw a relatively old movie (2008), and discovered that it was from an even older book (1992!!!) by an author I’d never heard of.  So, I read the book.

The book by Steven Gould
The book by Steven Gould

The movie was pretty entertaining, but not a real head scratcher.  It had plenty of action and great special effects tied to a  thin plot.  It reminded me alot of the film “Abduction” starring Taylor Lautner.  Both are really fun movies if you’re just looking to be entertained for awhile.

The movie version
The movie version

The book was a bit different – not so fast paced, dialogue a little clumsy to read in the beginning, and had some big plot changes from the movie. Major among these differences was the movie’s introduction of a group of religious fanatics called “Paladins” who try to roundup and kill the jumpers.  This isn’t in the book. Hollywood always has to add splashy adversaries.  [SIDE NOTE: A “Paladin” by the way was a warrior whose job was to rid the world of Evil during Charlemagne’s time. Their motto was  Paladins fear nothing, for Evil fears them.  Kind of like Chuck Norris.]

In the book, David’s father beats him and the first time he jumps it is to escape from his father and he lands in the public library.  A GOOD PLACE FOR SANTUARY IN MY OPINION.  In the movie, however David’s father doesn’t abuse him, and the first time he jumps it is because he was trying to impress a girl and fell beneath a frozen pond.  To escape drowning he jumps into the library, but he brings a bunch of water and ice back with him and destroys the place.  We library employees kind of frown on that .

Steven Gould wrote a sequel to JUMPER called REFLEX  in 2004 which continues David’s story as an adult.

Book 2 of 4
Book 2 of 4

and another book called IMPULSE in 2013 which tells the story of David’s daughter, Cent.

Book 3 of 4
Book 3 of 4

There is supposed to be a third novel called EXO coming out.  See info on Steven Gould’s Blog here

In 2008, right after the movie came out, he “collaborated” on JUMPER: GRIFFIN’S STORY which was supposed to be a prequel to David’s story following a character that was in the movie named Griffin.

The Prequel that meshes the book with the movie
The Prequel that meshes the book with the movie

Griffin was not even in the original book – which I guess is why this prequel was written to tie up the discrepancies between the book and the movie.

There is also a JUMPER video game out about this.

I hope you give this author a chance…he’s been hanging out there for awhile. He could be like, you know, your DAD.

The Spy, Sleuth and Snoop Scoop


Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Chapter 1
“I’m a senior at Cesar Chavez, High in San Francisco’s sunny Mission district, and that makes me one of the most surveilled people in the world. My name is Marcus Yallow, but back when this story starts, I was going by w1n5t0n. Pronounced “Winston.”
Not pronounced “Double-you-one-enn-five-tee-zero-enn”— unless you’re a clueless disciplinary officer who’s far enough behind the curve that you still call the Internet “the information superhighway.”

Ink by Amanda Sun


Amanda Sun’s debut book Ink, is an absolutely great read. Katie Greene has lost her mother, and has moved in with her aunt in Japan. Although, Katie would rather go to an international school she ends up at Suntaba, an exclusive Japanese-speaking school. Guess what- Katie can’t speak a lick of Japanese. All Katie wants is to live with her grandparents in Canada, until she overhears the mysterious Yuu Tomohiro’s cruel breakup with his girlfriend. Everything about Tomohiro screams dangerous, Katie can’t resist the magnetic current or his drawings that actually come to life. Do they? Really.
Tomohiro just wants the blond-haired girl to leave him alone. It is better that way, but she is everywhere. If he had to admit it, he liked her too. However the ink craves her and it is becoming harder to control. Tomohiro will do anything to protect Katie from the forces that will destroy her, including him. Ink invades all your senses of the Japanese culture. I absolutely can’t wait for the next book in the series of the Paper Gods.