Author Archives: A Novel Approach

The Maze Runner Guide To The Glade

MazeRunnerGladeGuide As someone who has not yet had a chance to read The Maze Runner, Inside the Maze Runner, The Guide To The Glade was a treat. Filled with pictures from the film, quotes letting me know who key characters are and interesting tidbits about them, the book tempted me with just enough information to make me feel like I would not be walking into a party full of strangers, but into a room full of acquaintances with whom I have a nodding acquaintance. Without spoiling the plot of the film, the guide shares the key points I feel I need to understand so I can now go into the movie feeling like I have a clue and will understand things, and have no fear I’m going to come out immediately wishing I could see it a second time to figure out the things I did not understand the first time around.

For those who read the book some time ago, I would imagine this guide would serve nicely as a memory jog of which characters serve what function within the community/family in the Glade, and helps to associate faces with names.

The Guide did a fantastic job of sparking my interest and curiosity about the movie, making me want to see how they would take this premise and bring it to life, especially after I saw the picture of the map room!

Links of Interest:
IMDB: The Maze Runner
Wikipedia: The Maze Runner
Maze Runner Movie Website

Legends – TNT

Legends Banner

TNT’s Legends, based on the Robert Littell novel of the same name (and with Robert Littell as a consultant on the show) has taken the conflict and intrigue of the novel and pulled it forward ten years while centering it predominantly in the United States.

WhoIsMartinOdumThe novel is a globe trotting adventure that encompasses several years as Martin Odum recalls several of his previous legends, while trying to figure out what is truly him, what was his true life, and what he drew from and altered to create the legends he used to successfully in his service to country.

Where the novel centers around a CIA agent who has retired after some injuries and become a Private Detective in New York, the television show takes the same basic character, equally well known for his ability to take on Deep Cover assignments, but he is an FBI agent still actively working for he bureau.

It is hard to tell which of the supporting characters on the show directly parallel, or are drawn from characters in the book, in part because some of the first names are kept but many of the surnames changed, but also across the board ages and descriptions are changed.

Len Barlow / Martin Odum

Len Barlow / Martin Odum

On the show Martin is presented in the pilot as an agent who trusts himself, relies on himself, and has typically built his own legends, and is now learning to be more of a team player.  In the book there is a committee that helps create the legends, and some of the conversations there are entertaining as the possibilities are tossed around for how various aspects of the character might have come to be, or how certain things might be explained.

Where the television show Outlander is doing such a great job taking the characters almost exactly as they appear in the book and translating them to the screen, Legends, like Cedar Cove, is taking a great many more liberties.  Lincoln Dittman is in the book as well as the television show, and while there are similarities to the characters, their backgrounds have a host of differences, from occupation to why they are disenchanted with the federal government.

Lincoln Dittman

Lincoln Dittman

While the various Legends / personas were clearly different and identifiable in the book, Sean Bean does an amazing job on the show of slipping between them, one moment sounding like Martin Odum, and the next his accent changes, his mannerism change, his smile has a different lilt, and before the audiences very eyes a new character appears on screen.

The novel Legends kept pulling out new twists, yet through it all I was always confident that Martin Odum was the good guy, and I believed those who knew him and worked with him had every confidence in that as well.  There are times in the television show when I think that could be clearer, or if they are taking a different tack I think it could be better shown / explained.  In the show he is more of a loose cannon who goes so deep under cover that he only makes contact when he needs something, and it has been implied that others find that hard to trust, but I feel like something more is being hinted at.

Dante Auerbach

Dante Auerbach

Either way, the show is shaping up to be more compelling, and more self-contained within each episode than I originally dared to hope for, and the over-all arc for the season looks like it has strong potential, especially if it is in keeping with the main arc of the novel, which I found thought-provoking and interesting.

The first episode was darker and more conspiracy driven than I prefer, and the sense of conspiracy crops up from time to time, but not so much that it overwhelms the show or its characters.  Rather it has come to feel like a puzzle being solved as one man seeks to remember who he was, and what he was like, before he started slipping into these Legends so often and easily.

The novel:

Martin Odum is a one-time CIA field agent turned private detective in Brooklyn, struggling his way through a labyrinth of memories and past identities- “legends” in Agency parlance. But who is Martin Odum? Is he a creation of the Legend Committee at the CIA’s Langley headquarters? Is he suffering from multiple personality disorder, brainwashing, or simply exhaustion?

vs the show:

Sean Bean Stars as an Undercover Agent with One Hell of an Identity Crisis

An undercover agent is plunged into a terrifying mystery over his own identity in TNT‘s intense new drama series Legends, starring Screen Actors Guild Award® winner Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, Troy). Based on the award-winning book by master spy novelist Robert Littell,

In Legends, Bean plays Martin Odum, an undercover agent working for the FBI’s Deep Cover Operations (DCO) division. Martin has the uncanny ability to transform himself into a completely different person for each job. But he begins to question his own identity when a mysterious stranger suggests that Martin isn’t the man he believes himself to be.

Legends also stars Ali Larter (Heroes) as Crystal McGuire, a fellow operative who has a history with Martin; Morris Chestnut (American Horror Story, Nurse Jackie) as Tony Rice, a smart, quick-witted and charming DCO agent; Tina Majorino (Grey’s Anatomy, Veronica Mars, True Blood) as Maggie Harris, the newest member of the DCO team; Steve Harris (The Practice, Awake) as Nelson Gates, the director of the DCO Task Force; and Amber Valletta (Revenge) as Sonya Odum, Martin’s ex-wife; and Mason Cook (The Lone Ranger) as Martin’s pre-teen son, Aiden.

As Martin tries to find answers to the questions about his identity, he must also continue his primary job as an undercover operative, taking on such roles as a Serbian extremist, a Scottish soccer club executive, a corrupt Chicago police officer, British special forces colonel and a legendary computer hacker. There are many times, however, when he must choose between the demands of his job and his desperate desire to solve the mystery of his own identity. And he doesn’t always make the right choice.

Legends airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. (ET/PT) on TNT

Connect with TNT’s Legends


Outlander – The Garrison Commander

Lt. Foster, Claire and Dougal

Lt. Foster, Claire and Dougal

The sixth episode of Starz Outlander, The Garrison Commander, covers more of the events in Chapters 10 through 21, again changing a lot of the story line, adding characters, and recrafting events in intriguing and fascinating ways.

From the moment I first started reading the book the character Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish) fascinated me.  In most current Romance novels his alpha character introduction would have signaled his being a major player, and male interest for our female lead.  Because I knew I was reading the book in anticipation of the television series, and at the recommendation of a friend, I had opted not to read the back cover text about the novel.  As a result I entered the story blind, not knowing who was a major player in the story, and who was minor.

As a result, when Claire (Caitriona Balfe) first met Dougal (Graham McTavish) I was both intrigued and curious.  Who was this man, and what role would he play in Claire’s attempt to survive life in the 1700s?  Dougal (Graham McTavish), as portrayed in the telvision show, is slightly different than in the book, the nuances to his character fascinate me.  His loyalty to clan and country and never in question, but his motivations, and what he is seeing and how he will act on it is constantly of interest.

I assumed Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) would be the Garrison Commander for whom this episode was named, in part because he was the highest ranking Red Coat we were familiar with thus far.  I expected him to be the predominant face of the British troops, and thought I understood a great deal about the scenes that would unfold in this weeks episode.

As has happened so often in this series, the episode contained some scenes directly from the book, and portions from the book shifted to other characters and other positions.

I said last week that it was best to have read up through Chapter 21, and while I now realize that does cover into the next episode (The Wedding), I think some of those scenes have been merged and shifted into this week’s episode, and last week’s.  For instance, one character from this week’s episode is at the very end of chapter 20 (Corporal Hawkins).

Where the first episode of Outlander felt almost like an abridged presentation of the book, each episode since has felt less and less bound to the novel, and yet they have maintained the spirit and spark of the prose so well, that it can be difficult to fully recognize while you are watching the show which parts are created from scratch for the series, and where dialogue has been pulled from Dougal speaking to Claire beside the spring in Chapter 13 and given to Black Jack Randall in episode 6.  Hard to believe, and yet, so well done that each scene plays well, conveys the same scene with great power, and presents two different perspectives on the same scene and gives Claire very important knowledge about the world she is now surviving in, and the people around her.

Starz Outlander Wedding Invite

204 Rosewood Lane, Cedar Cove

Tonight another episode of Cedar Cove airs, and it feels like great timing for me since I just finished reading 204 Rosewood Lane.  This book centered on the story of Grace (Teryl Rothery) and Dan (Roark Critchlow) and their plot line was in many ways different from what the show has chosen to do.

It made for a fascinating read.  The show has captured all of the characters so well, that it is easy to hear the actors voices in your head as you read scenes with Olivia (Andie MacDowell) and Jack (Dylan Neal), for instance, who appear throughout the book, and have extensive story lines of their own.

Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove novel’s may feature one set of characters with a predominant story that will have a complete arc in the book, but her entire town appears with interesting plots of their own to flesh out the experiences, fill the pages, and draw you in.  Like any real place you might visit, you don’t simply get to know the two people you sit down to talk to, but you get snippets from the waitress, the Bed and Breakfast keepers, and so on.

Maryellen (Elyse Levesqueand John Bowman’s (Charlie Carrick) relationship, which I have particularly enjoyed watching evolve on the tv show, was in this novel as well.  Given Maryellen is Grace’s daughter, that came as no surprise, but the fact that Olivia’s mother Charlotte (Paula Shawhad quite a story line of her own showed me that in every book I can hope to see all of the characters in town treated with an even hand.

I look forward to tuning in tonight for the episode Point of No Return.  Eric and Shelley and their pregnancy was in 204 Rosewood Lane as well, though again the details, and aspects of how the relationship evolved were different, leaving me to wonder how the show will proceed with Eric.

I’m finding in many cases I’m equally happy with what the books and the tv show have done with this characters.  It intrigues me that the personalities have been maintained between the two, that the charm of the people, and their town has been kept in tact, and the details of profession and drama have been changed.  As I said in my previous article, it almost feels as if the tv show explores what might have happened to these characters if they had made a different decision here or there.

Whether you read the book first, or watch the tv show first, the other becomes a “or maybe, when two roads diverged, had they chosen to take the path less traveled…” and I just keep watching/reading, exploring and getting caught up in the possibilities because the characters are both enchanting and complete.

If you have not already seen it, Debbie Macomber has on her website a map of Cedar Cove.  I had no doubts after reading 16 Lighthouse Road, and 204 Rosewood Lane that she had one in mind, but seeing one on her website is great fun.