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Authors of ‘Maze Runner,’ ‘Nemesis’ and ‘Matched’ prank, prattle and praise at library event

By Abby Bart | March 26, 2017

They roasted one another. They lauded each other. They shared embarrassing stories.

And then they danced.

Saturday brought the latest installment of the Provo City Library’s AuthorLink series, featuring New York Times best-selling young adult authors – and close friends – James Dashner, Brendan Reichs and Ally Condie in a raucously unconventional book reading, signing and panel discussion.

The event was intended to promote Dashner’s “The Fever Code,” the final installment in his “The Maze Runner” series, and Reichs’ “Nemesis,” the debut novel in his new duology. It was to be moderated by Ally Condie, the author of the “Matched” trilogy.

But the authors had something else in mind.

The revelry started as Condie and the library staff entered the venue — a small, blank-walled space known as “The Attic” that held more than 100 fans — and shed their jackets to reveal T-shirts with pictures of Reichs and Dashner. The shirts were intended to reconcile Reichs’ proclaimed jealousy that Condie had been granted the dubious honor of having had her face printed on a T-shirt at an earlier event.

Dashner and Reichs shared passages from one another’s new releases — the readings scattered with both insults and complements.

“When I heard the premise of your book, I wanted to murder you,” said Dashner to Reichs, regarding the latter’s novel “Nemesis.” “It was that good.”

The authors participated in a lightning round of questions, discussing everything from their Harry Potter-universe Hogwarts houses to the red carpet they’d most like to walk down. Condie quizzed Dashner and Reichs on the books that made them want to become writers – Dashner’s was “Superfudge” by Judy Blume, and Reichs’ was “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams.

The discussion portion of the event concluded with audience questions, including a moment of widespread outrage from readers when one audience member mentioned page 250 of Dashner’s novel “The Death Cure,” the third book in his “The Maze Runner” series. The page is a sore spot for fans of the series, because one of the book’s main characters suffers a tragic death.

Dashner responded to the outrage by telling fans he shares their strong feelings about that page. 

“I do get very sad; it was hard to write, and I have actually cried about it,” he said. 

He also revealed that, despite the negative reaction from fans to page 250, one of the coolest things he has experienced as an author is the number of people who regularly send him pictures of tattoos they’ve gotten of the phrase “we do not speak of page 250.”

To garner that kind of emotional response from readers, Dashner explained, is a huge compliment to his work.

Reichs kept the banter light by commenting on the disproportionate number of questions Dashner was receiving from audience members.

“I understand,” Reichs said. “I have questions for James as well.”

The panel was followed by a dance-off between Dashner and Reichs; a raffle hosted by Nelson for book-related merchandise — including some of the T-shirts; and a book signing.

Readers can find out if their favorite authors will be speaking at an AuthorLink event on the Provo City Library’s website.