The Maze Runner
by James Dashner
Published by Delacorte Press
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
What if the world you hated was better than the world you desired – you just didn’t know it yet?
Dashner poses a unique threat to a semi-post-apocalyptic premise. The harrowing tales of a group of boys who supposedly have been surviving in what they call the Glade for nearly two years, is unique in the sense that haven and danger stand side-by-side in this unpredictable tale.
The story lets in on the action, no background, just a boy who has only his name and no other memories. He’s welcomed to the Glade by a large group of boys about his age, and all he knows that this place is dangerous. How dangerous, though, he has no idea. The other boys seem to refuse to answer Thomas’s questions and since his arrival in the Glade, he suspects even more at risk than anyone lets on, and somehow he now has a part in it.
The Maze Runner isn’t an entirely new concept, it follows much of the popular fiction that kids have loved for years, but it does bring something new and fascinating to the story – puzzles. The whole book is like an abstract image you have to try to piece together. It can be a challenging read for some as there is so little information given throughout the story, especially in the beginning. The maze is just as fascinating and terrifying to the readers as it is to the characters, but mostly it is just infuriating. How many dead ends can you run into? Reader empathy is not too difficult with this book.
I mostly enjoyed the mazes of the book. Just like the boys struggled with the maze, readers struggled with the plot and all that it witheld.
However, there were some shortcomings to this book that I have a hard time overlooking. First, all the boys are considered geniuses. Well, there was never an explanation as to why all boys were chosen. There might be a very reasonable explanation, but Dashner so far has not offered anything to the readers. The only time a girl arrives, she is there to disrupt everything and mostly regarded in terms of her beauty. As a female reader, I’m trying not to find this text a bit sexist, but there was just so little explanation. Second, all the boys are considered geniuses, but they really didn’t prove that they knew that much. In fact, most of the time they seemed pretty clueless. Perhaps they shouldn’t have been described as genius, but rather courageous, because that they were. They were brave, but nearly to the point of stupidity. They endured a lot of misery over two years and still had the strength to carry on, but I’m not entirely convinced they were geniuses.
Some final thoughts – I loved the idea of the grievers. I’m intensely curious to see how they are portrayed in the upcoming film. I thought these were some incredibly creative monsters. Absolutely horrifying. It had this book balancing on the genres of supernatural thriller, mystery, and horror all at once.
And lastly, the ending of this book was fantastic, horrible, but the perfect shock to put any dedicated reader into a coma for at least an hour.
There’s a lot more I could talk about with this novel, but I’m going to end it here. Comment or email if you want to talk about it more!
I give The Maze Runner by James Dashner 4 out of 5 stars.