Book Review: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner

by James Dashner

Published by Delacorte Press

374 pages

MR

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

My Review: 

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.

4 stars (2)

 

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Picturebook Review: Esio Trot

Esio Trot 

by Roald Dahl

Illustrated by Quentin Blake

Published by Penguin

62 pages

ET

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Mr. Hoppy is in love with Mrs. Silver, but her heart belongs to Alfie, her pet tortoise. Mr. Hoppy is too shy to approach Mrs. Silver, until one day he comes up with a brilliant idea to win her heart. If Mr. Hoppy’s plan works, Mrs. Silver will certainly fall in love with him. But it’s going to take one hundred and forty tortoises, an ancient spell, and a little bit of magic

My Review:

Who would make a picture book about an older couple falling in love? Roald Dahl would.

Dahl’s stories are for children, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hold mature content. It’s not intended for the adults either. Dahl’s books are completely capable of capturing a child’s attention and thought, making him one of the bravest authors. Where some today might think a child would not consider a love story of mature adults entertaining, Roald Dahl has just to trick to make it so.

The story of Esio Trot is simple. A man loves a woman, but is much to shy to say so. The woman is seemingly oblivious to his affection, and so, in a very Dahl-like fashion, the man devises a creative and slightly absurd plan to prove his affections for the woman.

In this hilarious journey, Mr. Hoppy discovers the love he was so eager to prove with his grand schemes, was actually much simpler than his anxious mind had imagined. I’ve read places that this book makes the point that women are dumb and easily tricked, since trickery is certainly a part of Mr. Hoppy’s plan to make Mrs. Silver fall in love with him, but I wholeheartedly disagree. The two have clear affections for one another and Mr. Hoppy’s devised scheme is merely the act that brings them together, although it turns out it wasn’t truly necessary. If anything, a lesson here is that love is quite simple, and any man can make grand gestures towards love, but don’t wait to long because chances are she’s feeling the same way. In the end when Mrs. Silver says, “what took you so long”  – that was whole idea of the story. Seems like, we’re all fools in love.

At 64 pages, a book with pictures, and some of Roald Dahl’s hilarious nonsense, readers of any age can (and just might)  understand the worries of affection. Does he really like me? Does she even notice me? It’s all very familiar if you think about it.

Esio Trot is an entertaining read, not quite as riveting as some of Dahl’s other books, but curious all the same. The ending was somewhat predictable, but the method was wild and fun. It’s a short read, but lots to think about.

I give Esio Trot by Roald Dahl a three out of five stars. 

3 Stars