Monday, March 29, 2010

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

I've seen a lot of comparisons between The Maze Runner and both Lord of the Flies, and The Hunger Games. While I agree with some parts of these connections, I think they're all quite different from one another. Yes, they all deal with survival, but The Maze Runner seems to revolve predominantly around the idea of escape, and the importance of memory. I personally thought that the most frightening aspect of this book was that each Glader arrived with no memories of what they were doing there, and why.

The first half of the book allows the reader to learn about the Gladers (The group of male inhabitants), and the daily routine they had created to ensure their survival. We learn that the glade is surrounded by an ever-changing, seemingly unsolvable maze. This maze is the key to their escape, but it holds something sinister as well. The Grievers are extremely dangerous machines that roam the maze. They only have a few run-ins with Thomas, but what we saw of them was pretty chilling.

While reading this book I felt a lot like a Glader. I could only speculate (incorrectly, of course) about why the boys were there. I had to learn their slang, although it was obvious what most of the words were substitutes for. I think that this may be why I enjoy dystopian fiction so much. The reader is always kept guessing about the motives of each character, and what the end of the book will bring.

There were a few things that I thought could have been improved slightly. The first is that I wish we could have seen more of what was happening with Teresa. As the only female in the Glade, I wish I could have experienced more of how she interacted with the boys. I also wish I could have seen more fluid development from Thomas. I expect this to happen in book two, but sometimes it felt like he was extremely angry, and the next paragraph he was suddenly very calm. I chalked it up to dealing with the fact that he couldn't quite reach his memories, and found his surroundings extremely familiar.

In book two, I'm looking forward to seeing what new trials the group will face, what Wicked really wants, and more about the state of the world.

The Maze Runner
By James Dashner
Published by Delacorte press
374 Pages
Rating: B


Tales of Whimsy said...

Great review and clarifications. I can't wait to try this one.

Andrea said...

Great review! I have this on my audio list.

Patricia said...

I want to read this one! Great review :)

Aubrey said...

I'm glad you liked it. James is one of those authors I have met a few times and he is a really great guy! I can't wait for Scorch Trials!

Cecelia said...

Ah...this is one I've yet to read (thought it's sitting on my bookshelf...), and I'm excited to see what all the hype is about. Nice review!

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