Review: The Maze Runner

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.

Writing: 4.5 wings

My favourite thing about the writing is the inventive use of swear words: shuck-face, klunk, shank. They really help establish the community that the teen boys have had to establish in the absence of adults. Otherwise, especially near the end, there were a few scenes that I would’ve shortened to keep the tension high.

Plot: 4 wings

I ploughed through the beginning, because there’s so many things happening–why are these teens trapped in the maze? Why do they have to solve it? What are those machine-monster things that roll around and threaten to eat them? And most importantly: who put them there? The potential exciting answers to these questions kept me hooked to read through to the middle and the end, where things get a little slow…and slightly disappointing.

I found it strange that something could erase specific memories, but not references to outside things. They know what movie theatres are, they know what the planets are called…it just disrupted the feeling that they were isolated by referencing things on the outside, even if they couldn’t remember being there. And that the people who are going through all this trouble of building a maze, supplying with resources so they can survive, creating monsters to terrorize them…all to test their survival skills for some “other” purpose…it seems a little excessive. I guess I expected a little more from the climax, and the ending.

Still though…the story has stayed with me even a week or two after reading, so that should could for something.

Characters: 3.5 wings

There’s a character in here named Chuck that reminescent of Lord of the Flies’ Piggy. The young kid that’s bossed around and teased but has a good heart. Thomas makes friends with Chuck but I felt that the brotherly connection that the author tried to establish between them wasn’t strong enough. I felt that Thomas was more annoyed more times by Chuck than amiable towards him. This is important because of what happens to Chuck later in the story.

The girl who is sent to the maze is largely absent for the first half of the book, as she goes into a coma after she arrives. Thomas has an “inexplicable” connection with her. I didn’t think there was anything special about her, other than she knows slightly more about the boys’ situation than they do. I was actually hoping that she and Thomas would turn out to be siblings–and who knows, there’s still two more books to go.

Overall: 4 wings

I think this could’ve been a strong one-off book, but the trilogies are the trend. There is an explanation at the end for why they’re there–sort of–and sets up the story for the next book. I think I’d be interested enough to read it.