Series: The Maze Runner #1
Published by Chicken House on 4 September 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dystopian, Mystery, Young Adult
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When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas can remember is his first name. But he's not alone. He's surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade, an encampment at the centre of a bizarre maze.
Like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they came to be there, or what's happening to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything to find out.
Being trapped in a maze with no escape and no memories of who you are is really terrifying, and The Maze Runner captured this sense of constant danger and foreboding.
The start of The Maze Runner presented a steep learning curve, with new slang to get used to. Thomas wakes up in a strange new place where people speak differently, have a whole new way of doing things, and are assigned different roles in the Glade for survival. They need to find an escape route to the maze which they live in, which is home to deadly Grievers. Along with not knowing who he is, where they are trapped and the threats of the maze, Thomas also has to deal with a mysterious girl in a coma and the suspicion of the Gladers.
“Can’t take a chance that one day, in one spot, somewhere, an exit might appear. We can’t give up. Ever.”
With so much world building and development, the book is slow and draggy, as we learn about the Gladers assigning ‘Runners’ to discover and document the paths of the maze. The depth of world is explored quite well, and the focus is definitely on the mystery of the maze. It wasn’t until halfway through the book when I really started getting into it, as Thomas started making discoveries about the maze and I really wanted to find out where it was all heading. I relished all the hints and the secrets and wanted to know what was going on, despite the slow build up.
Thomas was a really courageous, switched on guy who is brave and intelligent – pretty much a hero character. It’s convenient to have him discover the secrets of the maze after the Gladers have been working at it for 2 years, but hero characters like this are pretty standard, so I just went with it.
“Just follow me and run like your life depends on it. Because it does.” – Thomas
What depresses me about dystopian trilogies like The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games though, is that it never really ends until the end of the series. And even so, you’re betting on a proper ending, which isn’t guaranteed. The ending wasn’t really mind whopping or anything, perhaps because I’ve read so many dystopians by now I know what to expect.
Even so, The Maze Runner presents an interesting dystopian story with Gladers who are trapped in a dangerous maze. The characters and the slang will grow on you as you continue throughout the book,and you’ll be thoroughly invested in the end. It’s kind of refreshing to read something that takes the time to build up, instead of launching into typical storylines that made me frustrated with dystopians in the first place.
“Holy crap, I’m scared.”
“Holy crap, you’re human. You should be scared.”
James Dashner writes with precision, weaving in elements of mystery, action, survival and character development in The Maze Runner. He knows the story he has to tell, and moves away from the typical dystopian fare and focuses on the building up the dark, foreboding setting and the slow reveal of the mystery.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Maze Runner, and I’m now properly equipped to see the movie.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thank you to Scholastic Australia for sending me this review copy in exchange for an honest review.