Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

the-maze-runner

Thomas opened his eyes to a dank room and heard the voices of teenagers wafting through the rafters. He had no idea who he was, where he was, or how he got there. His first instinct was fear. His second, curiosity. After the teens hoisted him out of his cell, he learned this was the Glade. And the Glade happened to be a perfectly utopian society surrounded on all sides by an elaborate maze. A maze created by the unknown; a maze that has stood in harmony with the boys for two years, never being solved. Yet when Thomas arrived, the Gladers realized that everything was about to change. Maybe they’ll solve the larger-than-life puzzle, or maybe they’ll die trying.

I’m sure we’ve all heard about The Maze Runner. The next big dystopia, since the movie came out a couple months ago. I read it right before I went to the movie, and I have to say, I loved it. These fandoms form for a reason.

I began this book in a contemporary rut. I hate when I find myself trapped in one genre, so I felt I had to forcibly tear myself away and branch out again. In the beginning, I huffed and rolled my eyes and scoffed at the ridiculous names and diction of the boys. Then the first confrontation with the less… friendly boys hit. Next the first night in the maze had me gasping. And after that, my eyes flew across the page and my hands clutched the spine like a life-line.

It’s most definitely a page-turner. Hands down. The characters, while a lot of them are not likable, sort of grow on the reader. While they’re rude and harsh and rough, the reader starts to realize it’s because of their setting. Thomas, on the other hand, grants the readers’ support from the first page. We sympathize with his strange situation and cheer him on throughout the book. He’s strong and resourceful and somehow keeps his head up despite the reality of his predicament.

While being carefree is unheard of in the Glade, laughter isn’t impossible to find. I think Dashner does a great job of portraying the responsibility and maturity that comes with running an isolated town alone, but also adds an adolescence spin on it.

Also, a question of cruelty and survival appears in the novel. Toward the beginning, a boy is exiled for attacking Thomas. On one end, he wasn’t himself and probably didn’t realize what he was doing. On the other, anarchy would ensue if the leaders didn’t stop the violence at its source. Is it right to essentially kill one member for the greater good? Or is every life equally precious? It brings in the same themes of Lord of the Flies at some points, except when these boys are left alone, civilization persists. Survival by leaning on each other seems to work more efficiently than a chaotic land of savages, which is what the leaders prevented by stopping the violence swiftly.

The mystery of the novel as well as the events keep the reader intrigued. Who put the maze there? Why? Who are these boys in actuality? The lengths the boys go to in order to fight for their exit add the suspense a good dystopian novel needs. The battles, the nights of uncertainty, and the tension within the group add to the hardships and make freedom that much more important.

Overall, the book is every it needs to be and more. The romance is practically nonexistent. Which is fabulous, because it’s no fun to have love triangles and awkward kissing-while-fighting-monsters scenes. The thing that gets me: when a boy is the main character, romance is nothing, but when a girl takes a stand, she has to have  a boyfriend backing her up. But that’s an argument for another day.

I definitely recommend the book, especially for people looking for a Divergent/ Hunger Games fix. I plan to read the rest of the series, which is actually a big deal since I never have the will to finish a series. Plus, spoiler alert, Dashner tied up the book neatly, but added a little cliff-hanger at the end to get the reader pumped for the next installment. And it worked.

4 Stars

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