Monday, November 29, 2010

The Maze Runner [Review]

Title: The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Series: Maze Runner #1
Genre: Science-Fiction
What They Say:
Imagine waking up one day in total darkness, unsure of where you are and unable to remember anything about yourself except your first name. You're in a bizarre place devoid of adults called the Glade. The Glade is an enclosed structure with a jail, a graveyard, a slaughterhouse, living quarters, and gardens. And no way out. Outside the Glade is the Maze, and every day some of the kids -- the Runners -- venture into the labyrinth, trying to map the ever-changing pattern of walls in an attempt to find an exit from this hellish place. So far, no one has figured it out. And not all of the Runners return from their daily exertions, victims of the maniacal Grievers, part animal, part mechanical killing machines.

Thomas is the newest arrival to the Glade in this Truman-meets-Lord of the Flies tale. A motley crew of half a dozen kids is all he has to guide him in this strange world. As soon as he arrives, unusual things begin to happen, and the others grow suspicious of him. Though the Maze seems somehow familiar to Thomas, he's unable to make sense of the place, despite his extraordinary abilities as a Runner. What is this place, and does Thomas hold the key to finding a way out?

What I Say: 
Again, this is one of those series that has been dancing around my periphery for a while, and I thought this short holiday week was the perfect time to delve into the odd-sounding book that is The Maze Runner. First off, dystopia = +5 cool points, but dystopia + amnesia + monsters + labyrinths + lots of running =

 Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Plot: wow
So one day, Thomas wakes up in the Glade, a community of about fifty boys on a farm. Only, he doesn't remember how he got there. Or who he is. And neither does anybody else. As Thomas begins to adapt to life in the Glade, he knows they must be there for a reason. He knows someone must have put them there. He knows there must be a way out of the labyrinth which surrounds the Glade on all sides, full of poisonous monsters and the Runners who navigate the Maze daily in hopes of finding an exit. He knows that the antidote changes the Runners somehow, maybe drives them crazy. That is, until a girl arrives in the lift with a message from the creators of the Maze: everything is about to change. Suddenly, Thomas has a bad feeling he might know more about the Maze than he thought he did. And he might not be the person he thinks he is...

I'd have to classify this story as half-adventure, half-horror. Thomas and the Gladers are put through more crazy, arbitrary, deadly trials than a sane person can handle, so I'm not surprised that some of them have totally lost it. I've never actually jumped while reading a book before, so hats off to James Dashner. His balance between humor and horror and pure genius is so precise and unstable it's pretty much radioactive. Gahh, this book was amazing. This review can't even start doing it justice. Gahh. I would say more, but all of the best parts are so very spoilery, so.

Characters: wow
Thomas is something I like to call awesome. He's pretty freakin' awesome. If I could leave alt-rock mixtapes in his mailbox or write him emo poetry, I would. Often. I can't put my finger on what exactly makes him so mind-bendingly amazing, but I can point out a few contributing factors. He has a pretty good handle on his snark. There are these great moments where you can tell Dashner just wanted to write Thomas was done putting up with this shit before reminding everyone what a major badass he is. Man, this book even made me like the name Thomas.

Newt. This books supports my theory that English people take snark classes in school. If this was the kind of book that needed comic relief (which it's so not), Newt would be a great example of how it's done. Oh man, he's great. Funny in a way that's mostly bitter and hurtful, because their situation is sooo bad. I can't imagine someone reading the book and not liking Newt.

Relationships: ooh
Thomas and Teresa - Intriiiiguing! I can't technically call this a relationship because there's never a clear Declaration of Like and she spends a good chunk of the book in a coma, but I mean come on. She's the only girl in the whole story, he's totally awesome, and they connect on so many levels. It's almost like he hears her voice in his head. Did I say that?

Special Features: ooh
After two years living apart from society, the Gladers have come up with their own slang! (I guess that had nothing else to do). I feel like this is always a risky move for YA authors. I mean, sometimes made-up slang really enhances the story, but sometimes it just doesn't. The Glader slang is weird and awkward at first, but it starts to grow on you. At the very least, it's charming stuff.

Parting Quotes: 
   Newt finally broke the silence. "Anyway, next up - figure out what we do with Tommy here." 
   Thomas perked up at that..."Do with me? What're you talking about?"
   Newt stood, stretched his arms. "Turned this whole place upside down, you bloody shank. Half the Gladers think you're God, the other half wanna throw your butt down the Box Hole. Lotta stuff to talk about."
 Nahh, Tom's like god's god.


  1. Really enjoyed this review! Sounds like a good read - love your comments on snark ;)

    -Linds, bibliophile brouhaha

  2. Great review, I enjoyed the book too! I just finished Scorch Trials. It keeps you on your toes!