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The Maze Runner by James Dashner (2009)
The Maze Runner (2009)
by James Dashner
Hardcover Edition
Publication Date: October 6th, 2009
Publisher: Random House; Delacorte Books for Young Adults
buy a copy via Amazon.
synopsis via Goodreads.

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 enclosed 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, open. Every night they are closed tight. And that every 30 days a new boy is delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. Only 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.

My Thoughts:
The Maze Runner thrives on the suspense and the fantastical setting. Just like Thomas, the protagonist, we are thrown into the Glade being just as (if not more) confused as him. The technology, the creatures, the absurdity of the situation was like a video game as we follow Thomas on his journey to solving it. The pace was fine, Dashner knows how to keep my attention with action. But one of the biggest issues are the characters: especially Thomas, who despite his bravery doesn’t seem like a smart guy; he only “solves” the whole thing by relying on past memories. However, The Maze Runner is comprised with many surprising elements that draw me into the story, keeping me reading to find out how the pieces fit together. An exciting (even if dark) story of a group of teenagers trying to solve their way out of a dire situation.

 

Plot:
Thomas wakes up in an elevator and is led to The Glade, a town of only boys surrounded by a Maze. There are also monsters that lurk the Maze at night, so that nobody is allowed out of The Glade after the walls close. Every week, supplies are sent from the elevator, and every month a new boy is sent. There are different jobs: farmers, cooks, police officers, janitors, etc. And then there are the Runners, a group of elite Gladers sent to run in the maze everyday to find an exit. The Maze changes everyday, and for two years, an exit hasn’t been found. Thomas feels strongly tied to being a Runner, but before think about it-a girl comes up in the elevator.

Language:
The Gladers have their own slang, which I suspect might be a way to bypass swearing for a novel targeted towards young teens. The abundance of strange words bogs down the story a bit and leaves me in complete confusion in the first chapter. The slang could have been used a bit less so the reader has a stronger grasp of what’s going on. If anything, it sounded like the boys were using the slang to intimidate people. Gradually we begin to know what words stand for and it becomes less of a distraction. However, I am not sure why they start creating slang that makes them sound like cavemen even though they all know English. If you are fine with the slang in Moira Young’s Blood Red Road, The Maze Runner’s language won’t faze you.

Dark:
There’s no gore, but there are a LOT of deaths. Thankfully, their deaths usually don’t arise from unnecessary fighting. The Gladers generally know they have to work together, and killing one of their own is just not helping the situation.

Characters:
I am confused as to why The Maze Runner is written in third person limited instead of first person. Obviously we can’t have such a suspenseful story in third person omniscient: there wouldn’t be any secrets if the narrator is supposed to know everything. We only get follow Thomas and knows what he knows, but the third person stance leaves me unable to understand Thomas. I want to know what is going inside his head. Because of the narrator, the other characters, although many of them likable, don’t get enough depth.

Thomas: Protagonist and one of the reasons why The Maze Runner has a slow start: it’s because he SO CONFUSED, with so many questions. HOLD YOUR HORSES AND WAIT FOR THEM TO EXPLAIN, DUDE! Makes me want to yell at him to stop interrupting the story with his questions. He is like the annoying kid in class that doesn’t know when to shut up. I know why his peers ignore him half the time now. It just might be a guy thing, or a sign of his natural curiosity. I applaud his bravery, his intelligence, but I expected more to solving everything than just remembering stuff. A bit of a let down to be honest. Despite his talkative, curious nature, his determined demeanor makes him a good leader–and one of his best traits.

Teresa: Maybe my head was in the gutter, but one girl amongst like forty guys…wouldn’t you be expecting them to procreate? Anyway, she still remains pretty much a mystery. I want to like her, but I don’t know her. Thomas and Teresa share a connection, but whether it’s romantic or not, I don’t know.

Minho: A supporting character and the Keeper of the Maze Runners. He is also my favorite character (maybe it’s because he is Asian? I love supporting minorities.) Unlike Thomas, he is less optimistic, but a strong leader nonetheless.

Newt: Despite the ridiculous nickname, he is a charismatic leader. He is more calmer one in the group. I definitely like him more than Thomas as well.

Griever. by ~DJDragonwolfFan

Griever.
by ~DJDragonwolfF (DeviantArt)

Grievers:
The “monsters” that make the Maze so scary. When they were first introduced I thought they were like gigantic buffalos (since they were ramming windows)…but it turns up they are just six feet long, mechanized, ugly slugs. Actually now that I imagine it, they seem ridiculous. I rather have a buffalo. They can kill, and sometimes sting to give someone flashbacks. I am puzzled with the flashbacks for they seem to be an intentional product of the Grievers. If it was intentional, they wouldn’t be built with those needles in the first place, right? But if the needles were intentional, then why brainwash everyone? But if the flashback needles were un-intentional, why create the needles and stick them in the Grievers?

Ending:
GIVE ME MY ANSWERS! I’m feeling a bit cheated right now (even though I know it’s a strategy to get me to continue the series.) The Maze Runner gives me these half-answers that don’t quite tell me why people would waste so much time and money on such a elaborate maze. Do people have nothing better to do? SPOILER ALERT: So you waste two years conducting this thing when you could just gather them all to work together? Aren’t more brains better than a few traumatized ones? (or worse yet, the murderous ones?)

Overall, I did like the suspense, the world-building. But I am disappointed that my curiosity wasn’t quenched: the answers given just left me with even more questions. I hope I will get some logical answers in the sequel, and all this stuff isn’t just introduced for the heck of it.

Rating: B-

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