Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner


Title: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Published: 2009

Pages: 374

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction/Fantasy

Format: Book borrowed from the library

My rating: 3/5

Reading Challenge: A book set in the future

Review: “Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade”

Thomas’ memories and past life have been wiped as he is elevated in the Box up into the Glade – the center of life for teenage orphan boys surrounded by an ever-changing maze made of miles of enormous solid rock. All he has is his name, and a strong desire to have the role of Runner – the sources of hope for escaping and returning home, wherever that may be. Unfortunately, if stranded in the maze after the doors close for the night, Gladers risk being killed by the mechanical, spiked Grievers who roam the maze.

The current occupants of the Glade attribute all they fear and experience from the Creators – identities unknown. Every month, the Box brings up a new boy, always without memory and always consistent, that is until Thomas arrives. Boys that have been pricked by the Grievers go through a hallucination of sorts that bring back a few of the memories – all with Thomas at the center. Feeling threatened and distrustful of Thomas, he is considered an enemy until he can prove he was not involved with their current state. Unfortunately, everything changes when the next member of the Gladers is a girl – slowly remembering that the two of them are responsible for the current predicament as well as a warning She is the last one. Ever.

What unfolds the rest of the story is a series of unfortunate events that places larger targets on both Thomas and Teresa’s backs. Suddenly, nothing is consistent and every move and action is questioned, always coming back to if there is a way out of the maze after these past two years in the Glade. What helps explain this strange way of living is the constant message etched in the maze walls as Thomas enters the role of Runner: WORLD IN CATASTROPHE: KILLZONE EXPERIMENT DEPARTMENT. What does it all mean? What is the purpose for the maze? Why were they chosen?

The answer to those questions come with many theories and explanations, but what was written on Teresa’s arm as she came up through the Box may shed some light: WICKED is good.

Although breaking the cardinal rule of reading the book first before seeing the movie, I still felt anxious and full of suspense as I quickly read through, my heart pounding and eyes darting to the next page to get a glance. A fairly easy read, I found some difficulty with some of the language associated with the Glade – made up by the young inhabitants. Original and creative, for sure, but somewhat distracting by over-usage.

Each chapter – page, even – Dashner grasps the reader’s attention with non-stop action, plot twists, and character development. We see Thomas through several stages of development from first waking up, to his curious nature, to anger, and finally his heroic, selfless maturity – all in the span of a couple weeks. The relationships and trust he builds in the face of adversity is commendable, as he not only battles the gruesome Grievers but also the painful memories and several doubtful Gladers. What, if anything, lies beyond the maze? And can they finally find the way out?

Read The Maze Runner if you like the themes of:

  • Young adult apocalyptic
  • Solving a complicated puzzle
  • Brotherhood

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