Maze Runner by James Dashner

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On my last few visits to the bookstore James Dashner’s science fiction book The Maze Runner kept jumping out at me. I even picked it up several times meaning to buy it, and then didn’t. It has also been all over the book blog community, so I finally decided that I would borrow it from the library to see what all the fuss was about. 

Dashner begins the book with his main character, Thomas, waking and disoriented inside a moving metal box. Thomas’ only memory is his name. When the box stops and opens, Thomas climbs into a world of strange faces that belong to boys of varying ages speaking words that are completely foreign ... a world known as the Glade.

I found The Maze Runner an extreme read. Dashner’s setting is well thought out, realistically described, and a frighteningly tense. I felt disorientated entering the Glade. Acclimation was a slow process at first because the Glade has such a different and disturbing setting. Through Thomas’ eyes, I viewed the stone walls that surrounded the Glade and heard the “horrible crunching, grinding sounds” as the doors in the walls closed every evening and opened every morning. I saw the Grievers, mechanical monsters that meant certain death to anyone who encounters them. I watched as runner entered the Maze each day hoping to find an escape from the Glade, and saw them return each night exhausted. I also learned that Thomas’ arrival was expected since every month a new boy arrived just as he did. Moreover, just as I started to feel like I grasped the daily operations and even some of the strange words like “klunk,” “shuck,” and “shank,” the unexpected occurred; a girl arrived and she held a surprisingly ominous message. It was clear that in order for the Glade’s residents to survive, escape through the maze was urgent, and I knew that Thomas would somehow be the answer to the puzzle.

The Maze Runner definitely required me to be an active reader, something I am always encouraging my students to be. As I read, I had flashes of similar setting from books like the City of Ember, and The Giver, and even though I knew that the Glade, and its world beyond, was no utopia I kept making comparisons none-the-less. As various characters were introduced, I begun to understand the way the boys of the Glade survived and interacted, I also saw similarities to characters from The Lord of the Flies.  Thomas’ friend and guide Chuck reminded me of Piggy and Gally reminded me of Ralph. However, these similarities are vague, and I do not want to suggest that The Maze Runner’s plot is in anyway a parallel to The Lord of Flies plot. As Thomas struggles to help find a way to solve the puzzle of the maze, I found myself doing the same, but in the end, Dashner’s conclusion was quite a deviation from any of my predictions.

If you enjoy fast paced mysteries with a science fiction flavor, then The Maze Runner is a feast. The story, characters, and setting will leave you full, but hungry for the book 2 of the trilogy.

Rating: 5 Cherries

5 Delicious Comments:

Doret said...

I keep on hearing really good things about Maze Runner. And I do plan on reading it

If you have a chance you should check out a YA novel called Lockdown by Smith. Another fast past action book set in the future.

I was happily surprised the author allowed the boys to have emotions.

Jenn said...

Okay, now I really want to read this book! Your description sounds like it will be right up my alley. (And my nephew's too.)

melissa @ 1lbr said...

It was a very fabulous read wasn't it? Just sucks you right in!

Sherry said...

I have this one on hold at the library. I've read it compared to Hunger Games?

Jenn (Books At Midnight) said...

Great review! I thought the characters were a bit hard to relate to, but I agree that the plot was intense. And I immediately thought Lord of The Flies too when reading The Maze Runner, probably because of how both books address human nature. Err, the ending was sort of depressing though. XD

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