Author: James Dashner
Pages: 374 (Paperback)
Reason for Reading: Personal Interest
Synopsis: If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.
Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Everything is going to change.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
The premise of this book caught my attention from the very beginning. The main character, Thomas, has no idea where he is or what has happened, which means neither do we. This makes The Maze Runner a bit different from the usual dystopian because usually the characters have an understanding of how their world works and are able to explain to us; Thomas is able to offer readers no such information, and neither are any of the other boys in the Glade for that matter. The book creates a good mix of interest and confusion that got me hooked very early on. I wanted to know what the purpose of the Glade and the Maze was as much as the boys who were trapped in it and I read for hours at a time hoping to find out.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the racial diversity of the characters in the book. Alby, the leader of the Glade, is described has having very dark skin. The Keeper (leader) of the Runners was a boy named Minho who I am assuming is Korean. Of the four most prominent characters (I'm not including Chuck because he does not become extraordinarily important to the plot itself until quite late in the book, sorry Chuck) two of them are explicitly non-white. In comparison to most YA literature, that is pretty awesome.
The thing holding me back from saying I really loved this book is the writing. While the story itself is unique and full of suspense, I really struggled to lose myself in the book because the writing kept pulling me out. Dashner took an all tell no show approach which I found both frustrating and rather repetitive. It felt like he did not trust me to understand what was happening or how the characters were feeling; everything is spelled out. There was more than once that I groaned out loud. For example:
"Thomas was completely shocked to realize his eyes had filled with tears."
I will say that the closer I got to the end the less the writing distracted me. Whether that is because the writing improved or because the suspense started to out weigh it I couldn't say.
I'm not sure how I feel about where the story is going moving into the next book of the series. The explanation of the world beyond the Glade was certainly not what I had expected. I'm pending judgement until I read the next book. In the mean time, I would definitely recommend picking up The Maze Runner and exploring the world of the Glade for yourself.