Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

If you have heard anything about The Maze Runner, then you’ve probably heard people say that those who liked The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins will probably enjoy this book. After reading it, I have to agree, or agree that those who liked The Hunger Games will AT LEAST find The Maze Runner interesting. Though their plotlines are completely different, they have a similar dystopian feel and a necessity for the kids in the books to survive and escape the situation they’ve been thrown into. However, it’s hard to compare the two beyond that.

The book begins with Thomas waking up in a metal lift, also known as “The Box.” He has no memory of who he is (aside from his name), where he came from, or how he got there. When the doors of the lift open, he is greeted by a bunch of boys who, like him, don’t remember anything about their life before arriving at the Glade, an expanse of land surrounded by metal walls which close every night just before it gets dark. He quickly learns that the Glade rests in the center of a gigantic, continuously changing maze, patrolled at night by vicious cyborg-like slug creatures called Grievers. And…there is no way out.

Days after he arrives The Box makes another delivery, this time delivering the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. She delivers a spooky message—the end is near—before passing out into a fitful coma. Now Thomas must decipher the reason why he thinks he knows this girl (named Teresa), and if there is a way out of the Maze before things completely fall apart.

As I said before, fans of THG will find the plot of The Maze Runner interesting enough. However, just about every answer to every question you can think of is withheld until the end, and even then there's a ton of questions remaining. I’m guessing that Dashner decided to do this in order to build suspense, which is accomplished, even though it was irritating in some places. Despite this, I found it forgivable because there was enough going on at the moment of the scene to excuse the questions, which is why overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. Dashner is very good at moving his plot along quickly, and filling it with action. At one point Thomas runs out into the Maze at night to save some of his fellow Gladers, and ends up facing the grievers in what I think is one of the coolest survival scenes to recently hit the shelves. There is quite a bit of jargon/invented slang that the boys in this book use, which takes a little while to get used to, but I don’t believe it hurt the story at all. It’s not difficult to figure out that words like, “Shuck-head,” and “Klunker” are curse words, and by giving his characters their own unique slang Dashner has made them more realistic. We all make up our own inside jokes and insults when we’re young, right? Especially as teenagers. I’m assuming that some of the mysteries about the Maze will be answered in book 2, The Scorch Trials (set to be released on October 12, 2010), as the focus of this first installment was really just about escaping.

Final Rating: 6/8 tentacles