Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Maze Runner - James Dashner

Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2009 (Hardcover)
Length: 374 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Dystopian Fiction
Started: March 12, 2010
Finished: March 16, 2010

From the book's website:
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 surrounded 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 have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But 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.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

I love, love, love this book. It's similar to The Hunger Games but with different elements that still make it an incredible read. It instantly reminded me of Lord of the Flies, except without the whole "without order people turn into animals" bit, cause there's an awful lot of order in the Glade. Thomas wakes up in a giant elevator knowing only his name, when the elevator opens in the Glade, he's surrounded by a large group of teenage boys that slowly tell him of life surrounded by the Maze. All the boys can figure out is that they were put in the Maze to find their way out. Only problem is the Maze walls are a hundred feet high, they rotate and change during the night, and the Grievers come out at night...if you're stung by a Griever, you're never the same. After Thomas learns about how the boys' society works in the Glade, he decides he wants to be a Runner, the select few boys chosen to run through the Maze and map it's sections every day, looking for the exit. Then there's the problem of if they ever find the exit, do they want to return to the word that put them there?

The Maze Runner is a thriller, and an action-packed one at that. It's the first book of a series and it succeeds in a similar fashion to The Hunger Games where the main focus of the book is one thing while there's another even bigger problem looming in the background. The Maze Runner deals with a dystopian world where these boys are thrust into this environment but none of them know why or how to get out. It's easy enough to guess, and things are quickly revealed at the end of the novel, where things quickly progress to the main issue at hand, which presumably will occupy the second-and possibly third?-book. The Maze Runner is also different in that 99% of the characters are male, which no doubt will appeal to a lot of boys. Not that boys wouldn't like The Hunger Games simply because the main character is female, I've encountered lots of boys that do, just that there are some boys that simply cannot identify with a book if the main character is a girl. The Hunger Games also spends equal time explaining relationships between characters as well as on plot and action, whereas The Maze Runner is mostly plot and action. I know I keep comparing it to The Hunger Games, but I dare you to read both books and try really hard not to compare them.

I liked Thomas a lot, he was a very likable character in that he never got bogged down by circumstances and simply charged into things trying to improve the situation. I liked how the author even made up slang for the characters, though it took some getting used to trying to figure out what each word really meant. The suspense is insane, you as a reader truly don't know any more than the rest of the characters do, and you end up reading purely to find out what the heck's going on. I love how the novel ended, knowing it's supposed to continue and knowing more of where it's headed. Will definitely by buying this as well as the rest of the series (second book is due out in October 2010).

An excellent example of dystopian fiction. If you liked The Hunger Games, you gotta read this. Even if you haven't read The Hunger Games, read this!

Thoughts on the cover:
I like it, the cover art really gives you an idea of what the Maze looks like and what the boys are dealing with. You can see how the walls around the Glade can close at night (giant spikes into giant holes), and just how big they really are.

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