07 April, 2014

Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner


GoodReads Summary:

"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.

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.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.


Series: The Maze Runner #1
Release Date: 6 October, 2009
Publisher:  Delacorte Press
Purchase: Amazon
ISBN: 0385737947
Edition: Kindle
Review Written: 7 April, 2014

Dystopian stories are very popular and the genre is definitely on the rise. After a rise to fame for books and movies of series such as the Hunger Games and Divergent, it's hardly any surprise that The Maze Runner has also earned its own movie. Scheduled to be released later this year, I decided I should read the book before the movie hit theaters in order to understand the hype. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

The Maze Runner gives the reader a frustrating start, they know as little as Thomas, the latest arrival in the 'Glade' a large central square of a maze. Thomas, frustratingly confused and certain he's seen the Glade before, finds himself immersed into a built up culture of teenage boys who have set up a small ecosystem and a number of daily jobs in things they need. Thomas is determined to get out of the maze, but first he has to become a Runner. Runners are the elite of the boys, the most physical active with the most daring job, and they're the hardest sect to join. 

Barely a day after Thomas joins the Gladers, the name the boys have given themselves, another person arrives in the glade, the first time in collective memory that two new people have shown up one day after the other...and the first time ever that there's been a girl. For the next week, Thomas finds himself caught up in the spotlight of Glade events, much unwillingly. He's constantly being called on for supposed knowledge about the girl (who's fallen into a deep coma the moment that she arrives), and strangely enough, he's one of the first people to survive the night in the Maze without getting eaten, killed, or stung by the Grievers. 

Things escalate rapidly, bringing the Glade's inhabitants the terrifying knowledge that they either have to escape or face extinction at the claws of the Grievers one by one. The biggest question seems to be, how much do they have to lose if they want to live?

Dashner does a fantastic job of keeping the reader in suspense over whether or not the Gladers will survive. With their own language that's cropped up in the Maze's inhabitants a bit off-kilter, the first book in the Maze Runner series is very much a success. Dystopian novelists should take a page from Dashner, with his mini-society within a larger bubble idea that reminds me of the novel Lord of the Flies. The difference being where I despised the Lord of the Flies, Dashner has proven the concept if updated and settled into a bleak future, can work well. 

The novel has left me anxious for the release of the movie, and while there will be some differences, I do hope that the basic flavor of Dashner's novel remains the same and is well executed. I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of the Hunger Games and Divergent series.

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