The Maze Runner – James Dashner

I have a feeling that this review is going to come across more negatively than I intend.  I read this whole book on an 8 hour car ride and was really into most of it.  I enjoyed it and while I did have problems with The Maze Runner, let me just start off by saying that this book is one I can recommend.

The Maze Runner is about Thomas, a young boy, who wakes up one morning surrounded by other young boys (between 12-19) in a very strange place.  He can’t remember anything about his life, except for information about life in general (ex: what pancakes taste like, but not who made him pancakes).  He slowly begins to learn about this mysterious place he has been dropped into, most of it absolutely terrifying.  The most important thing he learns is that there is a maze, and every night the maze changes, and it is the goal of specific boys called runners to figure the maze out.

Unfortunately, since Thomas knows nothing and the boys decide to be mysteriously ambiguous about the maze, it makes for a slow start.  I had a really hard time getting into the book and even asked She who had read it if it was worth continuing.  Fortunately things picked up and the rest of the book kept my interest, but there were just some aspects that could have been fleshed out much better.

Some spoilers to follow.

The arrival of Teresa was when the book finally got exciting, but at the same time, the whole storyline of one girl in a community full of boys completely fell flat.  There could have been a lot of psychology explored here that was totally left behind in favor of action.  But it was not just the way the plot line about the girl was handled, but all the other missed opportunities to explore the psychology instead of action.  At first I was willing to chalk this up to the fact that it is a YA book that is mostly a thriller, not much else.  Then I remembered when Step Su compared The Maze Runner to Ship Breaker on Twitter.  In a lot of ways, they are similar, but while Ship Breaker had an unrelenting plot that was almost continuous action, it still took time to explore what exactly the main character was feeling.  Most of the time, in The Maze Runner, I just didn’t get that same connection with Thomas, Teresa or the other characters.

My other biggest concern is with the writing.  Take the following passages:

Why do I remember these animals? Thomas wondered. NOthing about them seemed new or interesting – he knew what they were called, what they normally ate, but not where he’d seen animals before, or with whom?  His memory loss was baffling in its complexity. (44)

He returned his gaze to the Deadheads, a glowing disk still floating in his vision.  Blinking to clear it away, he suddenly caught the red lights again, flickering and skittering about deep in the darkness of the woods.  What are those things? he wondered, irritated that Alby hadn’t answered him earlier.  The secrecy was very annoying.  (45)

Well yes, you just spent the last two sentences explaining how baffling it is, no need to explain.  And I too am annoyed by the secrecy, so please, don’t tell me about it.  Either Dashner got better about this or I was too absorbed in the plot to notice it later in the book.

But eventually, the plot won out for me.  I can still give this one a favorable review because I have read a lot of YA dystopian/futuristic society novels and this one still stood out for me.  No, it’s not the best and it has some serious flaws, but I still enjoyed reading it and I will be picking up The Scorch Trials when it finally arrives.

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR pile

Other reviews: Books And Movies, Devourer of Books, My Friend Amy,  Rhapsody in Books, Reverie Book Reviews, Presenting Lenore, Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Steph Su Reads, Fantasy Book Critics, Books By Their Cover, A Book Blog. Period., S. Krishna’s Books,  GalleySmith, Medieval Bookworm, Hey Lady!.

9 thoughts on “The Maze Runner – James Dashner

    • Rhapsody: See, I could have stopped reading, really. There were maybe two or three points in the book when I had to find out what happened, but the rest of the time I could have put the book down.

  1. I remember reading Rhapsody’s review of this one a while back and thought it sounded intriguing. I don’t think is one I’ll read on my own, but I think it could be a good candidate for a future couple read for me and Tony now that we have to wait a gazillion years for a free copy of Mockingjay at the library!

  2. I think you presented a balanced review. I still love some books even if my picky self tends to critique a bit too closely – it doesn’t always mean that the ride wasn’t fun.

  3. I am glad you ended up enjoying it though. I need to get on getting Ship Breaker. I bet there’s a line of 913497923 at the library… or maybe not. Ugh, this person keeps driving by my house. If they don’t stop, I am going to pull a Jaws and blow them out of the water. or asphalt as it were.

  4. Pingback: 2010, what a wonderful year!* | Regular Rumination

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