Hannah Scribbles

Review: The Maze Runner (2009)

In Books/Authors on March 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm

Thomas awakes alone, frightened and clueless in a dark elevator.  When it reaches its summit, he is hauled out of darkness and finds himself in a large courtyard at the center of a maze along with 40 other boys.

None of the boys know how or why they entered the Maze.  They receive regular shipments from the dark elevator and live on a regimented schedule.  In the Maze, the world runs like clockwork. Then, the day after Thomas arrives the elevator sends up another person – a girl named Teresa – and the boys realize that everything’s about to change.

the maze runner book, is the maze runner good,

James Dashner’s fast-paced style draws the reader in with the first sentence: He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.

At first glance, the world-building is intriguing because we arrive as innocent as Thomas and learn alongside him.  We are meant to ask his questions, Where are we? Why are we here? What is here?  At first, the questions are fun.

Here’s the problem with maintaining that perspective for an entire novel:  it’s irritating to be clueless. The novel itself provides no back story until almost the final chapter, and we never get an idea of who the Creators are – or how the Maze works.  Without this information, it’s impossible to tell where to invest your emotions.

Obviously, we sympathize with Thomas because he’s the narrator and he’s special somehow.  We largely sympathize with the other boys because they are trapped in a giant Maze under constant threat of attack.   But we have no reason to care about the world beyond the Maze because we don’t experience it until the end of the book.  The suspense falls flat.

The Maze Runner leaves other questions unanswered, too.  I mean, what is Teresa’s purpose if not to do a task Thomas himself could have done a day previously? At another point in the novel Thomas struggles with returning memories that tell him he helped design the Maze.  His guilt is shrugged off because “it doesn’t matter.”  It might not matter as a moral point to the boys in the Maze, but it matters from a conflict-resolution point of view.  The action conflict in The Maze Runner is engaging, but the resolution is loosely written or ignored altogether.

I felt misled by the title.  The Maze Runner evokes mythic imagery of Theseus venturing into the labyrinth.  The reality is less impressive and misleading.  It implies that, like Theseus, Thomas will solve the Maze, but while his job as a Maze Runner influences his relationships, it has little bearing on the plot.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Should I buy it?  I’ll send you my copy for free if you pay shipping

Favorite Character: Newt

Favorite Quote:  “But there was something about the largest object in the solar system vanishing that tended to disrupt normal schedules.”

Cool News:  The Maze Runner is being adapted into a movie starring Dylan O’Brien, who plays Stiles Stilinski in the MTV show Teen Wolf.  O’Brien is a talented actor, and if the ensemble cast comes together with the same cooperative attitude as Dashner evoked in the book, it’s going to be quality.  The movie is expected to release Aug. 13, 2014.

the maze runner movie, Gladers in the maze runner

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