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Monday, October 25, 2010

Though Reminiscent of The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner Offers Its Own Thrills

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Who: Dozens of teenage boys, one a month for the last two years

What: Thrust into the Glade, a walled fortress surrounded by a complicated stone maze with no discernible end

Where: If there's anything beyond the maze, the boys have yet to find it.

When: Memories of the "real" world - time, space, all that - are vague at best.

Why: That's the biggest question of all, isn't it?

When Thomas awakes in the dark of a moving elevator, he knows only one thing: his name. He can't remember his age, his address, his family - nothing. Only the vaguest of memories linger in his mind. And no matter how hard he searches its empty recesses, he can find no explanation for his arrival in this strange new world called the Glade. Dozens of boys already live in the ramshackle community, but nobody knows why they've been brought here. All they know is that every night the impregnable stone walls around the place close by themselves. And the boys are mighty glad to be locked in their fortress. What lies beyond is an impossible stone maze guarded by strange, bloodthirsty monsters. The Glade is hardly heaven, but what awaits outside it is, most certainly, hell.

Despite the fact that his memory's been emptied, Thomas has a disconcerting feeling that he's been in the Glade before. He can't figure it out, he just knows he belongs here somehow. He also knows he can't stay. None of them can, a fact which becomes crystal clear when, for the first time, a girl crawls out of the elevator. The strange event can only signal one thing: things are changing in the Glade. And not for the better. No one knows how to solve the maze, no one knows what - if anything - lies beyond it, no one knows how to defeat the creatures that roam its corridors. Leaving the Glade is suicide, but Thomas has to try. The questions ricocheting inside his brain need answers and he'll stop at nothing to get them.

Reminiscent of The Hunger Games, James Dashner's The Maze Runner introduces a violent new world where teenagers fight for survival every day of their lives. Dashner's characters, of course, know very little about the whys and wherefores that structure their new existence, which is the primary reason this book works so well. It's a modge podge of genres - mystery, adventure, dystopian, sci fi - blending together to create a story that's both intriguing and exciting. If Suzanne Collins had never burst onto the YA scene with her blockbuster trilogy, I would have found Dashner's series a lot more original. As is, the idea feels familiar, but certainly not wrung out. I did want a lot more freshness from this book, especially when it came to character development, dialogue and general wordplay. Still, the plot kept me guessing. And reading. And rooting for our doomed, but going-down-fighting heroes. So while I much prefer Katniss Everdeen to Dashner's ragtag cast, I still enjoyed The Maze Runner. Rumor says Book Two, The Scorch Trials, is even better. I happen to have me a copy. Guess what I'll be doing today?

(Readalikes: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner; The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins; also reminded me a little of the Gone series by Michael Grant)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for violence/intense situations and very vague sexual innuendo. While there are no real American cuss words in the book, the boys have their own lingo, some of which is reminiscent of modern profanity.

To the FTC, with love: I bought The Maze Runner with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Hee hee.


  1. Really? He's LDS? How did I miss that!? Amazing. I did a blog post about this book on my blog (literarysoundtrack)

    Thought you might be interested.

  2. Me Again... you should read Brandon Sanderson... he's good, and LDS :)

  3. I've been back and forth on whether or not to read this one now or to wait... you know, until the series is complete - I'm starting to get "too many series syndrome" while reading lately!

  4. I'm sorry to say I didnt like The Maze Runner. I was the only in my book club that didnt. Too bleak for me.

  5. K & G - I'm interested to hear the differing opinions of it. Can't wait to see what YOU think.

    Cann - Yep, he is :) I've read some Sanderson - the first two Mistborns. I loved them, but for some reason, haven't got around to reading the third. I definitely plan to get to it and his others - and soon!

    T - You should definitely read it at some point. It really doesn't live up to the hype, but it's still an enjoyable story.

    Laura H - Unfortunately, that's kind of the way it is with dystopian - no happy endings. Have you read INCARCERON? It's similar, but with a much more hopeful bent to it.


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