Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Plot Summary: 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.

I love hearing about books on the grapevine. Mostly, it’s because I love hearing about people enjoying books (because I love them, too). But it also means that I’m hearing about more books that I get to read. And what could be better than that? :) Sure, some of the books aren’t my cup of tea, but some of them are truly enjoyable, that I wouldn’t have known about if it hadn’t been for the grapevine.

THE MAZE RUNNER is one of those books. I saw it pop up before it was released, and I even had the opportunity to read an ARC. But when I read the summary, it didn’t pique my interest, so I passed. Fast forward to present day... This book is popping up all over the place, and people are really enjoying it. So I checked out a copy from my library to see what the buzz was all about.

This is a fun book. There is lots of action and adventure, savage monsters, a puzzling mystery, and it’s filled with great entertainment. The pacing is quick, the maze absolutely pulls the reader in, and Dashner is excellent at giving the reader just enough information to satisfy some curiosity, but also to keep us reading.

Some of the characters could have had a bit more depth to them, such as Gally and Teresa. Gally was too one-dimensional-evil, and Teresa didn’t feel complete. And I never got a full picture of Alby, either. But other characters, like Chuck and Minho, were fully fleshed out. I felt like I knew them well.

I would have liked clearer descriptions, too. I couldn’t quite see what the Grievers (monsters in the maze) looked like. I could hear them, but not see them. And the maze itself wasn’t clear. The book’s cover did a good job of filling in those blanks, but I would have preferred to get the image from the text.

The beginning is a bit too slow, and parts of it felt contrived as Thomas keeps asking questions and the others refuse to answer. There was no established motivation for them to not provide answers, so that was disappointing. I also had difficulty with everyone being so down on Thomas, making him the cause of everything going wrong, when it’s obvious they should have been directing that frustration and animosity at Teresa.

And, I’m torn about the twist at the end. I saw it coming, and I haven’t decided whether or not I like it. I think I don’t have enough information to decide, and I’m guessing that information is coming in future books. But I did feel like the book had a satisfying conclusion, and wrapped up the conflict of this book. The conflict of the next book was hinted at, and is intriguing. So I’ll definitely read it.

Overall, even with these shortcomings, this was still a fun and entertaining book to read. I can see teen boys devouring these pages and asking for more. Definitely recommended.

12 comments:

Bish Denham said...

I'll have to see if my library has it. There are many books I'd like to read that they don't have because it's a small library with a limited budget. Doing inter-library loan can get expensive....

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I've just finished this book. It's one of my favorites so far this year! You've said it well - how the pacing and suspense was great. I agree that I'm unsure if I liked the ending. But the whole book was so entertaining, I'll be eagerly awaiting the scorch trials.

Lenore said...

It was fun, and I agree with your reservations. What kept it from being on, say, The Hunger Games, level though was it's lack of emotional depth. As I said in my own review, if a character dies and I'm just meh...that's not good.

Marcia said...

I just started reading this. It's my second attempt; the slow beginning put me off at first. I do think I'm going to like it.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

This is my #1 favorite book of 2009. I love it and can't wait for the sequel. :-)

Bethany Mattingly said...

I've been waiting to read this one because of how many good reviews it has recieved. I can't wait until I get the chance. Thanks for the review!

beth said...

/shields eyes

HOLY COW. You are always one step ahead of me! I have this one on my bedside table RIGHT NOW but am only on Chapter 2. Eep! I better pick up the pace!

Tabitha said...

Sorry I didn't respond yesterday. I got sucked into police reports and insurance phone calls because of a fender bender caused by a self-absorbed, impatient girl in her twenties. Anyway...

Bish - this book has become very popular, so I hope your library has it. And I can imagine inter-library loan would be very expensive where you live!

Terry - same here. The book was very entertaining, and I'm looking forward to the sequel. :)

Lenore - I completely agree. The lack of connection to the characters really reduced the emotional depth. If the characters had been more rounded, then this would have been on par with Hunger Games.

Tabitha said...

Marcia - the slow beginning put me off at first, too. I didn't think I was going to like it, but then it picked up and I ended up enjoying it. It's not my favorite book of the year, but still enjoyable.

Shannon - I'm looking forward to the sequel, too. And if I have the opportunity to read an ARC, I won't turn it down again! :)

Bethany - if you get the chance, definitely read it. It's fun and entertaining. It's not knock-you-over-wow, but it's a great adventure story to curl up with.

Beth - LOL! One of these days we'll be reading the same book at the same time. :)

PJ Hoover said...

Ditto what Lenore said. I found also the frustration level was high for me when no one would tell him what was going on.

Hope all is going great!

MG Higgins said...

I just finished Maze Runner a week ago and I completely agree with your assessment. Exciting, well-paced, some good characterizations, and also frustrating for the reasons you mention. On the whole, a fun read. And I will read the follow-up.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I enjoyed it too though agree that it didn't always make sense that no one explained anything. Something to think about in our own writing too.