Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

22 Nov

Series: Maze Runner, Book #1

Published: October 6th 2009 by Random House

Details: Hardcover, 374 pages

My Rating: 3.5/5

My Summary:

Set in dystopian future. Thomas wakes up in a lift that takes him up to an expanse populated with dozens of other kids, surrounded by a maze. Together they have to find a way out before they’re killed. Not as amazing as the similar Hunger Games. Action-packed and with an intriguing premise, yet I felt slightly disappointed at the end. Sequel Scorch Trials out now.

A few chapters in:

As you know, I loved The Hunger Games. Which is why lately I have been looking for, not only the next Twilight, but also the next Hunger Games, meaning a mind-blowing dystopian young adult fiction.

Not surprisingly, The Maze Runner comes to mind. Ever since it was published a year ago, it has drawn comparisons to The Hunger Games. And so, I had to see for myself, is it as mind-blowing? Is that even possible? Time to find out!

I’m now a few chapters in. Thomas, our protagonist, wakes up in a lift. He has no recollections of his former life, in fact, all he remembers is his first name. When the doors of the lift open he finds himself in “The Glade”, a huge expanse surrounded by massive stone walls, and met with a dozens of other boys, ranging from 12 to 17 years old.  He soon learns that all the boys have arrived through that lift, with their memories wiped clean, just like Thomas.

And things just keep getting weirder. During the day, there are four exits left open in the stone walls surrounding The Glade, inviting the boys to explore the maze outside. Yes, a giant maze surrounds the place! Every night the exits close, whether to protect the boys from horrors outside or to prevent them from escaping, I don’t know.

After only a few chapters, my mind (along with Thomas’s) is already swarming with questions. Let’s just say I’m intrigued!

After finishing the book:

Ok, I have finished the book. What did I think?

Well, I know that I loved the beginning with the intriguing mystery of a maze with moving walls. Yet, it wasn’t as great as I expected it to be. Still an enjoyable read, and I kept reading because I wanted answers to all my questions. But it never truly gripped me and I’ll get to why in a moment.

Like I said, the start of the book was as intriguing as it gets. We have Thomas finding himself in “The Glade”, with a dozens of other boys. All their memories have been wiped clean, and no one knows anything about who put them there and why. All they know is that “The Creators” are providing everything they need to get by, and that a gigantic maze surrounds the place. It’s assumed that the only way out is to find a way out of the maze. The only problem is that the walls of the maze move, and that the grievers (some sort of horrible monsters) come out at night, restricting their exploration of the maze to daytime only.

Quite early on we realize along with Thomas that somehow he is special. Despite his memory loss, he senses a strange familiarity to the surroundings, especially the maze. What is also weird is that as soon as he arrives, things start changing.  Previous to his arrival, the boys have been having more or less the exact same routines for nearly two years. Not surprisingly, the sudden rupture of these routines scares the boys, causing some of them to cast suspicious looks at Thomas.

A few of the boys however are on Thomas’s side right from the start, in particularly Minho, Newt and Chuck who all came across as really nice guys, each in their own way. There is also one girl involved, who arrives soon after Thomas, but spends most of the time in coma.

All of this, which I just described, really intrigued me. I wanted to know how the boys were going to solve the maze, which role Thomas played in the whole thing, who the girl was, and generally why the boys had been thrown in there in the first place!

However, while we do get answers to some of these questions, I couldn’t help but feel disapointed at the outcome.

—  SPOILERS!!  —

Firstly, their escape was not how I expected it to be. I mean, they figured out the solution thanks to Thomas recuperating some of his memories. But if he hadn’t remembered what to do, they would never have gotten out. Hence, the smart logical solution I was expecting, something that would make me go WOW, I never thought about that!! – turned out to be no solution at all.  Given the intriguing mystery of the premise, I was expecting some clever solution. So even though it was exciting to see them fight their way out, it was also bit of a let down, if you get my drift.

—  END OF SPOILERS  —

What I also found somewhat disappointing was the lack of depth in some of the characters. I did care to some extent for the supporting characters Chuck, Newt and Minho, but I felt oddly detached from Thomas. Not that he bothered me but I felt indifferent to what happened to him, which I’m pretty sure was not the intention of the writer. When the girl woke up from the coma, I had a hard time caring for her too, and I didn’t feel the connection the two main characters supposedly had. Possibly, because we are only told that they used to know each other but never shown any background story. (Which makes sense given their memory loss). This may grow into something more solid in the sequel. I hope so.

The Bottom Line:

Disappointments set aside, I did burn through the book in a matter of days, eager to find the answers to all my questions (some of which are still left unanswered). It’s a good book, a page turner and the start of an intriguing albeit slightly depressing series. If you like dystopian fiction I recommend you to put it on you TBR-list. But it wasn’t the type of amazing book that have you gasping out loud. For that, you need characters that you truly care about.

The sequel is called Scorch Trials, which I will most likely read in the near future. After all, too many question marks are left hanging and I remain curious to what will happen next!

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4 Responses to “Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner”

  1. Vidya November 11, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    I was reading following an amazon post about what to read after twilight and came across ur website. Am going through it … and am happy to come across so many reviews …. but …. why dont you have an RSS feed ? I wanted to get an update as and when you update the blog !

    • tess November 11, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

      Hey, thanks for bringing that to my attention! I’m new in the blogging world, and probably a bit slow, since I hadn’t noticed those RSS feeds. Now I’m seeing them everywhere 🙂 Glad to hear you want updates. I have a RSS feed now up and running, so feel free to subscribe. Have a great day!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Divergent by Veronica Roth « After Twilight… - May 31, 2011

    […] You see, I don’t want to get my hopes up too much, because I know by now from experience that a hyped book doesn’t always equal amazing (see my review of The Maze Runner). […]

  2. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner « After Twilight… - July 7, 2011

    […] The Maze Runner told the story of a couple of teen boys who find themselves in the center of a giant maze, with no recollection of their pasts. I didn’t outright love the book, but I thought it was intriguing enough to want to read the sequel. The ending in particular had me hooked as it promised revelations about the reasoning behind the maze, and more on the dystopian world outside. […]

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