Friday, October 17, 2014

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Reviewed by  Meygan

From my own reading experience, I would say that there are two types of “good” books. The first category consists of books that you take your time reading because you want the story to last forever. Then there’s the second category. This category is comprised of books that you read within 24 hours, taking the risk of falling asleep at work or school the next day because your love for the book has become almost an addiction and you can’t function without knowing what happen next. This, my friends, is the category where the YA novel The Maze Runner by James Dashner belongs. I was hooked within the first two chapters. By the time I reached the half point of the book, I realized that World War III could have happened outside and it still wouldn’t have pulled my attention away from The Maze Runner

As the book opens, a young man named Thomas wakes up alone in a crate. He is startled, to say the least.  He also realizes that his memory has been erased. He is lifted up through a concrete-looking tunnel, only to be greeted by the sun and a group of guys he does not know peeking down at him. The guys poke fun at Thomas, calling him “Greenie” (a term for the “new guy on the block”), but they do at least help him out of the crate. When lifted out of the crate, Thomas notices something is peculiar about the forest setting he stands in—the entire area is surrounded by stone-like walls. When he questions what the walls are for, one of the guys inform Thomas that the walls are a maze which open and close. They go on to explain that during the day, the walls to the maze open, allowing enough time for the “runners” (a group of the fastest runners that are voted in by the others) to try and find a way to escape the maze. Thomas is full of question: why are they in the maze? Who put them there? How can they escape? 

Unfortunately, no one has the answers to those questions However, Thomas is warned to never walk outside of the maze’s walls. Only the runners are allowed to leave during the day, and if they aren’t back by a night then the walls will close, leaving them to face the “grievers” (a semi-mechanical monster) that lurk the walls of the maze. Thomas is told that no one has ever stayed a night outside of the maze and survived. 

Do the anyone survive the maze? If so, how? If not, who will pick up the pieces and try to find a way out of the maze? Also, even though everyone’s memory has been erased, some of the guys do have recollections of their past. One boy in particular recalls that his life before the maze isn’t something he wishes to return to, leaving him to wonder if he should leave with the others or stay in the maze. There is a catch to remaining in the maze though—eventually the grievers will pick the boys off one by one if they stay. Do any of the guys choose to remain in the maze and take their chances with the grievers? Or will they fight the grievers and escape? Is escape even possible? Who has put them there and why? All these questions should keep you turning pages. 

I cannot finish a book if I don’t like or can’t relate to any of the characters. I’m sure I have passed on great reading opportunities because I just couldn’t set aside my hatred for the characters. Luckily I did not have this experience while reading The Maze Runner. Thomas, the main character, is very likeable and there were parts where I literally cheered for him. For example, Thomas forgets the rule of not leaving the maze when two of the guys are on the outside of the maze—one limping from an injury and the other trying to carry his partner. The boys know they will never get through the walls in time, but the one guy refuses to leave his injured friend’s side.  Thomas, despite the boys’ pleading, begins to run, barely making it through the maze in time. (This is the part where I cheered out loud while sitting, thankfully alone, in the staff lounge, shouting cries of, “Yes!”, “Hurry! Run!” and other words that I do not wish to mention.) Although Thomas isn’t the “leader” per se, I would have to say that he certainly becomes the leader when the others give up. 

What I enjoyed the most about this book was the characters. The setting was cool, too. I couldn’t help but to think of The Maze Runner as being a modern version of The Lord of the Flies. If I had three thumbs, I would give The Maze Runner three thumbs up. I hope to finish the complete series in the near future. Maybe then all my questions will be answered as well!

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