I love a good post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi novel and The Maze Runner by James Dashner is probably one of the best young adult books of this genre that I have read in a while. We follow Thomas as he is thrown into the world of the Glade, a large square of land surrounded on all sides by a towering and seemingly unsolvable maze. Arriving in this world from a metal box in the ground, disoriented and remembering nothing but his first name and surrounded by Fifty to Sixty other boys who, at one time or another, have all been in his situation. Having made a home in this prison-like structure the boys have a system for everything, from who sleeps where to council meetings, which is taken seriously, almost too seriously with the punishment for breaking the rules ranging from a mock jail to banishment.
The audience is as clueless as he is, learning of this world as he does, in fractured pieces of information. You become angry and frustrated with Thomas, when his questions go unanswered. This theme is continued throughout the novel and I found it to be, though frustrating, very engaging. I had to find out the answers to those questions.
The story progresses the same way the boys live, day to day, however it doesn’t drag and every moment, every sprint through the maze and run in with a Griever (a fleshy, machine mutation that comes out at night in the maze) has a purpose. I found the majority of the imagery to be incredibly dense, like the description of the compound itself. However some aspects are a little more difficult to wrap your mind around, for instance the description of the Grievers which are described as a “creature the size of a cow but with no distinct shape” that has “silver spikes and glistening flesh” its appendages an assortment of metal weapons, rotating blades and other such machinery. It does however make for a nice ‘villain’ that we interact with, as the ‘creators’ are shrouded in mystery, not even the boys know who they are, only that they are there, watching them.
The Language used is reminiscent of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, shattering the regular sentence and replacing words with those such as “klunk”, “shank” and “greenie” which adds to the disorientation we originally feel.
The development of the few main characters is beautifully done, except I feel, in the case of the only female character, Teresa. To me, her presence felt a little pointless, considering she doesn’t emerge for a coma until page 231. While she does signal the ‘end’ I still felt like she was only introduced to be a potential romantic interest for Thomas for the sake of having a romantic interest. While there is a certain mystery surrounding her that I found intriguing, at times I felt the novel would be better without her. I am however holding on to the hope that there will be an overarching story line that will bring everything together and for there actually be a purpose for her in the other two books of the trilogy apart from a kind of unnecessary telepathic connection to Thomas.
I couldn’t put this book down. In fact I didn’t, I read it until I finished it and at times I caught myself smiling ridiculously wide and having outright bursts of laughter at the sarcastic wit throughout. I was incredibly pleased and shocked by the lovely build to the climax and the climax itself. The Maze Runner Is overall a brilliantly written novel that you won’t regret reading.
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