Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Maze Runner - James Dashner

The Maze Runner
If you have not already heard of The Maze Runner, it will not take long. The movie comes out tomorrow and, though it hasn't been as widely promoted as I expected, I would be surprised if you make it through the next few weeks without hearing of it at all.

Think of it as the next in line for the Hunger Games and Divergent audience. 

This time, however, instead of a feisty female lead, the main character is a boy named Thomas. Never fear Katniss fans, there is one girl in this opening novel, Teresa. In fact, it's her arrival that kicks everything off.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Thomas finds himself in a strange world with no memory of his previous life. His new home is a large, square farm called the Glade surrounding by four enormous stone walls. Each wall has one door, which closes automatically at nightfall and reopens the next morning. Outside the doors lies a huge maze where the walls move every night.

The maze is inhabited by slimy, deadly monsters the boys call Grievers. No one has ever survived a night in the Maze with them.

All of the inhabitants of the Glade, well, the human ones, are teenage boys. A new one arrives like clockwork once a month from the mysterious elevator in the ground. Thomas is the latest such arrival. Supplies come once a week.

The day after Thomas's arrival, the boys are all shocked when the elevator delivers another new tenant: the first girl ever to arrive. She is unconscious and carries a note which reads, "She's the last one. Ever." Needless to say, pandemonium ensues.
I do not want to give much away beyond those basic premises. After all, this genre thrives on cliffhangers and twists in the plot. I will just say the book kept a quick pace and kept me very engaged. You all know I am a sucker for this genre. Nothing keeps me glued to the page like teenagers trying to conquer a terrifying, dystopian landscape.

I found the ending very satisfying and it leads well into the next book. At first, I was incredibly confused as to how James Dashner planned on doing a sequel. He seemed to set himself up for a Hunger Games type scenario...needing to send the characters back into the maze/arena. Nope. I actually already finished the second book and can confidently say he imagined entirely new horrors for Thomas and crew to face.

I will admit, I am a bit terrified to see this one on screen. The monsters of Dashner's imagination are truly grotesque. I am simultaneously fascinated to see how they translate in the director's imagination and squeamish about putting a visual to the creatures. These days, I avoid nightmares about such things by just choosing to see them as a bit blurry in my mind's eye. I don't give them too many details, and they don't keep me awake at night. Also, I'm an adult and I monsters don't scare me. Yeah, that one.

One small thing that continues to give me quite a laugh is Dashner's name. I mean, really? A guy named Dashner writes a book about a runner? Can it really be his real name? These are things I think about.

I definitely recommend picking this one up, especially if you have enjoyed the other popular dystopian series. The Maze Runner is heir apparent, thanks largely to its upcoming Hollywood moment. I guess we'll have to wait and see if it can step up to the plate.

Pages: 374
Date Completed: March 2, 2014

What dystopian series have you been reading lately? Anything that might stand next in line for the attention of American teenagers?

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