Monday, March 7, 2011

The Maze Runner

Rating: 3 out of 5 Grievers

Imagine waking up one day in total darkness, unsure of where you are and unable to remember anything about yourself except your first name. You're in a bizarre place devoid of adults called the Glade. The Glade is an enclosed structure with a jail, a graveyard, a slaughterhouse, living quarters, and gardens. And no way out. Outside the Glade is the Maze, and every day some of the kids -- the Runners -- venture into the labyrinth, trying to map the ever-changing pattern of walls in an attempt to find an exit from this hellish place. So far, no one has figured it out. And not all of the Runners return from their daily exertions, victims of the maniacal Grievers, part animal, part mechanical killing machines. Thomas is the newest arrival to the Glade in this Truman-meets-Lord of the Flies tale. A motley crew of half a dozen kids is all he has to guide him in this strange world. As soon as he arrives, unusual things begin to happen, and the others grow suspicious of him. Though the Maze seems somehow familiar to Thomas, he's unable to make sense of the place, despite his extraordinary abilities as a Runner. What is this place, and does Thomas hold the key to finding a way out? (courtesy of

The concept of this book is fascinating. Young boys sent to a Maze they are supposed to solve without any explanation. It is obvious it's a test, but for what? The whole premise is built around how "everything is going to change" when it is hard to see what it is going to change from. I think Dashner could have spent a little more time explaining and building up the "regular life" in the Glade and the Maze. Some of it just felt rushed and glossed over and then seemingly needless details were gushed over.

Let me back up. I seem to do that a lot and get ahead of myself.

I liked this book. There is a lot of potential to it, and I am excited to read more. That being said, I think the execution of it wasn't exactly what it could have been. I've said it before and I will say it again--a good idea deserves great writing. I'm not saying Dashner is a bad writer. It just felt contrived and immature at some points. The little twists and turns at the end of the chapters were built up and dragged out so long when I knew what was coming so I found myself skipping to the last sentence of the chapter. I had a hard time not skimming at points because I felt like there were so many unnecessary details and inserts into dialogue that should have been neatly bared down. Dashner weighs down his dialogue with expository weirdness that doesn't do anything for the flow of the story.

Where he was heavy in exposition he was light on description. I never really felt like I was there in the Glade with these boys. It just felt like I was distanced from it because the descriptions were just so sparse. And the characters are never really described. We never get a full description of what the main character looks like. Some may argue that that allows the reader to imagine what he looks like, and maybe Dashner didn't think it was necessary to describe him. What little character descriptions we do get are sparse and leave something to be desired.

Before I get too carried away with all this, I do recognize that this is teen fiction and the writing in this genre is usually simplified to gear it toward that demographic, but for some reason it grated on me a little.

The relationship between Thomas and Teresa is intriguing, but it feels forced. My favorite character was Minho because he seems to have his head on straight most of the time. That being said, sometimes he'd have random mood swings that just didn't seem to fit with his character and seemed like a convenient way to have Minho out of the picture for awhile.

Overall I like the book. There are just some things that bugged me. And I was annoyed that it took me so long to get through because I should have been not wanting to put it down. Some of the scenes in the book, namely the final battle scene with the Grievers, was fascinating and I could picture most of it being turned into a movie. I gave it 3 out of 5 Grievers because, to me, it was likable but not wonderful. Here is hoping the next installment, Scorch Trials, is a little better.

1 comment:

  1. I can agree with what you said, it does seem rushed, but in the scorched trials you figure out some of why that is, also i totally agree that it was waves of awesome and lag. I really liked this book, but I can totally see your issues with it. I still really like it I do think there could be a little more character development except the characters know nothing about themselves to develop.