Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication date: 2009
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade — a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.
Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up — the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.
Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner is hands down one of the best and most thrilling books (and series) I’ve ever read. Filled with action, increasing tension and an amazing world building I was so immersed in Dashner’s universe that I could have just as well been part of it.
Dashner’s style and particularly his inclination for face-paced action and impossible cliffhangers at the end of almost every chapter truly made this book an undisputed page-turner.
The story revolves around Thomas – a young, clever teenage boy who wakes up alone in a dark elevator with no memories save his name. The elevator takes him up to a place called ‘The Glade’ where he discovers other boys just like him who had been living there for a while. The Glade is a place of wonders – big, with a lot of greenery, trees and even animals which they tend to and, oh yes, surrounded by metal walls that open at sunrise
and close at dawn.
And beyond the metal walls lies The Maze – an endless labyrinth of corridors and dead-ends which turns into a deadly trap haunted by monsters called ‘Grievers’. Nobody had survived the night in the Maze after the doors had been closed and nobody had ever found their bodies after.
“Just follow me and run like your life depends on it. Because it does.”
In The Glade everybody has a role to play to maintain the life and balance between all the residents. The most interesting and important role is that of the Maze Runners – the fastest, smartest and strongest among the boys. Every day they run the Maze in hope to map it and find a way out, a plan that seems impossible. But Thomas’ dark past is about to change that.
The fragile dynamics of his new surroundings crumble around him and the others when the elevator brings a new member (usually it brings a boy up once a month along with supplies). However, the new member comes in a day after Thomas and to their utmost surprise – they find a girl lying unconscious on the elevator’s floor, an ominous message in her hand.
The girl’s arrival changes everything and I mean this literally. The sun sets and it does not come back up. The metal walls remain open during the night taking away their only protection against the Grievers.
I don’t plan to go into details as I believe that everybody should experience this book themselves and I also I hate spoilers. I do, however, want to say a few more words about Thomas and some of the other characters.
Thomas is curious, brave and eager to see first-hand what is beyond the walls and why he was sent to the Glade and by whom. He is the dream protagonist – having his memories wiped and being so eager to know it all, this gives every reader the perfect opportunity to learn all the new mechanics of Dashner’s world while still maintaining the high level of tension and the fast pace of the story(sorry, can’t help but view the book from writer’s point of view too).
Dashner managed to create a handful of other characters like Newt, Alby, Minho and even the despicable brute Gally who all clearly stand out in the crowd even despite the fact that they are all so similar (circumstances, role to play, gender, etc). And he even managed to get a great deal of good humor amid the action:
“Shouldn’t someone give a pep talk or something?’ Minho asked.
“Go ahead,” Newt replied.
Minho nodded and faced the crowd. ‘Be careful,’ he said dryly. ‘Don’t die.’
Thomas would have laughed if he could, but he was too scared for it to come out.
‘Great. We’re all bloody inspired,’ Newt answered.”
The Maze Runner is truly a perfect balance between original, exciting plot and outstanding characters that like to get into trouble and are skilled/lucky enough to get out of it. Well, sometimes.
Still, that is not my favorite thing about the book. What I loved are the questions. The whole content of the book is shrouded in mystery and conspiracies. From the first sentence till the very last my head was exploding with questions about this and that which is a clear indication on how engaging the story was.
Dashner also does this thing where he gradually answers questions we can’t wait to uncover then raises ten more with the answers he gives us. Few authors are able to do this and I am always impressed with the ability to sustain such level of suspense and mystery while keeping the reader interested.
For this reason exactly and for the engaging plot I would gladly give it score 5/5.
What about you? What rating would you give? What are your thoughts and takes on The Maze Runner?