Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Maze Runner - James Dashner

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Indiebound Summary:
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.

I actually got this book a long time ago and I finally got around to reading it when I got the sequel from the librarian that runs my book group. Honestly, this book wasn't too high on my to-read list partly because the main character is male and this seemed very much a book marketed for boys. I can't really explain it, but I am just not a big fan of most boy books. I'm a pretty girly person and my reading tastes reflect that. But since I got The Scorch Trials, I figure it was time that I read The Maze Runner.

It starts with a boy in a dark box with no memory. When the box opens, Thomas finds himself surround by a ragtag group of boys. Where was he? Who were they? Why is he here? What happen to his memories? As Thomas finds out more about the Maze, the reader learns along with him since the whole story is from Thomas's perspective and voice. There were moments where I was intensely frustrated with Thomas and his lack of knowledge because I wanted to know why were they in the maze, who put them there, why is there only boys, etc. I almost gave up because the pacing in the beginning moved too slow for me. I wanted more about the world to be revealed, but it's a good thing Dashner did not reveal a lot since the mystery kept me reading.

After the beginning, the story picks up and is filled with well-placed cliffhangers and hooks. While some questions are answered, new questions were being formed. Dashner keeps the mystery going using those hooks, but also moves the story steadily along. Another one of his strength is his writing style - it is incredibly descriptive and Dashner spends a lot of time building this world of the Maze with the changing walls and creepy Grievers. I definitely don't want to bump into one of those in a dark alley anytime. I really enjoy the vivid world he created.

On the other hand, his characters did not have as strong of an impact compared to the setting. The only female character, Teresa, wasn't that fleshed out and felt very flat. She was always needing to be rescued by Thomas, which did not jive with my feminist sensibilities. Thomas didn't stand out either - a very typical boy hero figure to me. A big problem with Thomas is that he seemed too perfect - he comes in with no memory and saves the day. There was no emphasize on Thomas's flaws which would have made him more realistic, more human for me.

Despite some flaws, I did enjoy The Maze Runner. Once I got through the beginning, the plot really moved, the action was fun and the questions grew. The main compelling element throughout the book was the mystery of the maze.

Given that YA lacks boy books, I'm glad this book is out there for me to recommend to the boys. The mystery and the action will definitely draw boy readers. And since it ended with more questions than answers, I'm off to read the sequel to satiate my curiosity.

Book Source: own copy

Author Website | Indiebound | Goodreads


Martha Flynn said...

Agreed agreed agreed!!!!

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