The Maze Runner by James Dashner
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Cannonball Read V: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

By Melissa | Book Reviews | July 31, 2013 | Comments ()


(We’re talking books on August 7. Well, one book, really. Join us on August 7 for a discussion of Shift by Hugh Howey.—mswas)

“Just follow me and run like your life depends on it. Because it does.”

Thomas doesn’t know who he is. Thomas doesn’t know where he is. All he knows is his name, and that the life he used to know is gone.

I’m back in the Young Adult trough, and have a good one for you today, The Maze Runner. Dystopian future novels seem to be all anyone wants to write about lately, and this is yet another one. However, this one was much better than Gamers, the last book I read.

So Thomas is literally pulled into this new life in a dark cube, and the world is…small. A giant stone wall surrounds the entire compound, though there are doors that open to an ever-changing maze. Forty or so boys make the compound their home, but Lord of the Flies this ain’t. It is run with military precision by a boy named Alby, with his second in command Newt.

The boys in charge use the new guy to exposit a bit about how things work in “The Glade.” Every week, supplies and things come up in the elevator, and once a month, a newbie comes with it. Each day, there is a group of boys that go out to the maze, mapping it out since it changes every day. They stay in the walls, which close at night, due to ‘the grievers,’ a monstrosity that causes any boy it stings to go crazy unless they get a syrum that comes with the weekly supplies. The rest of the boys are assigned different jobs around the glade, from cleaning to animal care, from farming to security.

Thomas takes this all in, and somehow manages not to freak out. He does decide he wants to be a runner, one of the maze mappers, but is shot down almost right away as being too new. Of course, things change pretty massively almost right away, starting with the next supply run, which includes something the boys haven’t seen in quite a long while: a girl. Thomas and the girl have an almost immediate connection, despite the fact that the girl is slightly comatose.

Anyway, Thomas decides the group needs to escape the glade, and starts in earnest trying to solve the puzzle and save his new friends.

This was a pretty good dystopian future book. Thomas was mostly likeable, even if he did get a bit whiney in his lack of memory. He wasn’t immediately liked by all the boys, or liked at all in the case of a couple of them, and it felt real.

The secondary characters were mostly strong as well, with the cook named Frypan sticking out in my mind. Thomas’ antagonist among the boys was relatively menacing, though a bit superfluous with the oozing robot monsters.

The story was strong as well, with a good consistency throughout, and a reveal that didn’t completely destroy the continuity of it. The worldbuilding was great as well, you really feel as though you are in the glade.

This book did struggle a bit in pacing. The first day seemed to last at least a year, while the escape was over and done practically before it started. The romance between Thomas and the girl, Theresa, seemed really shoehorned in as well, like the author was going for a slight Twilight feel, but failed miserably.

All in all, I would recommend this book if you like dystopian sci-fi, or a good escape story.

I give it 4 out of 5 greenbeans.

“I just…feel like I need to save everyone. To redeem myself.”

This review is part of the volunteer Cannonball Read V. Read all about it , and find more of Melissa’s reviews on the group blog.

(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Irina

    Read the trilogy, and the first book was the best by far (call it The Hunger Games Phenomenon, or The Everything Has To Be A Trilogy These Days Syndrome).
    I liked the maze, the terror the creatures inspire, the atmosphere James Dashner created. Unfortunately, once the storyline moved away from the maze in the two other books, everything really went to hell.

  • chanohack

    The Maze Runner is okay but its sequels are bananas. I read the second one but didn't give enough shits about Thomas and Theresa to read more than a page of the third.

  • splinter

    read this one a while ago and it really didn't work for me. i found the protagonist to be quite irritating. though the ending made me curious about where the series was going, it wasn't enough and i stopped here.

  • BWeaves

    "Of course, things change pretty massively almost right away, starting with the next supply run, which includes something the boys haven’t seen in quite a long while: a girl. Thomas and the girl have an almost immediate connection, despite the fact that the girl is slightly comatose."

    NOOOOOOOOO! I'm not reading any more. Gang rape, gang rape, gang rape.

  • Melissa

    No gang rape, I promise :)

  • jennp421

    Actually, no gang rape in this one, it's ok to keep reading.

  • jennp421

    Nice review. I actually just read this one and still have to write my review on it. It didn't quite work for me because of the pacing issues, although the ending made me curious about the rest of the series. I'm just not sure if a good ending is worth reading more if I didn't really connect to the characters and thought the pacing was off.
    Slightly unrelated, it seems like most of the YA I've read is by women, and tends to feature female protagonists ... I'm not sure if it's the novels I usually read, but I can't think of any where there simply aren't any men. Yet both YA series by guy authors I've read start out in communities that have no women at all (this one, and the Chaos Walking trilogy) - have I just not read the right books, or am I the only one that finds that odd? Obviously, the girl ends up playing a huge role in the Chaos Walking trilogy ...

  • Melissa


    For me, the pacing issues won out over the world-building in my decision to continue further in the series, so I haven't.

    I have heard that is going to be a movie in 2014, but I'm not hopeful it will translate well, tbh.

    As for your second point...I can't think of any off the top of my head, either. That is very...odd.

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