Cannonball Read V: The Maze Runner by James Dashner
(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.”
(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)