Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner, pub. 2009, 374 pg.
Rating: 3/5 stars

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. -- From Hardcover Edition

I picked up this book because I saw it on a list of "Things to Read After The Hunger Games."  I was hugely in love with Hunger Games and I was desperate to read anything that might be in the same teens vs. dystopian society vein.

This book didn't really do it for me. It's a really interesting concept - a boy wakes up in the center of a maze with a bunch of other boys and none of them know how they got there or how to get out. They've organized into a more or less civilized society (it reminds me very much of Lord of the Flies, but a little less creepy) and the only thing they really have to worry about is how they're going to escape.

But in execution, this book is slow and kind of boring. The plot took way too long to develop. The first half consists of Thomas being angsty and refusing to accept his circumstances. He complains constantly and doesn't really do much else. We don't get any answers about why the boys are there, why the girl is there, or what is going on.

The second half of the book actually has some intermittent action, but everything else is dull. The build to the ending feels incredibly rushed. On one page there is a ton of action, and on the next the book is ending. The plot climaxes and falls very quickly, and it left me feeling kind of cheated. I feel like the last few chapters could have easily made up the entire second half of the book if the pacing had been slowed down.

This could have been a really neat book if it had been done differently. As is, it isn't terrible, but it definitely didn't inspire me to rush out and read the rest of the series. (Well, a friend who loved this book persuaded me to read the second book in the Maze Runner series, The Scorch Trial, and that one was better but nothing that made me want to read the next two books.)

If you're looking for something to get you through a Hunger Games hangover, I wouldn't reach for The Maze Runner.

Did you suffer from a Hunger Games hangover? What books helped you get through it?

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