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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mazes, Mysteries, and Monsters: A Review of The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Fiction for Readers

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 thirty 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.

Who is it for?

The Maze Runner is a post-apocalyptic, dystopian, young adult novel that's fast-paced and packed full of mystery. If you liked The Hunger Games, this novel may be for you. Although the plot is entirely different, The Maze Runner has the same appeal, with softer content. So if you couldn't handle Katniss because of the dark, violent, gory material, The Maze Runner may be a better fit for you.  

If you want a book you can't put down, one full of danger, suspense, and mystery, look no further.


Once I started reading this book, I couldn't stop. In fact, I was so hooked into the story that I got the audiobook so that I could keep "reading" even when I had to do the dishes. At that point, my friend, who hates reading, even got hooked. 

The setting and plot are what make this book. The characters are surrounded by a maze that they have tried unsuccessfully to solve for over two years! Everyday they send runners out to search the maze for an exit, and every night they (hopefully) return before the doors to their home base close at sundown. Monsters, called Grievers, lurk in the maze, killing anyone who doesn't make it back to the Glade before evening. 

I love a story that blends fantasy/sci-fi with mystery. And right from the start, Dashner introduces readers to several mysteries, so that if you aren't trying to solve mystery #1, you're trying to solve mystery #2 or #3, all while worrying about Grievers and murderers and supply shortages and character relationships. There is always something going on, always another hook on the next page, always trouble on the horizon. I should warn you that The Maze Runner will tempt you to procrastinate the real world, but it's worth the unwashed laundry and frozen dinners.

The characters are fun, but a little bit one dimensional. However, one could argue that since they don't have any memories, they don't have many dimensions to explore. It's not that the characters aren't unique individuals, only that we don't delve too deeply into them.

And I have to say, I loved the way Dashner handled dialogue. You can tell when characters are trying to be tough, but are actually scared, and you can sense their unsaid words all through their dialogue.

If You Read it You Should Know

You will have basically no clue what is going on at the beginning, because neither does the main character. I know that some readers have a difficult time digesting stories that start this way; personally, I love them. So, if you feel confused, just keep reading. Stick with it at least several chapters before you give up on it.

James Dashner broke into the writing world as a middle grade writer, so, his writing style has a middle grade feel. Don't let the simplistic pros dissuade you from the story.

The Maze Runner is the first book in a trilogy (which now also has a prequel) and is being made into a movie set to hit theaters in February. You can get away with only reading the first novel but know that you won't have all the mysteries solved by the end of it. You'll have to read the other books to have all your questions answered.

I'm psyched to read the second installment soon. 

You can check out The Maze Runner on Amazon.

Follower Spotlight

C. Michelle Jefferies practically grew up in a library. The oldest daughter of four, she spent hours devouring books with her mother. When she was ten, she realized that she wanted to write stories like the science fiction books she loved to read.

With a love for natural mothering, and a passion for secret agents and all things Asian she writes about bad boys turned good and fantasy of the urban type. All while beating herself up three times a week in Karate class as she works toward her black belt in Tang Soo Do.

You can follow her site, blog, or facebook. Check out her book Emergence.

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