I first heard about this book at an SCWBWI conference where its editor from Delacorte spoke highly of how it grabbed her attention right away.
I have to agree. The one thing that Dashner does right from start to finish is barely provide enough information to answer the questions that form in the reader's mind BUT what information he gives does promote one to keep reading.
Curiosity drove me to read this book straight through...that and the fact that the writing wasn't all that challenging.
I'm not trying to bag on Dashner, but I was a little surprised at the many passed-on opportunities he had to draw me further into the story or even care more about the characters' fates .
I felt consistently disappointed with what I was offered of Thomas's character -- far too sulky and desirous of screaming at people who can hardly offer him the answers, etc. he's so desperate for. And Teresa, for as important as she's made out to be, is so flat. I think it was well within the author's scope to improve the depth of these characters considering the decent job he did on secondary characters like Chuck and Minho.
By the time I reached the end, I all but rolled my eyes. I felt roughly the same as I did when I finished watching 'The Cube'...interesting story, but what was the point of putting the characters through all that? Especially when the characters themselves hardly spend any real time trying to understand their situation. And this latter part actually seems quite critical to the purpose of the situation they're in.
Okay, I know this is meant to be YA but it certainly had room to grow in the 'thought provoking' department. It's a decent and entertaining story, but will it become the topic of critical academic discussion? Not likely.
It's far too light in depth and development as it stands. Perhaps the eventual trilogy as a whole will provide something 'more'.
on November 29, 2013
This is a full analysis of the book, full spoilers included. You have been warned.
[ALSO, if you choose to downvote my review saying it wasn't helpful, please tell me why in the comments. I welcome everyone's thoughts and opinions, but if you downvote a review of this size without commenting I will be under the assumption you simply downvote all negative reviews.]
The story itself was interesting enough for the most part, but the pace was painfully slow and Dashner committed a few things you are not supposed to do in fictional writing, ever. I'm talking newbie mistakes here.
The second largest thing that Dashner violated was the Show, Don't Tell rule. He almost assuredly does not understand this, as a lot of his descriptions are flatly told instead of explained. "Thomas felt sad." "Thomas snapped." Dashner does not do a good job showing us his world or his characters, instead just telling us how things are. This interweaves with my next points a bit and is explained in greater detail later.
For my second point, marking the biggest mistake Dashner did with this story, he began the book with the White Room Syndrome. Much like the Show, Don't Tell rule, this is one thing that almost all writers know very deeply - do not start your story off with the white room syndrome.
The white room syndrome is where your character suddenly wakes up in a completely unfamiliar setting and knows nothing about anything - his past, his name, people he knew, etc... This is cheap because it allows you to dodge any sort of actual development in the world, its characters or the relationships that the characters have. This book in particular suffered a lot because Dashner decided to go this way.
One particular area it suffered deeply was with character development. Partially since he had no past to develop from, Thomas was a weak protagonist with nearly no original or interesting characteristics. He seems brave at times, but everybody in this book is. He seems smart at times, but so is everybody else. To me, he is almost a blank slate designed to move the story forward. I cannot list one original characteristic about him - other characters say he is interesting, but that is not the conclusion I came to - if the story didn't follow him, he would blend in with the rest of the characters.
The other characters were also an issue. Other than Minho and Chuck, I had a hard time picturing any of them or even telling them apart. Alby was the typical reckless group leader. Newt was the typical nicer more rational second-in-command. Teresa was a typical plain-Jane female side character designed to make the plot actually go somewhere. Minho was interesting, but Dashner could have developed him further than he did. And Chuck was a potentially interesting character, but Dashner killed him off for no reason.
It would have been very difficult to develop any of these characters to a great extent, though, since none of them have histories or memories outside of the maze. Because they all have heavy amnesia, they don't even remember who they are - thus, they cannot be deeply developed. They are just a bunch of people trying to get out. I have to wonder if Dashner himself had fleshed his characters out any deeper than this by this point of the story.
Another way the whole `no past' thing effects the plot is the relationship between Teresa and Tom. It was possibly one of the weakest romances I have ever read in a novel. They loved each other because they did `before it happened', not because they have actual chemistry. There was no development or movement in their relationship whatsoever - it just started off that they were in love just because they were, and that's where the book left off as well. They loved each other because it's what Dashner wanted for the story, not because it made sense for the characters.
Let's put this in contrast to the last book series I read - Divergent. In the first Divergent book, it takes almost 250 pages to fully develop the relationship between Tris and Tobias. Tobias starts off as her superior, and slowly their relationship develops and morphs into something tangible, which is why you were truly able to feel it in that series. It logically progressed into a relationship where you could really believe they had feelings for each other. In Maze Runner, the only reason I felt they loved each other was because I was told to think that. I had no real reason to assume they had feelings for each other besides that, since there was no chemistry, development, getting to know each other or even any conversations that didn't have directly to do with the plot. It was utterly emotionless and monotone and had no effect on me whatsoever - that is not how romance is supposed to be! That's not even how a mundane friendship is supposed to be! What he had with Chuck had more feeling than what he had with Teresa.
Then there were several gaping plot holes. One that I was particularly annoyed with was how long it took them to figure out that the Griever Hole was the only way out. I mean, seriously... I figured that out the second they introduced it and tossed the rock in. I twas utterly predictable. Just think. They have been running around this big maze for two years and have not found any exit of any sort, but in this one spot there appears to be a hole you can toss thing into to make them disappear. It took them an extra 200 pages to figure out that that was, just maybe, an exit of sorts.
Then, it surprised me to notice that Minho has noticed all of those WORLD IN CATASTROPHE: KILLZONE EXPERIMENT DEPARTMENT things all over the walls and never came to the conclusion that this was, oh, I don't know, some sort of experiment or something. It didn't even occur to the characters until the end of the book when Thomas brought it up that this might, just maybe be some sort of experiment.
Minho was a pretty intelligent character, and so was Newt and Alby. In fact, it was a main plot point at the end that they are all technically very intelligent people. If this is the case, how did they not figure all of this stuff out a very long time ago? (Getting back to the Telling issue, the only reason I had to believe they were smart was because I was told so. I was never shown them being particularly smart, especially considering the things I mentioned above.)
Then there is the scene where the sky disappears. I have several issues with this scene. First, why was the first conclusion Thomas came to that the sky was artificial? I was figuring that something covered up the sky at first, but the very first thing he figured was that it absolutely must be that the sky is fake, with no chance of another option whatsoever. There was no guesswork or figuring out to be done here - he just knew, just because he knew.
And at that, where did this even come from? To me, it seems like Dashner literally came up with that on the spot. There was absolutely nothing in this book beforehand to hint that the sky was fake - nothing. If Thomas had thought to himself that this or that looks or seem fabricated or a bit off, it would have made some sense why he came to the conclusion he did so ridiculously quickly when the sky disappeared. But there was nothing. It just happened. Something like this should have been foreshadowed.
This is something I feel he does a lot - or, forgets to do a lot. He does not develop a lot of things beforehand that eventually become important, nor does he give clarification afterwards. For an example, the telepathic talking that Teresa and Tom have. To me, this was clearly used so Teresa could move the story forward no matter where Tom was at the time being, but I would have been okay with that if there was another relevant and in-story reason why she could talk to him like that. Sure, he might answer that in the next book, but he should have answers that in this book, since it was a vital part of this story. As far as I am concerned, since he gave no good reason why that is the way it is, I am convinced the only reason why it is there is for a cheap and easy way to move the plot forward. If there is another relevant in-story reason why it exists, he probably could have come up with it in the second book.
That all might not be true, but if he either developed it beforehand or clarified it afterwards, there would be no confusion. By the end of this story, I am convinced it existed for no other reason than to easily move the story forward when it needed to, just like the sky suddenly disappearing. It felt like a random event he came up with on the spot so he could get un-stuck in his story.
Then, at the end, there is almost no resolution to the story whatsoever. They meet a woman who explains to them that this all happened for some sort of good reason (which I logically assumed), but then proceeded to say that that was certainly enough for them to understand and they should just accept it. She could have elaborated on just a bit more to explain a little bit of the context this story takes place in, but does not in any way mostly because she didn't feel they would want to know, or something. It seems to confuse her why making 40 people go through a maze for 2 years for less than 20 of them to survive with no context whatsoever might confused them or make then want answers of some sort.
Then a bunch of people come in and kill her, take the main characters to a safe place (while of course explaining nothing about anything, because there's no time to explain) and the book ends. Well, sort of, anyway. The bus driver rushing them to safety explains something about sun flares and a sickness that has ravaged the world and how the maze was all some sort of mental test, but it all seemed non sequitur to the rest of the story. This, again, reflects back to the issue he has with foreshadowing. There was absolutely nothing in this book to hint towards any of this, and it all comes across as being random and on-the-spot. I was unable to correlate anything that happened throughout the book to anything relevant to the sun flares.
There were very few answers to anything. Why could Tom and Teresa talk telepathically? What were the Grievers and why were they there? What was the test supposed to do, anyway? How was anything of the story relevant to the last few chapters at all?
Those are the sort of things I should not have had to wait for book 2 to have answered, since they were all relevant to this story. Sure, you need to leave some questions for the next book, but the way that he answered absolutely none of them leaves me to assume he might not have had it all figured out by this point. One could argue that Dashner was clever not to reveal anything, but that is just not the case since he did that at the expense of this story not having an actual conclusion. Because of this laziness to answer anything at all, I simply have no desire to find out what happens next. I don't care what he comes up with, since he has not shown me that even he knew where he was going with the story by that point. I'm finding it hard to believe he actually had a big grand plan to reveal to us by this point.
Take into consideration how the first Hunger Games ends. (Hunger Games 1 spoilers for those who have not read the book or seen the movie by this point. Skip this paragraph if so.) Katniss and Peeta make the government angry by making a joke out of them at the end of the Games, so at the end of book 1, we have to wait and see how they will politically fight against the government and how they can pretend to be in love when they're not. There was something truly tangible to look forward to in the sequel, and that is what drove me to pick up the next book. This was all done while making the first book a complete story with some resolution. That is how a book 1 is supposed to be done.
Now let's go back to the ending of Maze Runner. They escape the maze to learn that it existed for some sort of reason, and the book ends with the promise that you will learn what that reason was later. There is no resolution to any questions raised in the story, there is no other major hook to make you read the next book - there is just no real reason to continue. The one and only hook that the end of this book had was that you will learn what the first book was about in the second book. That's it. Instead of building up new scenarios and conflicts to transfer over, his only hook is that he withheld vital information that should have been at the end of this book that he will give in the second one. In comparison to the Hunger Games, it's quite pathetic and lazy.
I am not entirely certain how people can compare this book to the Hunger Games or Divergent. It's just not on the same level of storytelling in any area. The writing is full of telling, the story is riddled with plot holes and plot devices, the character development is lacking, the romance and relationships are boring and there is no real conclusion to the story. I am not certain why people put this book up there with some of the other major titles right now.
on September 26, 2014
I was really, really, really disappointed.
I recently saw the movie adaptation, and enjoyed it quite a bit, primarily because of how interesting the plot was. Seeing the movie made me want to read the books, which I thought would be terrific since the plot was really what had me excited. I can only say that I doubt they let Dashner come any where near the writing of the script.
I gave this two stars as opposed to one, because what I have to concede to Dashner, despite how hard he tried to mess it up with his writing, is that he came up with an interesting enough concept to make me begrudgingly read quickly through to at least finish the book and see what happens. This meant page after page of rolling my eyes at the inconsistency, repetitiveness, and general lack of ability whatsoever in his writing, waiting to be done. It was not good. I found myself frequently wishing that he had just told someone else the plot he had come with, and have them write it, saving his plot from the abysmal destruction of his writing. He subjects his readers to far worse than any of his characters are exposed to, trapped in the maze.
This could have been great, on par with Hunger Games type stories, the story had the potential. This is what I had been expecting and hoping for, but honestly, I've no idea how this could have even been published it was such a poor execution. The inconsistency was maddening, The dialogue and thought processes of the characters was physically painful, and every time Dashner used another terrible simile, which appeared to be his only literary device, it took more effort on my part to press forward than it must have taken him to write. Someone in another review I think said it the best - it seemed that zero thought was put into anything, he wrote completely linearly, straight through in one, chapter 1 to chapter 64, attempting to messily cover up for the small fraction of inconsistencies that he actually caught, and failed miserably. There were lines where he would declare, incapable of showing, that a character understood something, and then had apparently forgotten a paragraph later when he attempted to have the character again "grippingly" come to the same "thrilling" conclusion a second time. His "cliff hanging" attempts at character development had me on the verge of tears. It was just so, so disappointing.
You know what, I am giving it one star. In the style of Dashner, I've now decided this is what should happen, and theres no sense in trying to change anything thats already happened to make it consistent. It doesn't deserve two. I am staying well away from the sequels. I want to know what happens, I really do, but I cannot put myself through that again. I want to write more cautionary words to you, aspiring reader, but I'm actually physically exhausted from forcing myself to complete the book. I must rest. And delete it off my kindle.
Just go see the movie and don't ruin the movie with the book.
on October 3, 2010
After completing the Hunger Games trilogy, I was eager for another great YA dystopian read but did not find it in The Maze Runner. I was initially intrigued by the book's description. I knew there would be boys caught in a maze, with their memories wiped and little hope for escape, and I knew that the appearance of a girl on the scene would change everything. Mazes, games, riddles, and other sorts of non-traditional mysteries attract me, but Dashner's execution of his book did not.
The plot was ill-paced. At times it felt slow, because Dashner introduced the reader to the maze in the same way the main character, Thomas, was introduced to it: both the reader and Thomas learn almost everything through numerous secondary explanations by characters. In more skilled hands, this might be an effective way of immersing a reader in a fictional world. Dashner's exposition, however, felt cumbersome. As a reader, if I'm going to be told about a world rather than shown it, I'd better be told well. When I wasn't slogging through Dashner's writing, I was tumbling head-over-heels down its textual cliffs. Parts of the novel simply moved too quickly for any real character or plot development to occur. Readers are barely introduced to the main protagonist before being introduced to Teresa, the girl who supposedly changes everything. We really have very little sense for what's changing, because this inciting action comes so shortly after our encounter with Thomas.
The plot also felt as if it had been constructed with little forethought. Each step or twist in the plot seemed as if it were generated on the spot as the author wrote his way linearly through this novel. Shazam! Such and such happens out of the blue. A quick patch-up of missing explanation ensues. Shazam! The next twist happens, followed by some explanation. And so on, until one of the biggest Shazams!: The crew exits the maze and suddenly, for no apparent reason, one of their members is killed. Subtle build-up of suspense and intricately interwoven plots do not exist in this novel. It's almost entirely composed of sudden action followed by explanatory reaction.
All this might not matter so much, if I'd felt in any way connected to the characters. But I didn't. Most of the boys meshed together in my brain, particularly since so many of them end up acting "out of character" anyway. As for Teresa and Thomas, readers know little about their back-story (until the peritextual "Exclusive Wicked Correspondence" at the end), and I didn't find their characters all that complex, deep, relatable, or quirky (aside from their obvious telepathic skill). Character "complexity" in this novel was little more than character "unpredictability."
In short, I was disappointed. The reason I gave the book 2 stars instead of 1, though, is because I did at least finish it. I've no intention of reading the sequel, however.
on October 4, 2010
I really wanted to love this book. I met James Dashner at a writing conference once. He seemed like a really amiable guy, with a good sense of humor. I read the first book in the 13th Reality series and didn't love it, but I was quite willing to give him another shot. Especially because the premise of the Maze Runner is fascinating. Sadly, while this review does make me feel rather traitorous, I have to say that the execution of the concept failed on many levels. There are a lot of good things about the book, but they don't quite make up for the flaws.
1. The idea is fantastic.
2. The ending of the book is a total slap in the face (in a good way).
3. Chuck, Minho, Newt, and Alby were likeable enough.
4. The mystery of the book is enough to stop readers from putting the book down until the very end, and it is suspenseful to keep you on edge throughout the duration.
5. James Dashner has created a very vivid well written dystopian world that's really quite fascinating.
1. James Dashner has a horrible habit of treating fairly obvious things like they are mysteries. He tends to foreshadow and suspensefully lead up to these big reveals toward the end of the novel that sound like they're going to be a major turning point, and then the main character is like 'I've figured it out! We have to throw the ring into Mount Doom!' and then all of the characters react to this like it's mind blowing, all while the reader is thinking... "Well of course you have to throw the ring into Mount Doom. Gandalf said that was the only way to destroy the ring....In like the first chapter, and there hasn't been a single alternate option given" while they bury their faces in their palms. The 13th Reality had the same problem. It's condescending and rather ridiculous to assume that readers won't even come to obvious conclusions on their own, and ruined the book.
2. The lead characters are very one dimensional. Thomas is completely atypical young adult lead, and I quickly began to care more about what happened to his friends than what happened to him. I thought that his amnesia would make him interesting, but that wasn't really explored as much as it should have been Sure he was given other special privileges that none of the other characters were, but that doesn't do anything for his likeability or do anything to help round him out better. Honestly, Thomas could have died at the end, and I probably wouldn't have cared much.
3. It didn't feel like the author fulfilled every promise the book made. The book seemed to promise that the maze was fascinating, and intricate, and filled with all kinds of horrifying creatures. I was quite disappointed by how simple the maze turned out to be. The puzzle was interesting, but the overall maze with only moving walls and one horrifying creature didn't live up to my expectations.
4. The slang was over-emphasized, crude, and wince worthy. The few 9 year old boys that it would appeal to are usually too busy frying insects and making up underwear knock knock jokes to read.
Overall, I'd say skip this one, but read the Wikipedia synopsis. That will give you all of the good content in less time than you spent reading this review.
A hundred or so teenage boys, their memories wiped, are trapped in the center of a gigantic shifting maze, many miles across. As the book begins, Thomas arrives in the "Glade" -- the center of the maze, where they all live. The next day the first girl ever shows up too. And everything begins to change.
While living in the center of a giant ever-changing maze full of monsters is an extremely odd way to live, the boys have made do. After two years, they have a ruling council, they grow food, raise animals, and look after any sick or injured. They also send out trained runners to map the maze every day, in search of an exit, or a pattern, or some clue as to what they're doing here.
With the arrival of Thomas and the girl, the Gladers' carefully-crafted order begins to break down. Now solving and escaping the maze is immediately necessary. Fortunately, Thomas isn't quite like all the other Gladers, and is able to help.
The premise is great, and the plot moves well. There's a lot of action and the tension constantly builds. Unfortunately, the story failed in two important aspects for me.
First, the the maze itself is so absurd, the final explanation had better be pretty impressive for the story to hang together. And at least for me, the explanation was not plausible. Though, at least there *is* an explanation, which is more than can be said for some stories I've encountered!
The second weakness was the characters. I'd be okay with a somewhat implausible scenario if the characters were likable enough. But, Thomas is bland and whiny, and his only moments of greatness arise from his forgotten past. The other boys are mostly hostile and uninteresting. Not, mind you, that I expect deep, sophisticated personalities from amnesiac teenage boys! They were all believable, but they weren't compelling enough to carry the story. Neither was the new girl very interesting. Thomas is attracted to her, but again, that's an artifact of his past, not a real live reaction that we get to watch develop.
Overall, it was a fun read, and I don't regret the time spent, but I won't look for the sequels.
on March 27, 2014
I do not typically write reviews, but I feel compelled to save you a few hours of your life. :)
So many try to excuse this book's atrocious plot and character development by saying, "It's Young Adult". I'm 32 yrs old; I almost exclusively read books written for children/teens because most are written fairly fast-paced in order to keep the younger audience engaged, allowing the focus to be on the storytelling. I love storytelling. In other words, this is the time for the character and plot to shine. Harry Potter, the Hunger Games: here are two examples that have reached the masses. But there are many, many more.
The Maze Runner ain't one of them. I finished the book because the premise had so much potential, and I wanted to find out what happened. For those of you who would argue that means the book was at least interesting enough to suck me in, so it must have been half-way decent, I say not if it NEVER delivered. At some point, I just felt past the point of no return and slogged through to the abysmal ending.
By the way, many YA books fall apart at the end, giving the reader the feeling that the author was bored with the story, rushing to meet a deadline, or never had a good plot resolution lined up in the first place. Dasher's ending is a train wreck, feeling like he's pulling events out of his butt as the train picks up speed.
I'd say Dashner's greatest flaw is telling the readers, instead of showing. He thinks we will swallow his nonsense because he said it was so. Examples: The Maze is compelling enough to make young boys run around exploring it for 2 years. These boys have above average intelligence. (That one really got me. What?? Compared to what, a chimp? That's an insult to chimps, imo.) Thomas is a hero genius everyman. Alby is a compelling leader. Greavers are scary. Theresa is an empowered female. (Oh, come on!)
The other infuriating thing about this book is that the plot progression relies way too much on whether sulky teen boys feel like answering the equally sulky main character's burning questions immediately or, say... after lunch... maybe tomorrow... There is no reason behind when new information finally comes to light and advances the plot. I guess this accounts for the lack of a coherent plot past the first few chapters.
Suffice to say, don't bother picking up this book. Do yourself a favor, and if you want to read about young people surviving on their own initiative in a dangerous setting, pick up John Marsden's "Tomorrow When the War Began". Or for believably genius children in a Sci-Fi setting: Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game".
on April 11, 2010
I know there are a lot of positive reviews for this book -- so maybe I'm the one up in the night -- but this book was, by and large, VERY poorly written.
Reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner is actually a somewhat strange experience. What I mean by that is usually when an author can't write well, the book -- as a product of that writing -- is simply bad. Period. But in this case, Dashner's story is actually a bit intriguing (though it's the same story device -- "Who am I?" -- found in countless videos games), and his plotting is serviceable (though he uses some weasel techniques in the plotting, especially at first, like having characters deliberately withhold information from the protagonist for no story-driven reason). So in spite of how poorly this book is written, I stuck it out to the end (only to find it's the first book in a series <sigh> -- alas, I won't be able to force myself through a second book).
One of the main problems (but by no means the only problem) is that Dashner is constantly "telling" instead of "showing," which is a violation of one of the first rules of good writing. Indeed, even when he "shows" something, he usually feels compelled to "tell" the reader too (often at the very same time).
The characters are inconsistent. In fact they are almost schizophrenic at times (though it's not character development, just poor writing). They don't feel remotely like "real" people. Even in a fantasy -- perhaps ESPECIALLY in a fantasy -- the principle of verisimilitude is an absolute must. Unfortunately, there is a severe lack of the application of that principle in this book.
Along those lines, the "voice" of the protagonist is downright awful. It's not so much stream-of-consciousness (which at least is a real technique, if an unpleasant one) but the fact that the character's thoughts are simply a jumble (though this is also mostly not character development). His emotions bounce around in odd ways. And he repeats himself, well, repeatedly.
Perhaps the problems with this book can be summed by saying the writing itself constantly gets in the way of the storytelling, which is never a good thing.
The "idea" of The Maze Runner is okay, but unlike -- say -- an Isaac Asimov, who was an "idea" writer, and whose characters are -- by and large -- cardboard, this whole mangled mess of writing makes the characters just feel like they are the product of someone who doesn't yet know how to write very well. Almost like a bright high school kid (though Dashner is not) who has yet to come up against a skilled teacher/editor (and thus get schooled in proper technique).
Which brings up another point. In his acknowledgments Dashner mentions how one particular editor really helped him and should have co-credit on the cover of the book. Well, I don't know what exactly she did to help (or how bad the manuscript was to begin with), but I kept thinking the whole time I was reading (before I even read the acknowledgments) that what this book really needed was a strong editor to basically teach Dashner how to write competently.
This is a book from a New York publisher (and Dashner is a best-selling author of the 13th Reality Series, which I have not read). Has the skill level of those working in the publishing business truly fallen so far?
A strong editor could have done a lot with this book and with this writer. It's not that Dashner doesn't have potential. But in the end, reading The Maze Runner was a painful experience and a waste of time.
on April 4, 2010
Lately, I've been really into the YA dystopian books. I blindly picked up The Hunger Games last summer and loved it. I've since read Forest of Hands and Teeth, Birthmarked, Adoration of Jenna Fox, The Host, and a few others, all of which I enjoyed. I like stories that are not noticeably YA, except maybe for the absence of vulgarities and sex. It was very obvious to me that The Maze Runner was a YA book, which for some, may not matter. But for me, it lacked the depth and intricacies that make or breaks a story.
I was absolutely excited for The Maze Runner after reading the Amazon reviews, but this is the very first time I've been so sorely disappointed when picking up a book due to other reviewers' enthusiasm. I had a hard time getting through The Maze Runner. There were a few times it interested me to keep reading, but for the most part I could only read it for a 1/2 hour at a time, when usually I could read for hours on end. Towards the middle I started skimming and reading dialogue to push myself through the bland writing.
I wasn't emotionally invested in any of the characters, and had a really tough time picturing a lot of it, especially the grievers, which I blame on the writing. The new words to substitute for swears were annoying, and the characters very flat. I thought the ending was predictable and lackluster. This book might really work for some but I really, really didn't like it at all.
on February 23, 2011
The Maze Runner is the story of 16-year-old Thomas, who arrives in a place called the Glade with no memory of his past. Thomas is just another in a series of boys who arrive once-per-month in the Glade, an area surrounded by a mysterious maze that the boys have been trying desperately to solve for two years. However, with Thomas' arrival, strange things begin happening in the Glade. The first female in a long line of boys appears and suddenly the boys in the Glade are faced with solving the maze once and for all or certain death.
Unfortunately, the characters don't come to life enough to make you care what happens either way. Thomas is the narrator, and goes through a myriad of emotions without any real depth or understanding of his feelings, as do the other characters. One minute, he's embarrassed, the next, angry, and the next, incredibly sad, without neither him nor the reader understanding why. The same goes for other characters: for a group of boys, they are certainly dramatically emotional. For instance, the narrator would say "He flashed me a look of anger," leaving the reader to question, "Why is he angry?" This happened multiple times throughout the book, with no real explanation in the end. Teresa, who should have been compelling and fascinating, was rather flat. She was described as beautiful multiple times throughout the novel and we were constantly told that Thomas felt some deep attraction and desire to be near her. But the entire time, I just wondered why. She didn't have anything particularly interesting to contribute conversationally, nor was she a catalyst in the action. Most telling, when characters were killed, I felt little to nothing. All of them felt like cardboard cut-outs, not real people.
Another problem I saw was that the main plot device in the book was secrecy. Characters simply withheld information from Thomas for no good reason (they weren't worried about spies, they weren't trying to spare his feelings, nothing) except to keep the reader guessing. Seriously, why were they so secretive? Heck, they wouldn't even tell him what the made-up words they were constantly using meant. And then in the end, when there should have been a Big Reveal, there wasn't. It was very anticlimactic.
(Slight spoilers) Also, the "solution" was found much too quickly. It seemed Thomas was almost a genius. One would think that a group of boys that have been working feverishly on solving the maze (their most important and coveted job) for two years may have had some leverage or knowledge over the "Greenie" when it came to solving the thing. But Thomas was constantly proving himself smarter, braver, and stronger than them in all respects. The sudden "epiphany," along with many of Thomas's other feats just felt forced.
Overall, I give the book 2 stars because the premise was unique and original. But the lack of characterization created a disconnect between the reader and the characters that in the end, made you not even care about what happened to them.