Monday, December 14, 2009
Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
When Thomas wakes up in a dark elevator, he has no memories of the past, no idea how he got there. The elevator takes him into the Glade, a little self-sustaining world filled with 50 or 60 other adolescent boys, all of which also came through the elevator, one a month for the past two years. The Glade is surrounded by a massive maze, though not without persistent trying on the Gladers’ part.
Then everything changes. The very next day after Thomas’ arrival, an unconscious girl shows up, bearing a message that says that the end is beginning. All of a sudden it becomes more important that they solve the Maze and get out of there…but new developments seem to indicate that the maze is unsolvable.
J. K. Rowling meets Michael Grant meets William Golding meets Suzanne Collins in this thrilling new series starter that is destined to rock the bestselling charts and find its way into many people’s hands. To put it even more straightforwardly, THE MAZE RUNNER is brilliant, exciting, and utterly unputdownable. My heart is still pounding even days after reading it!
The two most impressive things that Dashner achieves in THE MAZE RUNNER are suspense and the suspension of disbelief. The Glade is a truly creepy world, with half-animal half-machine killers roaming the Maze after night, new arbitrary “Variables” changing the stakes and odds of survival for the kids, and ever more crazy things thrown into the story that, at the hands of a less skilled author, would make readers incredulous. But what Dashner accomplishes is the total separation of the Glade from reality, so that when he does throw a whole bunch of random crazy scary things in, you won’t even blink an eye, except from terror. You won’t question the arbitrary rules in this new world, because you won’t have to, and you’ll be too busy biting your nails and flipping the pages to worry!
A story cannot stand on its plot and suspense alone, but THE MAZE RUNNER also has well-developed characters as well. At first, Thomas may seem a little irritating, so frightened and questioning of authority is he. However, when he begins to take control of his emotions and emerges into a confident potential leader, we are firmly on his side and cheer him on in our own ineffectual little ways, outside of the story. Similarly, the other teenagers in the Glade become people who, even if you don’t necessarily like, you can still identify and empathize with. The depth and breadth of characters makes THE MAZE RUNNER not simply a plot-driven novel, but a book that can compete with other suspenseful and complex bestsellers.
Overall, THE MAZE RUNNER is a novel you shouldn’t miss. It won’t appeal to everyone—some might find the premise too staged, while others may complain of unsympathetic characters—but few can deny the palpable excitement that runs through these pages. Pick this book up and see for yourself which camp you fall in: either way, I don’t think it will be a waste of your time.
J. K. Rowling
Michael Grant (Gone series)
William Golding (Lord of the Flies)
Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games)
Herbie Brennan (the Faerie Wars Chronicles)
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 2.5 out of 5 - It took weeks for me to figure out what the cover was depicting. Oh well! I like that it's a unisex cover, and I don't really care beyond that: what's inside is so amazing.
Random House / Oct. 6, 2009 / Hardcover / $16.99
Received for review from a Shelf Awareness ad - thanks, Random House!
Stay tuned for an interview with the fabulous author himself, and for something else...