The Maze Runner By James Dashner is the first part in a three part series about a group of teenagers who find themselves in the middle of a maze. Every month a new boy wakes up in the strange new world, the Glade, to find his memory wiped. Each day the boys struggle to survive in this existence where they are given the mere essentials. Leaderships form and boys are assigned to work jobs where they excel the most. One job is to be a runner and go out each day in the maze to see if a way out can be found. The story revolves around Thomas who desires to become a runner as it appears that he may know more about the maze than most.
This book is another young adult novel set in a dark, dystopian world. This book is also another book written as a part of a series. It might be my fault but I feel at the moment overwhelmed by novels that fit the following three qualities: (1) young adult novels about young adults, (2) novels about a futuristic, dystopian society where the youth are the main focus, and (3) books that hardly stand alone but are part of at least a three part series. I am sure that if the books were not so popular amongst teenagers and did not get young people who never before enjoyed reading to read for fun then there would not be so many books that follow this formula.
While I do find the storylines compelling and can understand why young people enjoy them so much, the part that irritates me the most is the fact that when I get to the end of the book I find that it is not really the end. To me, the first Hunger Games book and Divergent novel wrap the storyline up more than The Maze Runner does. In this book, I feel like it is a huge letdown as I was so eager to get to the end and find some relief from the tension to only find that the end was nowhere in sight, instead the story was simply paused. I wonder if this device is most common in young adult novels because it helps to keep the novels on the shorter side, which makes it easier for teenagers with short attention spans, or if it has more to do with the fact that more books equal more money (but wouldn’t that be true in any genre?).
I found some interesting concepts in this novel that made the story compelling. The new television show, Utopia (horrible show with an intriguing concept), is sorta working under the same principles that these boys are. Both groups are forced to start a community from scratch and immediately both groups discover that rules and a government of sorts are necessary. The main difference is that these boys remember so little of their former lives that they barely know what a government is or should be. Naturally, leadership falls into the hands of the most experienced and most adept, and the rules are created as a means to protect the community from violence or death. Another aspect that I enjoyed about this book was the bond and relationship between Thomas and the girl, Teresa, who mysteriously is sent to the community. These two have what is a very tight yet confused bond. They know each other as well as siblings would but they care for each other in the same way as two lovers would. I was intrigued to keep reading to see how the stress of their situation would affect that bond.
While the movie did a decent job of showing how the infrastructure of the Glade worked, the filmmakers chose to focus on the action, which was for sure exciting, and gloss over the relationships found in the novel, especially that of Thomas and Teresa. Because I enjoyed very much the strong bond between Thomas and Teresa in the novel, I was highly disappointed that their relationship was practically boiled down to co-workers in the film. The filmmakers must have felt like they had to work hard to compress the story to make it work for the film because there were a lot of scenes that were pushed together like two bookends that had the books between them taken out. I haven’t read any of the other books in the series so I can’t be sure that the screenwriter wasn’t reaching into book two, but I was irritated with liberties that were taken at the end of the book. I suppose that the ending was a means to grab everyone’s attention and get us excited for the sequel, but I found it unnecessary.
I would recommend this novel to someone who I know enjoys the young adult series that are so popular right now. I would, however, recommend The Hunger Games and Divergent over this novel. Perhaps that is because I am a girl and those books have girls as the main characters. Perhaps that is because I like the romances found in those books more. Or, perhaps it is simply because I became familiar with those books first (I realize that this is unfair as the first book in the Maze Runner series came out a year before the first Hunger Games book, but life is not fair). The narrator did an excellent job wit the accents of all of the boys and made it so that each character was distinct, which was helpful because there were quite a few character to get to know.