Monday, September 29, 2014

[Review] The Maze Runner by James Dashner

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Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 22/10/2013
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 370
Source: Publisher for review
Genre: YA (14+) - Dystopian

Violence | Sexual ContentProfanity
My Rating: 

Intense

My thoughts

Thank you so, so, so much Alesha @ Scholastic for sending me a review copy! I have been so excited to watch the movie (huge dystopian fan!), only that I hadn't yet read the book. (And I make it a general rule to read the book before the movie.) I went into this book feeling a bit hesitant and anxious to pick up and read other books that I NEEDED-TO-READ-RIGHT-NOW, but since this book was for review and kind of urgent (as I wanted to read it before watching the movie) I pushed forward. By about 50 pages in I was hooked. Dashner throws you into this freaky world where teenage boys have had to build a society in a place surrounded by the Maze. And he kept unleashing mystery after mystery, bringing about such an intense and fast-paced read that I couldn't stay away for long--for the past few days if I wasn't at work or busy socialising, my nose was stuck in this book.


The Maze Runner follows a teenage boy called Thomas, who doesn't know anything other than his name, who wakes up in a lift (known as the Box) that opens up and reveals to him the Glade, a society run by and operated by other teenage boys called Gladers. They are surrounded by the Maze, which is mapped and navigated by the Runners to try and find escape. They must return at sunset before the Door closes, otherwise they will get stung by deadly creatures called the Grivers. Quickly he learns that he may not be like all the others; shortly after his arrival, another Glader arrives—a girl. Never before have they had two new Greenies (newbies) in a month, much less a girl. "Everything is going to change." Thomas finds that this place is actually FAMILIAR, that maybe he's been here before. One thing that he knows above anything else is this: he MUST become a Runner.


This book was just so interesting. The Maze Runner is an exceptional first book in a series. I was so intrigued by everything that was happening within the society and became really invested in some of the characters and how they interacted with one another. In particular I really liked Minho, Newt (to an extent) and Chuck (but more for what he represents to Thomas). As with most dystopian YA fiction, I found the character development to be lacking but I feel like that can be excused. These people have NO memory of their past, and the ones who do—the ones who have gone through the Changing—are haunted by it. So I’ll just expect more in the next books where character development in concerned.


As for the main character, Thomas… I suppose my opinions about him are neutral. I thought he was a great protagonist and at times I felt like he was sort of a Harry Potter, famous (or infamous) for things that are out of his control and that which he cannot understand. He’s compassionate and shows real human emotions, loyal and courageous and modest and quite a relatable character. I think the characteristic that stuck with me most was that he just wanted to get out, no matter what was waiting for them outside, because nothing could be worse than the Glade and the Grievers and the Maze. He just wouldn’t give up.


The bond that he forms with Chuck was so bittersweet. I felt like Chuck himself was a boring character, however. What he represents, though, resonates deeply within me. Thomas promises Chuck that he will get him home to his parents. Chuck becomes a beacon of hope for Thomas; through everything Chuck doesn’t ever lose hope that the outside world will become paradise for the two of them and that they will find their loving, nurturing parents that they were taken away from. There are times when Thomas doesn’t believe that kind of world exists, but Chuck doesn’t give up hope and for that I loved him.


The girl Glader... I feel kind of neutral about her, but I think my opinion of her will become stronger and change when I continue the series. The interactions between her and Thomas were nice. I’m glad that their past is still left kind of vague and there are still mysteries to be solved in the next book. I really want to know how they can talk to each other like that and I just hope that Dashner does explain it somehow, eventually. I don’t think it’s something I can just accept and move on with!


The writing was decent. The vocabulary is relatively simple and suitable for younger audiences. Swear words are replaced by Glader slang. The world building and description was also pretty good. It wasn’t lush and in abundance but I was still able to imagine this world with ease; it was made very obvious in the writing that this world was unlike our own.


Above all, I’m extremely pumped to watch the movie now (though I’ve heard the book is better!). I will definitely be continuing the series in the future. I am so curious to learn more about this twisted world that Dashner has created. If you’re a fan of dystopia, I recommend you to read The Maze Runner. It is in no way perfect but it was an incredibly intense, entertaining and engrossing read!


Quotes

First line: He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.


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I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.



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