Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Chicken House Ltd
Released: October 6th 2009
Pages: 384 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon UK / Amazon US
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.
What does it say across the top of my copy? "...a must for fans of The Hunger Games". In my experience, books with captions like this across the top are just a clear sign of how little publicity it must get - so little that in a desperate attempt, they try to capture people's attention by bouncing off a successful book's thunder. However, I don't think The Maze Runner needs to bounce off of The Hunger Games's success - it is brilliant in its own right.
At first, I was as confused as Thomas was, the main protagonist. Sent into the Glade via the Box, Thomas knows just as much about life as I do, except he has no memories of his own. For example, he remembers what it was like to eat, but he doesn't remember ever eating anything himself before, or who cooked it for him. Upon entering the Glade, it soon becomes obvious that no one else there knows any more about their own lives. However, what is different about Thomas is that everything about the Glade seems familiar - the activities, the routines, the Maze - everything. So when a mysterious girl is sent up the next day in the Box, and somehow manages to communicate with Thomas telepathically - well, everything begins to change.
I honestly don't know where to start - I have all this praise ready to burst out of me! The Maze Runner was fantastic, to put it simply. At the beginning I was a little bit confused, but I was quickly caught up in all the action. Dashner created something very similar to a Hunger Games arena, but at the same time it was nothing alike - the Gladers, although trapped in a seemingly inescapable prison, have managed to create a community among themselves, learning to become pretty much self-sufficient. Despite it being dystopian, I was surprised at how realistic the author managed to keep it - the structure and order of the community wasn't perfect, but it was good, and I could imagine boys that age being able to come together like that. Or maybe that's just because I'm currently reading Lord of the Flies for English? Either way, the way Dashner characterized and created the setting and sense of community was brilliant and thorough.
The plot was fantastic, which I think goes without saying. What I think I loved the most was how the Glade was a created world inside of an unknown (until the end of the novel) dystopian world - everything was new and confusing to the reader, just as it was for Thomas, so we journey along with him, learning stuff at the same pace as he does, which enables the reader to feel more connected to him.
It also helped that I liked the character of Thomas - actually, I don't think there was a single character Dashner intended for me to like who I disliked. Each character was unique, and held different characteristics which made them more realistic. No two characters blurred together, which is something I find can often happen in books when the author is more concerned about how much action is happening. A few people may argue that out of all the characters supposedly present in the Glade, very few were spoken about. I believe that if Dashner had spent time developing every individual character, I would have lost interest. The few characters that he did go into depth with were good and very obviously separate in their views and personalities.
Overall, I only had two problems with this story. Number one is the maths. Dashner said that at the beginning a small group were deposited into the Maze, Alby being the only original still alive. It was then explained that he'd been there for two years, and that every month, one new boy was sent down in the Box. That would mean 26 Gladers, including the new arrivals of Thomas and Teresa. Why is it then, that (SPOILER ALERT) after they get out of the Glade, half of the community supposedly died - yet there are 21 survivors? Am I missing something, or was that just not thought out properly? The second problem I had was the ending. It was pretty anticlimatic, and despite my love for this novel, I was left without the desire to read the sequel. Why? I have no clue, especially with the massive cliff-hanger. For some reason, I believe that once out of the Glade and into the world of the Flare, the story will become boring and very samey - samey in the sense that loads of dystopian novels are about plagues and survival. The Maze Runner was something more.
The synopsis promised everything that the book delivered, and as soon as I finished it, I ran to my computer to get the review done. It was a fantastic read, and at times I found myself whizzing through the pages, eager to know what happened next. However, at the moment I just don't feel the desire to know what happens next in the series - I want to be left with the Glade and how amazing the concept was. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who loved The Hunger Games, or just dystopian and science fiction in general.