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Monday, 20 September 2010

Review: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Release date: 2nd August 2010 UK
Genre: Dystopia
Target audience: 11+
UK Publisher: Chicken House

Summary from Amazon:
When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he's not alone. He's surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade - a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze. Like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they came to be there - or what's happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything - even the Grievers, half-machine, half-animal horror that patrols its corridors, to find out.

The Maze Runner, for me, was all about running the gauntlet. Thomas wakes up in a lift. He remembers only his name but not where he came from or anything about his life in the past. When the doors open, he is greeted by a band of boys who call themselves the Gladers. It soon becomes apparent that there is only one way out of the glade and that is to solve the impossible maze that lies at its heart. Thomas doesn’t know why he feels it but he knows that he has to become a Maze Runner and find the way out.

I have to admit it took me a while to get into The Maze Runner but I knew so many bloggers had loved it so I persevered. The beginning was rather disorientating largely because Thomas doesn’t understand the things that he is seeing or some of the colloquial terms used by the Gladers. Once Thomas began to understand the situation he was faced with I began to feel intrigued by the story.

At times I was reminded of Lord of the Flies – a group of boys fighting for their survival and not knowing why or how they came to be in the mysterious glade. At other times I was reminded of The Hunger Games because The Maze Runner had The Panopticon feel – a prison where the criminals do not know if they are constantly being watched. The Gladers seem to have been forced into the Glade against their will and their freedom depends on their solving the maze. The bleak tone and more violent aspects of the book didn’t really appeal to me.

Having said that, I did love the characterisation in the novel. Thomas is a divided character. He knows that he is integral to the survival of the Gladers but he doesn’t know why. Yet he carries a huge burden of guilt because of brief glimpses into his past. This certainly raises interesting questions about guilt and innocent and how much responsibility we have over our own actions. It was the connection between Thomas and the other Gladers – Minho, Teresa, Newt and Chuck that kept me absorbed throughout the story.

The Maze Runner will certainly be a hit with fans of the dystopian genre. They will love the impossible odds, the gritty battles of will and the ever present feeling of being watched. When you add it the character dynamics, you know that this book is a winner!

Thank you to Chicken House for sending me the book to review.


Melissa said...

I really love this book so much, and I'm glad to see you stuck it out and enjoyed it, too! Great review :)

Becky said...

Melissa, hey! Thanks. It is a great book!

Clover said...

I've been really looking forward to this book, but since I bought it I haven't been thrilled to read it. Something about it just makes it feel like it'd be a book I'd have to persevere with :( Will get to it eventually..

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I can't wait to try this. Great review.

Katherine Roberts said...

Nice to see this review, Becky. Echoes of the Minotaur, maybe?

kirsty at the overflowing library said...

i can't wait to read this - it might have to be next on my list

Darren @ Bart's Bookshelf said...

Got this one coming up in the next month or so to read, it's been on my radar for a while so really looking forward to it.

Christina/Book Addict said...

Great review, Becky! I loved this book and I'm glad you stuck it out. I think the beginning is a bit tough, but I was definitely sucked in towards the middle. How about that ending? I am dying to know what will happen and have pre-ordered Scorch Trials. There are so many questions still unanswered!

Lauren said...

Another fab balanced review! I love this one completely, so I'm glad you found some aspects of it you enjoyed. I also felt that it reminded me of The Hunger Games... with a little Peter Pan thrown in too, maybe. The mystery totally got under my skin and like Christina I'm desperate to find out what happens next!

Splendibird said...

This is such an interesting review. I'm quite curious to read it as I have read some positive reviews, but also quite a few negative ones. It sounds really interesting, though, and as a lover of dystopia I'm definitely going to have to give it a shot.

brizmus said...

sounds like a winner for real, even if the beginning is a little disorienting. Sounds like I might actually like the disorientation. :-)

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I loved this, even if the beginning was a little slow.

Becky said...

Clover, it is really good once you get past the disorientation, so I recommend giving it a go.

Juju, I really think you'll enjoy this one.

Katherine, yes indeed. As I was reading, I wondered if Thomas was an interpretation of Theseus.

Kirsty and Darren, hope you enjoy!

Christina, yes many questions still to be answered. And I agree the ending was high on the drama.

Lauren, I think I'm not so into the whole aggressive nature of this type of dystopian - life and death battles, violence etc. For me, it is just so bleak. But I did really enjoy the characters.

Splendibird, I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy it. You're a hardcore dystopian girl so...

Brizmus, yay so I think you should give it a go then.

Sophie, I didn't realise other people thought the beginning was slow. I thought it was just me LOL

brandileigh2003 said...

I like the UK cover better than US BTW. :)

I also thought beginning was slow, but I got into it.

Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog