Author: James Dashner
Release date: 2nd August 2010 UK
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.