The Maze Runner by James Dashner [A Review]
IF YOU AIN’T SCARED, YOU AIN’T HUMAN.
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.
NICE TO MEET YA, SHANK. WELCOME TO THE GLADE.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Everything is going to change.
The a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
REMEMBER. SURVIVE. RUN.
So, Thomas wakes up in complete darkness, moving onward and upward within an industrial elevator. He knows nothing of where he came from, who he is, or where he’s going. His memory has been wiped. All he knows is his name, Thomas. When he gets to the end of his upward journey through complete darkness he emerges onto stable land, surrounded by some sixty other boys. They tell him he’s a green bean, a newbie, and that soon he will learn his place in The Glades, the place where they live. They don’t have an explanation for him, not a word about what this place is, or why any of them are there? Why? Because they don’t know either.
Surrounded by four insurmountable concrete walls, Thomas is told that they are surrounded, from all directions, by a series of ever-changing and inescapable mazes. No one goes in the maze for the night and comes out alive. Uh-oh!
This book was my personal happiness on a cracker.
I know that there are a great deal of mixed reviews regarding this series. But I, for one, went out the day after I finished The Maze Runner and purchased the rest of the series. There is something nostalgic about a bunch of kids setting up fort in a place that no one else knows exists. Of course, you must not forget about the Maze holding them prisoner, the evil twitchy Grievers (which I see as enormous and monstrous spiders from Hell), the memory loss, and the constant fear of never getting out alive…
This may not have been the best place to start: but I sometimes had an incredibly hard time picturing the maze. The author, James Dashner, gives up enough clues for me to construct my own little image, but it isn’t as fresh and crisp as other settings.
I get the general idea that they are in the heart center of a crazy elaborate maze full of things that want to eat you, sting you with make-me-go-rabid poison, and absolutely no glowing EXIT signs. There are a few buildings in the clearing where the boys live, which were, according to the narrator Thomas, probably there before anyone actually lived there.
It’s a very minor thing that sort of makes me stop reading, trying to figure out exactly where I am and where I’m going. But, just like going to Manhattan, I got the hang of it pretty quickly and there was plenty more to see along to way!
All the characters in this puppy are pretty much under the age of maybe 18 or 19. Their youngest, I believe is 9 or 10. But seeing that the kids were getting regurgitated out of an elevator shaft that comes out of the ground they live on with absolutely no memory of who they are aside from their first name, everything is sort of assumption or hearsay.
Thomas: The main character and Narrator whom I simply cannot see as anyone but Dylan O’Brien, is the cutest little bundle of absurd intuition and instinct.
Not to spoil anyone’s read, for those who haven’t read the book, I’ll tell you that Thomas is strangely drawn to the most dangerous job amongst all the boys, which is running the Maze. Why is this dangerous? Well, because the Maze opens at Dawn and closes at Dusk. If you don’t get out, you never do. Will I tell you how Thomas fairs the task? Nope. But I can tell you that he’s pretty kick-ass.
Newt: The Second in Command of the Homestead, or in other worlds Assistant Babysitter Extraordinaire. He basically breaks up all the fights, shuts the jerks up, and tells people how it is without a slightest bit of sugar. He’s a lot more severe and harsh in the book than the movie (if you have seen the movie). In the movie he’s basically insta-friends with Thomas. Not true. In fact, no one is insta-friends with Thomas. No one tells hims straight on whats going on, where he is, or why he’s there. The entire Homestead likes to keep their newbies, or in their terms, a Green Bean, in the dark about pretty much everything. Newt is a very big part of that mystery, but I love his accent and his constant snippy attitude that I just want to wrestle to the ground and….
Getting carried away here…
Gally: What a freaking D-bag. However, he had his reasons and in the end I felt incredibly sad for him. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that I can actually say about his character that won’t spoil it, aside from the fact that he hated Thomas and is by far one of his biggest all time members of the “We hate Thomas” Club.
All the other characters were great too. They all had just the right amount of innocence and childishness. Yet, at the same time they were also incredibly weathered and hardened in a way that was, at the end of the day, their only insurance for survival.
A Common Complaint I’ve heard: Show Vs. Tell
I’ve heard a lot of the same complaints when it comes to this series, though the ultimate one was that Dashner is more of a Telling author, rather than a Showing one. I agree with this, though to a certain extent. There was a lot of action in this first book of the series, and that’s really what sucked me in. So that definitely made a lot less room for this showing sort of storytelling we all love to have in our hands.
But let me explain why I think this technique of telling works for this particular novel:
The narrator, Thomas, doesn’t have anything to recall of his past aside from snippets of faceless people, the idea and knowledge of what a home is, what school is, what a car looks like, what normalcy is. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any actual faces to tie these memories to. All his memories, if you can call a picture of an idea in your head memories, are nothing aside from strings in the wind. They have no definition, no roots in his persona. I would find it hard for a character with amnesia to connect to anything that is subliminal or subconscious. I’d imagine that a lot of their feelings, a great deal of those emotions anyway, would stem directly from what they are currently experiencing at hand.
I think for Thomas to show us what is going on within the novel would be incredibly difficult for him. In order to do that he would have to be able to connect with us on a different level, a deeper level that the other characters in the novel cannot. However, how is Thomas supposed to connect with us when he can’t even connect to himself? Think about that, I suppose. The one way he connects with us is by feeding the reader his suspicions. He keeps these to himself mostly, rather than telling the rest of the wayward boys in The Glade. But we have that little nugget, and I cherished that nugget.
From the perspective of someone who thoroughly enjoys the feeling of being sucked into a characters brain waves and latching onto their thoughts and dreams like a creepy little succubus, I still loved the writing style of this telling sort of novel.
So what I’m trying to say is, if you’ve heard this complaint, still give it a try. Kind of like my Mom telling me when I was little to just try a Peirogi, I may love it. Who would have ever though that potatoes and and yummy goodness in a fat noodle could be so terribly delicious while it’s clogging your arteries!? Numz!
I was desperate, I say, desperate to know the outcome of this book. As we follow the kids through their lives on the Homestead, racing through the Maze, and evading death or sometimes meeting it head on, I just can’t wait to figure out why? It was intoxicating as we follow these kids, racing between one clue and another, being forced into action, having to use their own knowledge to crack the Maze’s code.
Seeing these kids in these elements, still fighting to survive, fighting for their right to live was something that really resonated inside of me. A lot of us, me in particular, have lived pretty normal lives. Sure we’ve had pitfalls and set-backs, even some pretty horrible trauma. But reading this made me think of the kids out there stuck in the middle of two nations fighting. It made me remember that kids out there, half my age, hell a quarter my age, are fighting for their lives.
Aside from the deep stuff, these boys have been left here to die or survive. They have no idea by who or what. They don’t know whether they are in a prison, if they’re being punished for transgressions they can’t remember, or if they are simply sick and twisted experiments on human life.
No worries! You get your answers and so do they! Read it. Just READ IT!