I watched The Maze Runner (2014), for the first time, over a year ago. It was the kind of film I enjoyed but didn’t join any cults for – know what I mean? So, when I saw an old copy of the book in a thrift store a couple of months ago I thought “why not?”
Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
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.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
Remember. Survive. Run.
This was a read I’d put off for a short time after actually getting hold of the book – having already experienced the plot, I wasn’t intimidated by it. The story opens with our ‘hero’ Thomas emerging into a new world full of fear and questions. What’s nice about this beginning part is that we start of with the same awareness of what’s going on as he does. Unfortunately one of the things I didn’t like so much was that this didn’t continue throughout the rest of the book. More than once the plot progressed as a result of Thomas ‘conveniently’ remembering a key piece of information and readers were expected to just accept this. It would’ve been nicer (for me at least) to piece together the things with the characters and really experience the maze as if it were a riddle.
Actually, for a plot driven novel, an awful lot of the progression relied on convenience which would’ve been great if it was done in favour of character development but, alas, it seems that wasn’t the case. It was hard to feel connected to any of the characters as they were all very basely drawn out for us. As a female reader I was fine with reading a book about a group of boys but I’ll admit I was disappointed by Teresa’s character and influence on the plot. As the only female character it would’ve been nice for her to have been more of a ‘force to be reckoned with’ kinda influence but perhaps that development was being saved for the sequel?
Another bone of contention for me was the ease at which they seemed to solve a problem that had (apparently) been unsolvable in over 2-Years. *POSSIBLE LIGHT SPOILERS* The maze’s solution in the film was actually more complex than its resolution in the book and I applaud the film makers for that. For me, It was a completely necessary adjustment. Jumping through a hole and punching in a code is way too simple for me, though perhaps I am being overly critical. The burning of the maps had the potential to throw some real drama in the mix but given that it lasted for a page and a half before being ‘conveniently’ surpassed it seems kind of pointless that it was included at all. *END OF SPOILERS*
What I really liked about the story was the ‘big-brother’ relationship that develops between Thomas and Chuck – it’s endearing an was an emotive part of the narrative. It would’ve been nice if Dashner had made more of this and really grappled with some real emotion. What was difficult about the relationship between Thomas and everything around him, was that he never seemed to really feel anything. We’re forever being told that he’s feeling this, that and the other but he never seems to fully experience anything. Dashner had a real showing opportunity when he wrote that Thomas would experience ‘the changing’ and honestly, it seems a bit wasted.
The concept was really good. I liked the idea that we were as in the dark as the Gladers were and the climax, whilst potentially too simple, leads well into the second novel. Another little touch I thought was nice was the addition of new colloquialisms and expressions. The Gladers saying things like ‘Shuck-face’ became very natural by the end and was a cute way to isolate the Gladers a little more, making them a tribe of their own and distinct from the creators.
Overall, I found it to be a solid YA dystopian novel with an anti-climatic ending and under-developed characters. What I’m saying is, it was good, but I’ve read better. That being said, I’m still glad I picked it up and would recommend it to more fervent readers of the YA genre as I feel maybe it was just a little simple for my tastes. I didn’t dislike it but it wasn’t one I connected with, nor one I’d read again. I think I’ll read the sequel though – Dashner’s story has me intrigued…
2 out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
If you have any other suggestions or insights feel free to message me or leave them in the comments section below!
– Cat –