The Maze Runner was so fast-paced and action-packed that I felt out of breath just reading it! (I did expect more running though.) Along with a unique premise and a not-mushy insta-love, this book was an enjoyable read (except for the kind-of cliffhanger ugh) and definitely movie-worthy.
Sixteen-year-old Thomas wakes up in a lift that takes him to the Glade, a village of teenage boys who – like Thomas – only remember their first names when they arrived in the Glade. The Glade is enclosed by a maze that changes everyday; at night, Grievers populate the Maze to feast on any unfortunate human that is not back in the Glade. The Gladers have spent the past two years trying to solve the Maze and find their way home, and Runners are delegated to run through the Maze everyday and draw the changing maze patterns. But with the arrival of Thomas comes the last shipment of supplies from whoever’s in charge, as well as the last Glader ever – the first girl. Everything’s changing, and the Gladers have to find their way out before it’s too late.
I definitely have to comment on the similarities between The Maze Runner and Lisa M. Stasse’s The Forsaken, which have been pointed out by others as well: main character wakes up in a messed up, primitive society that’s made up of teenagers; setting is isolated and controlled by some higher-ups; main character leads the rest of the group in search of an escape; friends die (ugh character death); at the end of both books, deeper plots are discovered but are not fully addressed… and basically the books both end in cliffhangers. The feel of the two books are also very similar, but I liked The Maze Runner more than The Forsaken due to the more coherent plotline and the less annoying romance.
Thomas is the typical sci-fi hero who knows that he’s destined to do great things – in this case, be a Runner – and that he can somehow solve all the problems. His voice seems very mature, especially compared to the more primitive speech of the Gladers, who use “shuck” in place of a swear word, “klunk” for poo, and other random and more literal words in place of words we’re used to. Thomas’s relationship with the first girl Glader, Teresa, is kind of insta-love-ish, and they have some weird soulmate powers that, to me, didn’t really seem believable. But at least they didn’t have much time together in this book, which means there’s not a whole lot of gazing into each others’ eyes and stuff.
The lack of mushy romance is a good thing, since there’s so much action going on. Dashner skillfully incorporates dialogue and action to build up the suspense and the tension, and I can see why this book would make an exciting movie.
He took small breaths through his nose; his pumping heart needed oxygen desperately. Could it hear him? Smell him? Sweat drenched his hair, his hands, his clothes, everything. A fear he had never known filled him to the point of insanity.
Still, nothing. No movement, no light, no sound. The anticipation of trying to guess its next move was killing Thomas.
Seconds passed. Minutes. The ropy plant dug into Thomas’s flesh—his chest felt numb. He wanted to scream at the monster below him: Kill me or go back to your hiding hole!
Then, in a sudden burst of light and sound, the Griever came back to life, whirring and clicking.
And then it started to climb the wall.
While I enjoyed the action and the suspense, there are parts of The Maze Runner that bugged me, the cliffhanger being one of them (but that’s my pet peeve!). Character death (which also occurs in The Forsaken) is fine, but some just seem unnecessary and unexpected. There are quite a few loose ends and parts I didn’t fully understand and were never fully explained, such as why the Gladers developed a different language and why Thomas and Teresa have their weird soulmate power. I’m assuming that these will be explained in subsequent books, but it bugs me that some of the things taken for granted by the characters are different, and that difference isn’t properly explained.
The Maze Runner is a suspenseful and thrilling read that kept me engrossed for most of the story. Although there were some aspects that I was a little dissatisfied with, the unique premise and the plethora of action makes this book an exciting experience.