“The Maze Runner” by James Dashner (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2009)

Maze Runner
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One of the first books of the dystopian tsunami to come out shortly after The Hunger Games, this first book in the trilogy is an interesting one that does a great job of exploring what a bunch of teenage boys stuck together would be like, how they would act around each other, and what happens to them in dangerous situations.  The Maze Runner is done in the style of Lord of the Flies with a great what if?

Thomas wakes up to find himself in an elevator.  He doesn’t remember anything about his past or how he got where he is; all he remembers is his name.  The elevator reaches its destination and the doors open to reveal a strange world filled with a bunch of teenage boys.  They’ve been here for some time, some at least two years, with no knowledge of how they got there or why.  They have food and shelter provided for them, and each day the mighty gates open up to reveal the maze.  In this society everyone has a job; the runners are the ones who spend their days going around the maze looking for a way out.

It doesn’t take Thomas long to make friends, but also to make enemies, and it’s always a big competition.  Thomas wants to be a runner, but one can’t simply just become one, that is until Thomas makes the decision to help two boys stuck outside at night when the gates close, and there are machines out there and they’re hungry; no one has ever made it back alive overnight.  There’s also the strange fact that a new boy arrives every thirty days, only now for the first time a girl has arrived, and Thomas has a feeling he knows her; he also feels like he’s somehow been to this place before, which just seems impossible.

Dashner does a great job of starting with an interesting idea and building and building on it, to keep the reader completely hooked and wanting to know what’s going to happen next, right up until the very last page.  He also plays around with the dynamic of a bunch of teenage boys living together and making decisions for each other really well, where fights often break out, as boys will be boys.

Originally written on April 9, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

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