BOOK REVIEW: The Maze Runner – by James Dashner

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Title: The Maze Runner
(The Maze Runner #1)
Author: James Dashner
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: October 6th 2009
Finished reading: June 26th 2014
Pages: 375

Rating 3

“Where are we going?” Thomas asked, still feeling the weight of seeing those walls close, thinking about the maze, the confusion, the fear. He hold himself to stop or he’d drive himself crazy. Trying to grasp a sense of normalcy, he made a weak attempt at a joke. “If you’re looking for a goodnight kiss, forget it.”

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Before I start, I have to confess that I started reading this book having very, very high expectations. I even put on hold other books that were next on my TBR list so I could read The Maze Runner first… And that might have influenced my opinion in a negative manner. People have compared this book to The Hunger Games series, and to be honest I cannot see the similarities. The main character Thomas lacked personality and the made-up slang and language used by the teenagers was actually quite annoying. The story itself is interesting enough though. In The Maze Runner, James Dashner presents us to a post apocalyptic world where a bunch of teenagers have to find their way out of a maze. None of them have any idea of how they arrived in the new world called the Glade in the first place, and they all suffer from memory loss. And that part is where I raised my eyebrows: the memory loss and lack of information mostly seemed forced and therefore not credible. I was still able to enjoy the story though, and will probably read the sequel The Scorch Trials somewhere in the future…

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We get to know the post apocalyptic world through ‘Greenbean‘ Thomas, the newest teenager to arrive to the Glade. He wakes up inside the Box (similar to an elevator), and doesn’t remember anything. The other boys welcome him to the Glade, but are being quite mysterious about the new world and evade answering his questions. Thomas is simply told to ‘shuck it‘ and wait until tomorrow. The other new kid Chuck is ordered to take care of him, and they soon start a friendship. Thomas finds himself feeling more at home already, and realizes things around the Glade sound and feel quite familiar…

Soon it becomes clear that Thomas had arrived at the wrong moment. For the last two years the Glade had been populated with boys only, and once a month the Box sent a new member to the Glade. Those days are over now. The next day the Box surprised the community and sends another member, and everybody is shocked to see that it is an unconscious girl.  Before she’s taken away in a coma, she wakes up briefly to let everybody know that “everything is going to change”. And she was right, as she was the last one the Creators sent to help solve the maze. Things are starting to change quite a lot for the Gladers during the next days. They try to maintain order, with everybody doing the jobs they were assigned and the Runners trying to find a way out of the maze. But soon the maze and the horrible creatures called Grievers start taking their victims. Due to circumstances I won’t discuss because of spoilers, Thomas becomes a Runner. Together with the leader of the Runners Minho, they desperately try to solve the puzzle and find a way out before it’s too late…

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The plot itself is definitely interesting, and that is mostly why I’m probably going to read the sequel. That and the fact that I already own the next two books… I do hope the character development gets better though, as well as the prose. I’m not saying to leave out the slang completely, but maybe toning it down a bit will make it less annoying. Recommended for those who enjoy YA post apocalyptic stories and prefer a good plot over well-developed main characters.

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17 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: The Maze Runner – by James Dashner

  1. I was underwhelmed by this entire series. I thought the concept was great but the execution was meh. The slang killed me! KILLED. ME. I was ready to burn this by the time I was done. Sadly, I won’t be reading the prequel, even though I own it. Oh well. I think the movie version will kick ass, though.

    Great review 😉

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    • Totally agree, the concept itself is really interesting and made me want to read this book straight away… But the lack of personality and the slang really annoyed me to no end. Seriously what does it add to the story to make the teenagers say ‘good that’ instead of ‘got that’ and repeat it a thousand times over? And then we’re not even talking about all the ‘shuck’ and ‘shank’ Dashner threw in every other phrase. Not cool. The movie version probably has way more potential though, and I will be watching it for sure. Thanks! 😀

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    • I think that with just leaving out the slang, I would have enjoyed The Maze Runner way more… The story had a lot of potential. I’ve heard the sequel The Scorch Trials is not as good as the first one, but I might read it anyway some day.

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  2. I read this awhile back. and I do remember liking this, one, but the sequels fell short to me. I agree about Thomas he was very bland. I enjoyed the secondary characters much better. Great Review!

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    • You’re not the first one to mention that the sequels aren’t as good as The Maze Runner. It makes me wonder if it’s worth it to read the sequel at all. And I agree that the secondary characters have more personality than Thomas; a shame because if Thomas would have had a stronger personality, the book might have been better… And thanks! 🙂

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  3. This book passed my way a lot so far. I was always unsure if I should read it or if this would be an enormous waste of time. Now, after reading your review, I’m pretty curious and I think I will just try it. Thank you for ceasing my shakiness. 🙂

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    • It’s quite an easy read if you’re not bothered by the use of slang and flat characters… The story itself is quite interesting. And you’re welcome, tell me what you think of it when you decide to read it! 🙂

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    • Thanks! There are a lot of better dystopian YA books out there for sure, but this one still is interesting enough to read if you have some spare time. The best thing is not having too high expectations before you start; you might enjoy the book more. 😉

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  9. Great review, love how you brought up the language used. For some reason it reminded me of The Great Gatsby, when Gatsby keeps calling everyone “sport”. For me it made it seem more real, as language changes depending on the place. It also reminded me of Lord of the Flies (one of my all-time favourite books) how the boys were all stranded in this foreign yet familiar place and they made up their own rules and such to maintain order and create their own society.

    I can totally sympathize with a book being over-hyped and then being disappointed. Many books unfortunately fell victim to that trend for me as well. Hopefully you will enjoy the rest of the series!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Somehow I didn’t mind the use of ‘sport’ that much in The Great Gatsby… When I was reading The Maze Runner back then the whole ‘shuck’ thing just got on my nerves, but who knows, I might enjoy it way better now I’m more familiar with the whole YA dystopian genre. And yes, this is a lot like Lord Of The Flies! I read that classic only after reading The Maze Runner, but there are definitely a lot of similarities…

      I’m probably going to to a reread before I read the rest of the series. Hopefully now the hype has gone away a bit and I know what to expect, I will end up enjoying the series way better than before.

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