I read The Maze Runner on a recommendation from Amanda. She had read it after finishing the Hunger Games trilogy (this book is first in a trilogy also). I picked up this audio book from the library and spent my time walking to/from work, slack time in the car, and evenings watering the grass listening to it on my phone.
The book follows a teenage boy named Thomas as he wakes up in a metal box, with no possessions and no memory. When the box opens Thomas finds himself surrounded by other teenage boys who are living in the center of a large expansive maze. Then everything unfolds from there. How did they get there? Who put them there? Why can’t the boys remember anything? Where is the exit to the maze?
Overall I enjoyed the book. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Good Reads. The suspense and story line worked very well together. I liked the way that Dashner would describe the way that people looked as they displayed their feelings through their expressions. ”…Newt’s smile was humorless…” That helped me to connect with the emotional state of the characters as they weighted their decisions. As Amanda says, we are given a small area of knowledge and then it is expanded through the telling of the story. It was slow going at first as we are brought up to speed along with Thomas. The boys that precede Thomas in the Maze would continually respond to his questions with prickly retorts such as “Well that’s a stupid shuck question” or “Don’t you think we would have thought of that?” They did this so many times I verbally spoke to my phone “Come on, get on with it already!”
Once Thomas’s questions start getting answered then the story starts unfolding. Amanda said she felt “like a teenage boy” reading the book, and that the book dangled into the horror genre. The book did feel more adolescent than previous books I’ve read and even when dealing with death seemed to cover it in a video-game-world, not-really-real type of manner.[THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD]
The main antagonist in the book is the Grievers. They were the mysterious, murderous sentries of the maze. Come into contact with them and you’re stung at best, dead at worst. This probably was the main detractor for me. The way the Grievers were described was that they were some sort of amalgamation of machinery, instrumentation and flesh. But, honestly, when they were described I kept thinking of Chet from Weird Science.
The way they were described was ominous, but was too nebulous to be able to cause any sort of fear in me. They sound like un-oiled tractors. Oh, and they have needles. And saws. And they stink. And climb walls. Really?
The Gladers, the boys inhabiting the maze, were an interesting lot. Listening to the audio book helped give each of them personality, and some of them accents. Newt, was Scottish, while Alby had a country twang to his voice. Minho, the keeper of the Runners, who was probably my favorite character after Thomas, had an Asian or Hawaiian accent.
When the workings of the glad were being described, and the fact that there were only pre-teen and teen boys represented, I fully expected a Lord of the Fliesesque descent into a split-faction civil war caused by Thomas’s arrival. But that didn’t happen. There was no conch, no Piggy. And all the boys kept the party line and did their chores. Very peculiar indeed. Did losing their memories cause these boys to be super compliant? The book finally explains that all the boys in the Glade were “chosen” and are “special”. I suppose that explanation fits, but it was difficult to see such a perfect community form from kids, even special ones.
I plan on finishing out the trilogy to see how this “World In Catastrophe” plays out. And it’s good to see that there is a movie in development.