2013 Reads: One {Maze Runner}

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Well, my reading adventure in 2013 started off on the fast-paced and exciting track with The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

The Maze Runner is yet another dystopian future young adult novel. What? They're really, really popular right now. 

But somehow, this one is different. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the author is male. I don't feel like a lot of the books I've read or that have become popular (particularly in the YA popular genre) being written by men {okay, Rick Riordan, yes}. So that leaves Dashner having a unique and interesting voice. He is very succinct, but not in a way that detracts from the story. And he's very economic with the information he hands out to the reader - you'll know what he wants you to know, when he wants you to know it. You can guess and speculate, but for the most part it's easier to just let the book unfold. 

Maze Runner begins when Thomas wakes up, no real, complete memories, alone in a dark metal box. The only thing he knows for certain is his name. Once the box is opened he steps out into a field surrounded by dozens of other boys. He comes to learn that he has been brought to a place called The Glade - a giant green space with a few buildings and surrounded on all four sides by giant stone walls. What he comes to find out is that the Glade is the center area of a giant maze. 

The boys that live there, or the Gladers as they call themselves, have constructed a miniature society, with each boy having a specific job to do. Some are responsible for the garden and some are responsible for the animals. But the best of the best are called the runners - and it is their job to go out into the maze every morning after the doors open and run it until the evening when the doors close. They're trying to solve the puzzle of the maze, trying to get out. 

Just like Thomas they have no memory of before the Glade and no real idea why they're there. What they do know is they need to survive day-to-day. The doors close every night to keep the Grievers - awful half cow-like animal, half some sort of mechanical beast - out of the Glade. Every thirty days a new boy is brought to the Glade by the metal box and once a week the metal box sends them new supplies. 

They expected Thomas, but the day after Thomas arrived the box sent another person - but this time, the first girl the Glade had ever seen, Teresa. Her arrival, and the message she delivers, changes the game the Gladers had been playing for over two years. The time has come for the Gladers to get out of the Glade. Thomas feels a connection to her, and somewhere inside him knows that he's an important piece to solve the secret of the maze. If only he could remember anything.

Yes, pieces of the book were pretty predictable. But you know what? That really didn't matter to me. Because they weren't the big pieces. They were more the "when are they going to realize x?" And I feel like any book has that in some way more or less. It's still a very original young adult dystopia in a world of dystopian young adult novels. There was plenty of action. There was plenty of time spent trying to sort out Thomas's new world (and dealing with none of the Gladers answering Thomas's questions was almost as obnoxious to me as it was to him!). Dashing does an amazing job building the world of the Glade and the Maze. I was just as scared and disgusted by the Grievers as any one of the boys just under Dashing's first description of them. 

I also loved the secondary characters - Chuck, Alby, Minho, Newt - almost more than I liked Thomas. They're all just as important to the story as Thomas, just not the main protagonist. They're all very bright, athletic, and determined individuals. But what makes them feel real and believable is that they have flaws, just like any real person. Chuck talks too much. Alby is bossy. Newt has a limp. Minho has a temper and is impulsive. 

The only thing that annoyed me a little was the Glade-speak - basically Dashner created his own swears (Clunk and Shucking) so his boys could swear. What annoyed me, at first, was that I had no idea what the words meant. But then again, neither did Thomas. You know, Dashner providing information when he wants you to have it, not when you want it. Then, after I learned their meanings, I was annoyed with just how much the boys used them. And then, I wasn't annoyed. It was endearing -  because it made sense that teenage boys put in that sort of situation (or, basically, without adults around them) would be swearing their heads off just because they can. Right?

Dashner really created an excellent opening novel of a series. I was a little disappointed in the ending 0- because there was quite the cliff hanger (thank God I can just get the whole series now and I don't have to wait!). So, it could never be a stand alone novel, which is my biggest complaint with books in a series.  But still, I'm intrigued, I want to know what happens and how it happens (and I've already started the second audio book!)!  This book did not disappoint.

Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Medium: Audio Book (CD)
Disk #: 9
Date Read: 1 January 2013
First Line: He begins his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and and stale, dusty air. 
Favorite Line: Maybe you should just push the button. [whited out, for spoiler's sake]
Recommended: Totally. This was an exciting and fast paced read (listen?) that kept me hooked on every word.
Recommended For: Middle School +, Dystopian lovers, YA lovers, End-of-the-World Fears,
Source: Library Rental
Challenges: Goodreads

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