The Maze Runner
Delacorte Press (2009)
The Long and Short:
A very male centric dystopia with great world building, but less the impressive characters and writing style. I wasn't expecting anything too profound, so I wasn't disappointed when it scratched only two layers of skin.
I could have done this in one sitting, but life interfered. I was not expecting much, and I got a very little bit more than that.
There were a couple of things that were quite well done, such as the amnesia angle. The terror and confusion of knowing almost nothing but your own name (only to find out later that you don't even have *that*), and the kind of oppressive feeling of living in such a fake world, knowing that you're always being observed and there's always the reliable threat of Grievers. So the world building is more than good.
I also liked the Maze "language" the boys have since it adds to the disorienting off kilter feel of being tossed into the maze. The strange made up terms seem to annoy a lot of my friends who've read it, but then I'm a linguistics student, so I appreciate those kinds of things.
The plot is simple: get out of the maze and find out what the hell is going on. That is the biggest propelling force in this book. Dashner has a flair for ending his rather short chapters with cliff-hanger/sensational statements so that you *have* to start the next one. He always has you wanting to know what happens next, even at the expense of pace and characterization. That is the biggest problem with this book; aside from Newt and Minho and even Chuck, everyone else is pretty one dimensional. Thomas is just too much of the perfect hero to really appreciate, and Teresa seems to be there merely for decoration and plot movement, which is a crying shame, as she's the only female in the book.
Another thing, of a very spoilery nature *you've been warned* I was incredibly upset that when we finally get a chance to experience the Change through Thomas, it all happens off page. WHAT. We're told over and over and over how awful the Change is, then we don't even get to experience it. Utterly robbed. He just gets up, none the worse for wear, wipes his hands of the mess and more or less says, "well now that's done with, lets call a meeting and let me tell you what all this maze business is about, shall I?". Yeah, was really not happy about that. It didn't help endear me to Thomas' super speshulness either. /Spoiler.
Other annoying things are the "not telling you things you need to know" attitude by *every*one in the book. This is where Dashner's need to keep the chapters exciting and short force the tension to be stretched out in a frustrating way. I also had a problem with Thomas and Teresa being the centre of everything. I understand them being catalysts, but Thomas seems to be the only one able to do anything right. There's so much potential in the supporting cast, but they're forced to the background to let Thomas shine in stead of being full characters in their own right. Which sucks even more since I found Thomas to be not all an interesting or sympathetic character. I may also just lack an imagination equipped with a bestiary - I couldn't for life of me figure out what the Grievers were supposed to look like, and so they ended up being much less scary than they could have been.
I'm happy I read it before I see the movie, and while I enjoyed it for the most part, I ain't gonna rush out and buy the sequel either. I'll get to it eventually.
Context Free Quote:
n/a - unfortunately, this book lacked any standout phrases or moments for me. A sign, that.