Book Review: THE MAZE RUNNER #1, James Dashner.

Long time no see! In the interim of my last post, I’ve been busy live-tweeting Australia’s Bachelor and working very hard, and also, most importantly, reading! I’m a little behind on my reviews, so I’m going to do my best to catch up.

51qmykfrgpl-_sx331_bo1204203200_The Maze Runner #1
, James Dashner.
Series: The Maze Runner.
Pages: 375 pages.
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult.
Publisher: Delacorte Press.
ETCAmazonGoodreads.
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Summary:

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

Thanks to Goodreads for the summary.

Please be aware there will be spoilers in this review.

One thing you need to know about me is that I absolutely love the concept of mazes. I can’t quite tell you why. I love the story of Ariadne in the labyrinth, and when I bought The Maze Runner years ago, it was for my fascination with them.

The Maze Runner has an interesting concept. It’s a story based inside of a maze, and, from what I had gathered from friends speaking of the books to even engaging in fandom-like activities with fans of the series, I thought it would all take place inside of a maze. This book does, but as I understand it, perhaps the rest of the series doesn’t.

The maze is very important in this series. It’s the defining barrier between being imprisoned and being free. These young men who are trapped in the Glade need to fight with the Maze to find answers and their own way home. But the Maze has other ideas for them, as it’s controlled by a group known as WICKED.

Despite the concept being interesting, I found the execution to be boring. We spent little time in the maze. Thomas drops into the Glade, and it makes sense as to how the boys react to him. He’s new, he’s strange, he’s an unknown. But there’s something ultimately strange about Thomas, which Gally, a character who’s framed to be the big bully of the story, doesn’t quite stay silent on.

I can’t quite say I enjoyed the twist of Thomas’ character and how he fit into the Maze. Thomas immediately had a knack for maze running, had gotten into the good books with the leader of the Glade, Alby, and seemed to be a boy who was respected despite having been in the Glade for only a few days. Thomas was hardly likeable, and if this was the author’s intention, he did a good job. But I know Thomas was meant to be liked, and I found him insufferably obnoxious and all together not someone I could relate to. He was just too special; he didn’t really want for anything, despite thinking and treating other characters rather poorly.

When Teresa, the only girl to ever be present in the Glade, drops in, things become predictable. There’s a draw between Thomas and her, and while the tether that exists between them is rather interesting, the way it’s built up in the book leaves it dull. Teresa is a character we see nothing of. She’s in a coma for a good portion of the first half of the book, and then she remains on the outskirts for the rest. She’s hardly present, despite being a significant piece to the puzzle, and an anomaly in the Glade’s life.

I wish we got to see the other boys interacting with Teresa. I understand it’s Thomas’ story, but there was so little interaction between anyone shown in the book. It was rather fast, with everything escalating with each chapter, and very little time to sit down and learn someone’s favourite colour. While I understand that this sets the tone, it didn’t make me feel rather invested.

I found it difficult to attach myself to any character. Thomas didn’t spend enough time getting to know any of them, and while he spent the least with Alby, I would have to say he was the one I was most interested in, as he had his own opinion. The book would’ve done better at sucking me in if we spent more time with these kids, and learned more about them. I didn’t feel any connection with them, and didn’t particularly care too much of who everyone was.

I wish we had gotten to know more about the other Gladers in this first edition, because I feel like the book would’ve been more of an emotional punch if I had had time to invest myself in these characters instead of being expected to simply care.

Each chapter ended on a predictable cliffhanger that was obviously designed to keep me turning the page. I understand that this is a technique implemented by authors to keep the reader moving forward, but it was just too formulaic for me to not know that that was the intention of its placement in the story. Sometimes I felt like the cliffhangers had no ties to the actual events of what had transpired. I wasn’t sucked into this world and kept turning the pages for the sake of that. I simply kept turning the pages so I could finish this book.

I did find myself curious as to why Thomas and Teresa were telepathic. I found it to be odd to have two characters able to talk to one another through telepathy, and found it to be oddly placed in a book that hadn’t hinted anything outside of technological advancement being the main enemy. The entire universe had been as plain and boring as day, and once Teresa was dropped into the Glade, suddenly we had a supernatural element I found didn’t quite fit into what had already been established. I think the telepathy could have been excluded and we could’ve had more scenes with Thomas and Teresa interacting face-to-face. I found being told through the telepathy and it simply existing that they had a special bond to be lazy; we could’ve been shown how they interact with one another, with Teresa standing close to Thomas, Thomas always looking at Teresa, etc. and have that strengthen my belief in their pre-existing relationship.

The WICKED members were not particularly interesting or frightening, and for a group that was capable of tossing this many boys into a maze, they weren’t particularly smart, either. I found myself more threatened by what was found in the Glade than the people responsible for it coming to be. The whole concept of the maze, once it was revealed, was scary in itself, and I did like that the maze existed as an experiment for an otherwise bigger issue. The robots were carrying a disease the WICKED scientists wanted to find a cure for, and that made the entire maze’s concept sinister, as boys were sacrificed and lost their lives for a cause they didn’t quite understand. But it couldn’t save the story for me.

The world-building left too much to be desired. The language the boys created was an interesting element that went nowhere. The fact they named themselves and had no recollection of their previous lives is most likely a pivotal point in the future installments of the books, but I found it remained untapped here, and I wish that it hadn’t been. There were too many holes in this book for me. Why had it taken until Thomas’ appearance for shit to hit the fan? Why had WICKED not tried to push the boys into moving in the direction they wanted a lot sooner?

I can’t say I’ll be continuing the series. I found it boring and predictable, and it took me too long to get through because I did everything I could to avoid reading it. I’m sure the next two instalments will answer my questions: Why were only boys placed into this maze? Why was Teresa the only girl? Why did Thomas and Teresa create the Maze? How can they speak telepathically to one another? Why did it take until Thomas’ arrival for anything to get sorted and answered?

You can find my rather quick review on Goodreads.

 

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