Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

A mind-wiped boy wakes up in an elevator that drops him off in a place called the Glade, filled with boys his age all trying to find their way out of a giant maze guarded by monstrous creatures. All he knows is that his name is Thomas – and that he’s destined to be a maze runner.

It’s a premise that reminded me very much of the Canadian cult movie CUBE. Both feature a group of people specially chosen for an experiment. Both feature a very dangerous maze where a wrong move can cost you your life. But where the CUBE victims were ultimately their own worst enemies, the boys of the Glade get along remarkably well. Some boys have been living in the self-contained community for over 2 years, getting by on their own hard work and supplies sent by the mysterious people who put them there. Thomas’ arrival on the scene sets off a terrifying chain of events that will either lead to escape – or the death of every last one of them.

We do a get a peek at the dystopian world behind the maze via violent memories brought back by monster attacks, and the setting of the Glade and the maze itself is lushly and painstakingly described. But it is the action that is in focus here – and boy does it deliver. I have seldom been so drawn in, possessed to keep turning the pages as fast as I could read.

While the pacing and plot are top-notch, “the emotional landscape of the characters could have been more fully developed” (to quote My Friend Amy’s review). When a couple of major characters bite the dust and your only reaction is “meh”, that is not a good sign. (And just so you know I’m not cold hearted, I cried buckets when a certain minor character died in THE HUNGER GAMES ).

Still, I am very excited to read book 2 THE SCORCH TRIALS (thanks evil cliffhanger!) due in October 2010, and I can recommend this to anyone looking for a quick yet completely absorbing read.

THE MAZE RUNNER is available now in hardcover. Find out more about it at the author’s blog or the offical book website.

My rating: 3 Zombie Chickens - Well Worth Reading (NOTE: I'd actually give this an extra half Zombie Chicken - despite it's failure to move me, it really is very good.)


See index of all dystopian reviews on Presenting Lenore

30 comments:

Jeane said...

I'm really itching to read this one someday.

Lana said...

I really enjoyed The Maze Runner - I was very impressed with the plotting/pacing. Although I think you're right regarding emotional involvement. I couldn't figure out what the deal between Thomas and Theresa was, and not in a puzzly good way.

Yan said...

Omigosh I must say I love the zombie chickens!

prophecygirl said...

Great review, and I love the zombie chickens!

*goes to dig out my copy of The Maze Runner*

Beth S. said...

Agree 100% with your reactions.

beth said...

I have this one, and read the first chapter. That first chapter really did not draw me in.

But if everyone says it's good, maybe I should pick it back up.

Alyce said...

There were things about this book that annoyed me (like the slang words), but the plot was good enough that I'll be picking up the sequel. It really was a good read.

Beth F said...

I have it here .... waiting, waiting to be read.

S. Krishna said...

I definitely agree with your review - it was suspenseful, but I wasn't very emotionally involved with the story. Can't wait for the next one though!

~Mary said...

I just bought this one! I'm picking it up tonight. I'm excited about it. I have high hopes. I am hoping I'm not going to be let down. We shall see. Love your review!

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Great review, and I agree with your view of the book! It was entertaining and really suspenful, but I wasn't moved either.

Amy said...

great review! (and not just because you quoted me)
Is CUBE worth watching? Never heard of it.

Marie said...

Thanks for the review- sounds like a good page turner, if not one for hte character-development crowd! :-)

Joanne ♦ The Book Zombie said...

Great review! Definitely gonna check this one out. And now I want to re-watch Cube - it's one of my fave sci-fi movies (the sequels aren't bad either)

Lenore said...

Amy - Joanne thinks it's worth watching! (So do I, despite the bad acting)

Joanne - I've seen Cube 2: Hypercube, but never the 3rd one.

Rhiannon Hart said...

Evil, EVIL cliffhanger. The boys getting along so well I found...odd. But my overall reaction was "like" and "OMG GIVE ME BOOK 2 NOW!!"

Jenny said...

I went to the library today to get this book - even if it's not great, I've heard enough good things about it to make me want to read it - and some little kid got to the bookshelf two seconds before me and took it! Huh. Should've bullied her into giving it to me - eleven-year-olds scare easy. :P

She said...

It was quite a cliffhanger wasn't it?!

bermudaonion said...

Carl read this and felt much the same way you did. He didn't hate it but didn't find himself totally engrossed in it either.

Mrs. B. said...

Sounds interesting. You've got a great blog...am a follower now.

Hazra said...

Reminds me of Hunger Games. I'd love to read it sometime; I've realized that I quite like dystopian fiction.

April said...

Excellent review! I'm still dying to read Maze Runner, but will wait until it is in paperback. I prefer hard back books with characters whom emotionally move me. :-)

Ali said...

We really enjoyed reading this as a family this fall (and I still haven't reviewed it. Bad, bad, Ali). Didn't love the ending.

I actually liked that we weren't so emotionally impacted by the deaths, since I was reading it aloud and I hate when read-alouds make me cry. To me, the point of the deaths was more to give motivation to the main character's actions, than for an emotional punch for the reader, if that makes sense. (But, if I'd been reading it on my own I probably would have said the same thing you and Amy did.)

Lenore said...

Jenny - LOL!

Ali - You make a great point. Not everyone wants to cry. Especially not tween/teen boys I suppose!

Suzanne said...

I enjoyed this book, and I guess I wasn't too hard on the character development aspects that could have been 'more' because it was YA fiction. I didn't like that evil cliffhanger myself... would have enjoyed the book if it ended a page or 2 before then... and I still would have clamored for the next book! I look forward to reading it!

Lisa said...

This sounds really good - and I thought I was the only person on the planet to have seen CUBE! I loved that movie, even though the sequel sucked. Guess this one goes on my wish list.

inthehammockblog said...

Great review, very honest! I've been curious about this one for awhile. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Zibilee said...

I saw this on the new arrivals shelf at my local book store, and had been hoping to come across a review, so this was awesome to read! I think this is a book that would definitely appeal to both my daughter and myself, and now that I know how engrossing it is, I am going to have to snag a copy! Awesome review, I am really glad you loved this one!

Michelle said...

I enjoyed this one. I'm definitely interested to see how it shakes out in the following novels.

Bibliovore said...

I just read this too, and while I felt like it would be a good stopgap for rabid fans of The Hunger Games, I couldn't get invested in this book for its own sake. Also, the girl was always just The Girl.