The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every thirty days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

As much as I hate to use the expression frequently, my overall observation about The Maze Runner was ‘meh’.

It wasn’t that the premise or the plot was lacking, it was just that I couldn’t be bothered to care about any of the characters.  When Thomas was angry or frustrated I didn’t feel any of those emotions because James Dashner was telling me this rather than showing me.  Moments (that I can’t reveal without spoiling everything) that were supposed to be poignant and depressing didn’t even provoke emotion in me.  Thomas is supposed to become friends with certain members of the Glade and his mysterious past relationship with the girl Teresa was supposed to be touching, but I felt none of that.  It was just boring and I couldn’t emotionally identify with those relationships.

The whole premise of a mysterious maze is a good one, I suppose.  It could have been done better, though.  The air of mystery James Dashner tries to maintain about the maze just ends up being frustrating because Thomas doesn’t know anything and practically none of our questions are answered by the end.  Yes, I know it’s a trilogy but there should be some questions answered.  Some of the things Dashner did to maintain the air of mystery were just plain dumb: none of the boys answered any of Thomas’s questions.  Really, none.  At all.  That’s ridiculous, in my opinion; they should have at least answered basic questions.

Sometimes the plot moved forward at a very fast pace and other times it just dragged on and on, which isn’t a thing to be praised in a book that’s less than 400 pages long.  Sure, Dashner uses mystery to keep up the suspense, but at times his writing was so pared down that I had no idea what was going on.  It’s frustrating when you know an author has pictured everything perfectly in their head but thinks it’s so obvious that they don’t describe the setting to readers.  That’s basically the entire story of The Maze Runner.

I give this book 2/5 stars.

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  1. theairtwit

    Oh no. It seems that I read many mixed reviews on this — either people really enjoy it or they toss an ‘okay rating’ in. I bought the entire set earlier in the year, so I hope I’m not too disappointed by it. Or, if the first book isn’t up to par, I hope the following books improve.

    • Carrie Slager

      I hope you’re not disappointed either! Maybe the second book is better or maybe I’m being a little too critical about a middle grade novel, but the first was kind of a let down after hearing all of that hype. Obviously I didn’t expect anything on the level of Harry Potter, but still.

  2. Jack Flacco

    I’ve heard of this book, and I believe my nephew read it, too. I agree with what you said about pacing. If a book’s pacing is off then it doesn’t make the story worth investing in anymore. I find it difficult to follow when subplots are introduced in the middle of the story, resolve after 20 pages, and the story continues. I can see the writer needed to get a word count in and to do it created a story within a story that could have otherwise been written as a passing sentence. Anyway, I’ll probably still read this, but we’ll see. Thanks for your awesome review!

    • Carrie Slager

      Yes, that’s pretty much what bugs me as well! There are so many little subplots as Thomas tries to find his way around the Glade with the other boys that it can be distracting when you consider the main plot. Most of those subplots didn’t even need to exist, but James Dashner probably had to fulfill a certain word count as you said.

  3. igeekteenbooks

    [Shameless, blatantly self-promoting link removed for insulting my intelligence. Although bonus points for giving me a relevant link. –CS.]

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