10 October 2011

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

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 30 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.

This book wasn't bad. It was a little light on character, but the good plot made up for it. Thomas is a little over-powered for my taste: everything he tries he does right, he figures out all the problems without much help from other people, he is essentially the key to everything and you get the impression that if he had a few more weeks he could have done everything alone. This leads to a non-investment problem: when most of the characters die I felt rather detached, as if they were ants instead of people, and I don’t think it quite had the tension impact the author wanted. Or this could be an issue of the only female, Teresa, being little more than just a plot driver and not a fully developed character. Since I tend to identify strongly with female characters it could be that I couldn’t get into watching the boys develop because the one girl was so flat.

If you can ignore the slight superhero problem, though, the mystery is engrossing. Dashner has set up a very clever problem for the boys, and his pacing and plot twists are artful. I won’t spoil how the plot is solved, but it was set up well with building blocks and not one big lightning-bolt exposition that made it rather unbelievable. The ending also makes it pretty clear that all we have is one small slice of the puzzle, and the puzzle is clever enough that I’ll go along for the ride and see if I can’t get more invested in the characters later.


  1. I agree wholeheartedly. I enjoyed reading the Maze Runner (and the Scorch Trials). The pacing was brilliant, the plot unique and interesting, but I wish the characters were more developed in both books. Still, I can't wait to read the third in the series. I'm dying to find out what happens next. Dashner really knows how to keep me on the edge of my seat.

  2. Perfect description of the book. I've read it and The Scorch Trials. The story is so interesting I'm willing to overlook some of the faults. Seemed that we developed Chuck much more than many of the other characters. That makes sense due to what happens to him, but even he wasn't developed to my taste. I'll still be picking up the next one to find out what happens.