Monday, March 26, 2012

The Maze Runner by James Dashner


"When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas can remember is his first name. But he’s not alone. He’s surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade, an encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible maze.

Like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they came to be there, or what’s happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything to find out – even the Grievers, half-machine, half-animal horrors that hunt the Maze’s walled corridors."

This young adult dystopian novel follows a young teenage boy, Thomas, as he finds himself in a strange place surrounded by a mysterious and extensive maze. He, like the other boys there, has no recollection of his past, his family, his home. 

The boys have created their own 'society', designating jobs for each person to ensure they survive and everything runs smoothly. They've been trapped here for two years, exploring the Maze during the day in a desperate attempt to figure it out and escape, and seeking refuge inside the Glade at night when the large stone walls leading out to the Maze shut to keep out the Grievers - terrifying creatures that appear to be a mix of animal and machine with sharp pins and weapons jutting out all over their bodies, prepared to attack and kill.

But everything they know changes. And they are forced to risk their lives to find the solution to the Maze if they want to survive.

I'm not particularly fond of Thomas, the protagonist, as he didn't seem to be a very defined character or have a strong voice, but this was understandable as he was new to the Glade and didn't have much knowledge of what was happening. But I still admired his bravery, his selflessness and his loyalty to his friend, Chuck. 

While the book begins with a very slow pace, where the reader is just as incredibly confused as Thomas about the Glade, the Maze, and the language used by the boys, it soon becomes fascinating, as you discover more and more about their world. Dashner uses an interesting technique of withholding information and releasing it gradually as the story progresses. Some people didn't enjoy this, believing it to be an ineffective way of moving the plot, but I absolutely loved it. It was different. I really felt like I was with Thomas the whole way, driven by our paralleled curiousity about the world that Dashner crafts.

All in all, I became terrified of the Grievers, curious about the Maze, attached to certain characters (Minho!) and captivated by the complexity and mystery of their world. If you love dystopia, adventure, mystery and don't mind intensely creepy creatures, you'll love this novel. I couldn't put it down, and finished it in two days.

Verdict:  4/5

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