The Maze Runner

If Lord of the Flies merged with The Hunger Games, and you threw in a dash of The City of Ember, it would look something like James Dashner’s The Maze Runner.

The Maze Runner begins with Thomas waking up in an elevator-like contraption, boys taunting him from above. He only remembers his name, but that’s how all the boys arrive in The Glade, what they call their large, open grassland surrounded by stone walls. They don’t know how they got there, why they’re there, or how to leave, but but they do know that once a month they get a new, male resident.

The walls surrounding The Glade have stone doors that open themselves at dawn and close at dusk. Outside its walls, The Glade is surrounded by mazes that change every day and monsters that come out at night. The boys spend their days running through the maze, trying to find an escape, but everything changes when a girl arrives in The Glade just a day after Thomas, calling his name.

The Maze Runner was a good book, but it’s harder to talk about a good book than a bad one. It wasn’t amazing enough for me gush; it wasn’t bad enough for me to berate. It was good. I liked it. I’ll read the rest in the series. It didn’t blow me away.

What The Maze Runner has going for it is mystery and pulse-pounding action. The maze and monsters are a bit absurd, but why are they there, who is controlling them, and how can the boys beat them? Dashner does a good job of giving a little bit of information, but enough to prompt questions and keep up the curiosity and creepiness of The Glade.

The Lord of the Flies-like governing is also something the book has going for it, but it could’ve been fleshed out more. It’s good seeing the boys assign themselves jobs – cooks, maintenance, housekeeping, maze runners – and there are definite leaders. There are also Jack-like (Lord of the Flies reference!) characters that seem like they’d snap someone’s neck because they were bored, but this all could’ve been better. Give me more in-fighting, some suicidal, confused boys, and a lot of paranoia.

I think it all boils down to lack of character development. Thomas seems to just whine and demand answers from boys who can’t give them. The Jack-like characters are hostile and not very interesting. And the girl who arrives is sick the whole time so she offers nothing. I don’t expect magic from amnesiac teens, but there could’ve been more to help move along the story.

So it’s a good book and I’ll read the next in the series. The ending, that did answer some questions, has me very skeptical, so I need to know what happens next. I just hope that we get more from the characters in the rest of the series than we got here.

I'm an avid reader and librarian in the Twin Cities who loves to read almost everything but mysteries. If someone gets killed in the first chapter and a detective has to figure out who did it, that's not for me. My recent favorite obsessions are post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. If you have any suggestions, shout them out.

There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Laura (Booksnob) at 1:29 pm

    This is on my TBR list. My son got it free from the library program last summer. I have so many other books to read so I am not sure when I will tackle it. I think I will read Patrick Ness first. On a side note, I got and ereader and so now I always have a teen read going on it. I just got the Scipio races and can’t wait to read it.

    • LeAnn Suchy Author at 2:33 pm

      @Laura (Booksnob), You’ll have to let me know what you think about Scorpio Races (or I’ll maybe see a review on your blog?). I stopped reading that one. It wasn’t grabbing me. Let me know if I should start again.

  2. hana at 11:40 am

    well i’ll be darned! i’d just finished The Scorpio Races and am halfway through The Maze Runner, only pausing to google if anyone else felt the Lord of the Flies + The Hunger Games in it too. (btw, i also felt like i’m not getting much from the characters, same thoughts you have here really!)

    anyway, re: Scorpio Races, i almost gave up a few chapters in, the pace was too slow. but things picked up somewhere in the middle (i persevered – can’t bear to leave off a book with such high rating without giving it another chance), and i actually felt, hmm, involved, with the characters, the setting, and yes, the romance, which was also a slow burn (i polled my husband, which kind of romance he prefers – subtle and restrained, or overly-passionate and all-consuming – and he, as did i, chose the former). anyway, yeah, i was surprised to find myself still having lingering feelings for the characters after finishing the book, although by all means it wasn’t a great story or anything. i think it’s a lot more about the humans and their relationships with each other, vis a vis the strange water horses that are seemingly central to the story.

    hey, i hope i didn’t yap on too much here, anyway good review of TMR! i’ll be trudging along the chapters now. :)

    • LeAnn Suchy Author at 10:10 am

      Hey, Hana! You may have just made me reconsider trying to read Scorpio Races again. It was just so slow for me. I’ll have to try to jump into it again some time…though my to-read list is so long right now, who knows when that will be!

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