Monday, November 14, 2016

The Maze Runner, #1 by James Dashner

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)The Maze Runner by James Dashner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Maze Runner is a YA sci-fi/survival book. Like so many recent YA books, it takes place in a dystopian society. Here a group of young boys have had their memories wiped and have been placed in a threatening environment by “The Creators.” Their goal is to escape, but, in the meantime, they have to survive, so they develop their own society through which they establish rules and find roles for everyone living there. Their society can be quite brutal.

The book begins with Thomas' arrival. We see this world through his point of view, so we have no idea where he is or where he came from. Thomas is what is called a “greenie,” which is a label for one of the last boys to arrive. Chuck, someone who had arrived a short time earlier, is assigned to Thomas to show him the ropes. Chuck, who is young and excitable, begins to admire Thomas' strength and bravery. It doesn't take long before the roles of leader and follower are flipped.

After Thomas begins to settle, another “greenie” arrives, but this time it's a girl. Here's where I see a weakness in the book. The only girl in the majority of the story is kept in a comma for a long time and, once she regains consciousness, adds a few memories and ideas, but is never a full partner in the search for a way to escape. I'm hoping Teresa becomes more important in the other books in the series, with feelings and goals of her own.

However, the minor boys are intriguing characters. These include Alby, the leader of the colony, Newt, Alby's second in command, and Minho, the leader of the runners. (The runners are the boys who leave the secure section in the middle of the colony to explore the dangerous mazes in the perimeter.) All these boys as well as Chuck have unique relationships with Thomas that keep the story interesting.

I listened to the audio of this book, read by Mark Deakins, and recommend that format. It would make a good listen for a family trip. The narration is done well and the YA plot is straight forward enough understand without any need to flip back and reread sections.

I have not watched the film version, but intend to.

Steve Lindahl – author of Hopatcong Vision Quest, White Horse Regressions, and Motherless Soul

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