The Maze Runner by James Dashner is recommended for fans of the Hunger Games series, and while I wanted to read this book that marketing line made me a bit nervous because (please don’t kill me) I didn’t like the first book of the Hunger Games series that much. It’s a great book, I love Katniss and Peeta, but it is an overused, cliché idea, the whole dystopian society that forces children to kill each other. I can name two movies that were made before the writing of the book that have a similar basis, and while they are obscure, I had seen them before I read the books. So I was really worried that this book would feel overused as well. Nope!!
So the main character’s name is Tom…and immediately I thought, “Didn’t I read this book to get away from Tom? And also, what is it with me and reading books with male protagonists? My next To-Read series also features a male protagonist…” But I like this Tom/Tommy/Thomas as much as I do Tom Ward (from The Last Apprentice Series). Thomas is smart, strong, and never gives up. I think that is what I liked best about him. He is the newcomer and when everyone else is giving up he refuses to stop hoping and trying. And thus…saves the day! Yay!
Dashner is kind of a genius. What makes this story work so well is that the character we see this world through knows about as much as we do. All we know is this kid’s name is Thomas and he is in some deep klunk, to use the book lingo… You have to figure things out from scratch, piecing clues together as you go along. And while some questions are eventually answered by others in the maze, some questions are never fully answered like: if this is all a test, and only the fittest win, what are the fittest expected to do? Cure the world? Because if I was one of those kids I would say, “Um, no thanks world! You used me as a guinea pig, and killed some of my friends. I’ll save myself.”
I also loved the bits of humor thrown in to lighten the mood. Thank goooooodness. Even though this book was suspenseful and bad things happened, it was nowhere near as dark as the Delaney books. Which was exactly what I needed.
One further glorious accomplishment is the lingo. Now…I tend to hate futuristic lingos. I read Feed by M.T. Anderson and holy bananas does that have a lingo that makes your head spin. When they first pull Thomas out of the Box they are calling him things like ‘Greenie’ and ‘Greenbean’ and saying words like ‘klunk’ and ‘shuck-face’. So at first your head is spinning with words you don’t know, and no one will answer any dang questions, and it’s frustrating!! But it’s exactly how Thomas feels, and when he starts getting a hang of the lingo, so does the reader. Brill. Completely brill. This is totally unlike Feed. (I just have to rag on that book for a sec…) So in Feed the main character is already part of the world, he understands the lingo, as do all those around him. As a result I never fully got what all the words meant! It was highly frustrating, drew me out of the story, and made me dock the book two stars. So I was really excited when this book was completely different. Lingo WIN, Mr. Dashner.
Holy flying monkeys hurling fire balls does this book absolutely deserve a five out of five! My mind would not shut up after finishing this book. What is the next test? Will they pass it? Who else is going to die? What happens after they win that test? Obviously I need to go grab the sequel: The Scorch Trials…
Also…The Maze Runner is getting made into a movie…awesome. Check out this photo from Entertainment Weekly Online: