The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Delacorte Press
The Maze Runner is a tremendously gripping work of young adult science fiction. Dashner pulled me into it in chapter one and never let go. In terms of literary parallels, I would say that The Maze Runner could best be described as Ender’s Game meets Lord of the Flies.
The character arc of the protagonist Thomas was brilliant. The story begins with Thomas entering a dystopian civilization (called “The Glade”) populated by unsupervised teenage boys. Thomas has no memory of anything prior to that moment. He soon learns that each of the other boys had arrived the same way over a two year period. The Glade sits at the center of a massive and unsolvable maze filled with horrifying and deadly creatures called grievers.
Throughout the story, Thomas’ character is slowly revealed to the reader as it is being revealed to himself. It was very effective. Throughout most of the book, neither the reader nor the character himself really know whether he is the hero or the villain.
The story moves at a blistering pace, barely leaving the reader time to breathe. Dashner has a very crisp and enjoyable writing style, filled with vivid description that puts the reader directly in the middle of the sights, sounds and action. The plot twist at the end took me by surprise. I had thought I had it all figured out…
Parents will like the fact that there was no sexual content and the violence did not achieve the level of gore. The fake profanity was somewhat excessive, though. Instead of using real swear words (which of course would have been worse), Dashner made up a brand new lexicon of fake profanity. He then used it fairly gratuitously, which was a bit distracting at times.
The Maze Runner is a truly great work of YA science fiction – the best I’ve read in a while. I would be very surprised if this book does not become an instant classic of the genre.