The second movie just released and I have to admit it was one of those times where I watched the movie before reading the book. Luckily the movie was so well done that I knew The Maze Runner Series was the new YA dystopia series I had to read, and the first book in the series definitely did not disappoint! (of course, I will be doing a review on the complete series as soon as I finish it but I needed to share my thoughts on the first book right now).
I am the type of reader who will read a bunch of books at the same time simply because my mood and reading preference changes every day, but I could not put The Maze Runner down. As I’d watched the movie before the book I started off comparing the characters in the book to those in the movie (come on admit it we all do), but right off the bat I was so enthralled by the book that the characters in the book were the only ones in my mind (even though I have to say the casting and portrayal of the characters in the movie are pretty spot on, especially for Newt). For me, it’s the characters that make this book, the story has it’s twists and is exciting, but it’s the characters that made me want to write this review.
For those of you who have been living under a rock and have no idea what The Maze Runner is, here’s a quick breakdown (without giving away anything of course). The story starts with a boy, Thomas, waking up in a steel box which soon deposits him into a strange place called The Glade that is surrounded by a huge Maze, with a bunch of teenage boys. The Gladers (as the boys living in The Glade call themselves) start suspecting Thomas of being the cause of all kinds of bad things that start to happen in The Glade from the day he arrives but like all the others, Thomas has not recollection of his life before waking up in the steel box. The Gladers all know that they had normal lives before they came to The Glade, but they have been left with only selective memories, and none about their previous lives. When an unconscious girl arrives in the box and strange things start to happen in The Glade putting every life in danger, Thomas realises that their only way to survive is to get out and to face the Creators who placed them there head on.
The story is something between Hunger Games and Divergence, but with a boy as the lead and honestly it is refreshing (as anti-feminist as that might sound, it’s the truth). In trying to make girl protagonists strong (and not a whimpering Bella Swans) many YA novels have created characters that seems so introspective that they are irritating, Thomas is the exact opposite. He is strong, I mean he is still a guy, but he is also human, and that goes for every character in The Maze Runner. The willingness of the author to allow the boys to show emotion, at times even cry, was refreshing to me as a reader and made them much more real in a setting as far reserved from my own as possible. Thomas and his friends reminded me of my brother and cousin, who are just a little bit older than the boys in the book, and I loved the show of masculinity combined with the truly boy-language and nicknames (Zart the Fart, I mean really).
Dashner uses a sneaky play on words to disguise what could really be swear words in the book. Words such as klunk instead of shit and schuk instead of… well you get it, are used. At first I found it slightly irritating, but after a few pages I actually thought it was a brilliant way to give a true depiction of how teenage boys speak, but keep the language in the book clean enough for a YA audience.
Like most YA novels The Maze Runner reads really simply, but what I liked most were the short chapters. It almost made me read faster as I knew that something would happen in each chapter’s five or six pages. And I think that is why I loved reading The Maze Runner despite having watched the movies already, the pace of the book is almost nauseating in its intensity. Every single page holds your attention and as I closed the book I literally had to catch my breath.
The book addresses some big issues in my opinion, as I am sure the whole series will once I am done. The use of children like pawns is a theme addressed in many YA dystopia novels, but in this one it seemed even more brutal. Maybe it’s the fact that the boys in The Glade have to live like grown-ups, work from sun up to sun down, have their own council, make decisions about when people are right and wrong, even decide on when and how to banish them, and despite these grown-up roles they have to fill, you always get this sense of sadness at the thought that they are still just children. Children without any memories of what it is to be a child. In many ways that is what happens to so many children all over the world today, having to be grown-ups before they are kids, and it made me think twice about how lucky I was as a kid. The other theme that stood out for me came once again from our lead Thomas and his relentless good character. Don’t get me wrong he is no goody-two-shoes, but Thomas is fiercely devoted to his friends and at the same time he knows the importance of taking responsibility for his own actions. That devotion to friendship and the greater good is present in most of the characters in the book.
As I am, I have to make a brief comment on the cover and jacket design of the book. I find it absolutely beautiful (and I am very sad that it’s not my own book to put on my bookshelf). Chicken House Publishing has done a great job at making the cover striking yet classic and I love the use of egg shapes on the back cover! The tech nerd in me also loved the QR code at the back and I spent quite some time on the mobile site in between reads. Well designed, beautifully executed, and I just love touching it.
Honestly, I can’t wait to read the rest of the series! I am especially excited for the Prequal, which you have to read at the end of the whole series, explaining everything. I love the characters and I can’t wait to see them grow even more. They are all so strong and that is what makes me excited for the rest of The Maze Runner series. Well done James Dashner you officially have me hooked!
And here, to get you hooked as well if you’re not already, the trailer to the second movie, The Scorch Trails: