When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.
Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.
Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.
James Dashner’s The Maze Runner is pure dystopian fiction; and I love it! My husband and I listened to the audiobook together (just like we did for The Hunger Games series) and we’re pumped to start the sequel, The Scorch Trials!
So, as much as I hate doing this I must make a comparison to The Giver by Lois Lowery, but its a super positive comparison, so never fear! One aspect I loved about The Maze Runner, and also appreciated in The Giver, is the way in which the reader and the narrator are finding things out at the same time. Because Thomas wakes up in an elevator with no memory except his name (I mean just imagine that!) he knows absolutely nothing about the situation he’s about to enter, which is exactly how it is for the reader. In some way, this technique made me really feel as though I was actually Thomas experiencing everything about The Glade for the first time.
Dashner’s writing completely captures you from the very beginning. Here see for yourself,
He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale dusty air. Metal ground against metal; a lurching shudder shook the floor beneath him. He fell down at the sudden movement and shuffled backward on his hands and feet, drops of sweat beading on his forehead despite the cool air.
Boom! I was hooked! Dashner had me concerned for the main character within the first few sentences. Plus, the world he creates in The Glade is so well thought out he even introduces new vocabulary (shuck, greenie, shank, slopper) that is used by The Gladers, further sucking you into this new and creepy world. My husband and I loved the Glader slang so much we even started incorporating into our own conversations (we’re not nerds or anything!).
In The Glade, the Gladers never really feel safe because they have no idea why they were there and who was watching. As a reader you completely get this feeling of danger and insecurity around every corner because you’re there right alongside the characters, learning everything as they do. This ties in to how strong a writer Dasher is. He manages to tell you just enough, without telling you so much that it ruins it. Just enough to creep you out and make you want more at the same time. For example, Dashner never over describes the way the Grievers look. He writes just enough detail and information to give you the basic idea of them and let your mind do the rest. It’s like he understands that our minds can form more horrific images than anyone could ever put into words. The creators of Signs, (you know the Mel Gibson alien movie) should have taken some tips from Dashner and never have shown us exactly what the aliens looked like because that was the exact moment it stopped being scary for me.
Okay, I have to make a comparison to another classic book; The Lord of the Flies by William Golding. In Lord of the Flies, you have teenagers on their own forced to create their own mini society with no adults, which is exactly what you have in The Maze Runner. Golding’s approach has the society swiftly falling apart and melting into mass chaos, where as Dasher does the exact opposite. The society that forms in The Glade, is one based on organization and hard work. The older teens, who’ve been in the Glade the longest, know that without this organization and work, everyone would go crazy with fear, so it’s a necessity to keep them all sane and alive. I like this take on an only teen civilization. Although I work in a middle school and sometimes believe the Lord of the Flies scenario is much closer to what would actually happen if adults suddenly ceased to exist, I appreciated the idea that maybe I’m wrong.
Honestly, I hope a production company picks The Maze Runner up and makes it into a movie. I really think the style of this book could easily work into a film; as long as they don’t show me too much of the Grievers! If you’re a fan of dystopian lit, definitely don’t pass up The Maze Runner. I think it could be slightly scary for younger middle school readers, but could be enjoyed by anyone older.
I’m excited to read the rest of the series!
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Listening Library; Unabridged edition (October 6, 2009)
Length: 10 hrs, and 50 mins
Series: First in a trilogy
YA/MG: Young Adult
Buy the Book: The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 1)