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The Maze Runner
Book 1

by James Dashner

genre: science fiction, dystopian, young adult

Completely by coincidence, Ermisenda and I have both been reading The Maze Runner. We didn’t realize it until she beat me to posting her review by three days. Though I could wait to post mine, she and I came away with very different opinions, so I hope you enjoy reading my take on the book as well. I’m going to see the movie this evening, so I will be posting that review on Friday.

Ermi, don’t you dare post yours on Wednesday. 😉

Synopsis from Goodreads


If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.


Like Ermisenda, I was first drawn to The Maze Runner in part because of the hype. But while she said she was captivated by the first third, I was annoyed. It’s written in third person limited with a narrator with amnesia. He doesn’t know who he is, where he is, why he’s there, and so you don’t either. It might have been tolerable if anyone would answer his questions. Every time he tried to learn about his new life, the other boys would tell him, you’re such a noob, you have so much to learn, but they won’t tell him or us anything useful. It was incredibly frustrating.

The further I got into the book, the less I liked it. By the 75% mark or so, the only reason I finished it was because it’s my new rule to not see the movie before finishing the book. It was repetitive and redundant and repetitive and redundant. It took them longer to have a basic ‘goodbye, I’m going into the maze now’ conversation than it took Frodo to get to Mordor. I started yelling and gesturing at my phone to get on with it, the way people yell at drivers on the road. I looked like a crazy person.

I kept waiting for an interesting twist. The evil bio-machine creatures are called grievers. Would it be like the final dogs in The Hunger Games, fabricated creatures based on the dead kids from the maze? No. Once again, neither the narrator nor the reader gets an answer. I doubt it was circumstantial to name them that and yet it’s glossed over and not important to the story at all, at least not in book 1.

By the end, I was so ready for the story to come to a conclusion, any conclusion, that I wouldn’t have been disappointed to read that everyone died. However, if it were possible for The Maze Runner to have one redeeming quality, it would be the ending. Interesting twist and a cliffhanger for the next book, but not a story I will continue reading. We’ll see if the movie is any better.

Things I Learned

  • Curse words are just letters given meaning.

This isn’t so much something I learned as an ah-ha moment. Technically, there’s no cursing in the book. No one said anything that would be bleeped out on American television. However, there were curse words. Imagine someone yelling “fudge” instead of “f***.” The context around “fudge” would let you know it’s meant as a curse word. In that sense, I’ve read few books with this much cursing.

Shut your shank face. This is a pile of clunk. Shuck you, shank. Shucking maze.

  • Why everyone tells you to avoid passive voice.

Maybe I was extra sensitive to this because I already didn’t like the book and one of my friends asked me to define passive voice. For anyone confused, passive voice means something is happening to the subject of the sentence as opposed to the subject performing an action.

Passive voice: Carla was hit by a car.
Active voice: Carla felt her shins break. Her shoulder slammed into the windshield and she rolled over the top of the car, landing with a thunk on the pavement.

Or in the case of The Maze Runner…

Passive voice: “Chunks of broken glass were duct taped to shovels.”
Re-written in active voice: The Gladers prepared for the attack by duct taping shards of broken glass to shovels.

Even though the kids completed tasks, the passive voice made it sound as though they hadn’t. It turned them into victims, everything happening to them rather than the Gladers acting upon the environment.

For me, 1 out of 5 stars.


You might like The Maze Runner if:

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-Eliabeth Hawthorne