book, book review, book reviews, books, dystopian, James Dashner, review, reviews, science fiction, The Maze Runner, YA, young adult
The Maze Runner
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:
- You wish the maze scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire took up the whole book.
- You enjoyed Lord of the Flies.
- You would still have enjoyed The Hunger Games even without any back story about the Capitol and the war to explain why the kids are forced to fight one another.
If you liked this book review, check out our Book Reviews page for hundreds of other books you’ll like way more than The Maze Runner.
Had no intention of reading it, way less intention now. Guess that means I don’t even want it read to me. By the way, I hate Lord of the Flies, one of the best written most terrible books in history. Just horrible. Right up there with The Collector: well written but vile.
If you didn’t like Lord of the Flies, in no way should you read this book. Haven’t read The Collector. Movie was… different…
I agree with you 100% but I never finished it… I couldn’t haha. The book was just overall bad in my opinion…
I think I remembered to say this in the review, on my phone so I can’t check. The only reason I finished it was so I could go watch the movie today. Calling Audible tomorrow to get my credits back.
To me, this is a most unsatisfactory book, mainly for the reasons you state in your review (two geniuses in the world, who would have thought it?). The amount of cursing, however it is wrapped up is enough to make me think ‘aha, another writer displaying a paucity of language.’ There are perfectly good ways of denoting a foul mouth without making it quite so transparent. As for Lord of the Flies, the concept is quite a good one, but regrettably, I am reminded so much of the Emperor’s New Clothes.
I know the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, but I have no idea how it comes into play here. Expand?
Nothing of any substance visible. Lord of the Flies, to me, seems clichéd, predictable, and containing little or nothing that would persuade me to re-read it. This is a personal view, of course, and not one shared by all.
Haha I love this review. I already didn’t like it because it is in the first person format, and I hate those kinds of books. I also hate the words “was, were, got, get, put” in a book. I know sometimes I use them, but they are in what people say. My English teacher always said to me “Don’t put got, or you’ll get put outside”
I go back and forth about whether I like first person or not. I’m not minding it in Wither, but I didn’t like it in The Maze Runner.
sjp (@sjp_title) said:
Hahaha love those “you might like it if” dot points, hopefully the movie shapes up!
Thanks sjp. The movie was… Well come back on Friday and find out!
Pingback: Movie Review: The Maze Runner | Ermilia
Pingback: Book Review: Wither by Lauren DeStefano | Ermilia
Pingback: Book Review: Serena by Ron Rash | Ermilia