Book Review: "The Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 1: The Maze Runner" by James Dashner.

After getting through the Percy Jackson books, I needed something else to grab my attention and keep me reading. It took me starting a few different books before I finally found one that kept my attention long enough to finish. And boy was it... interesting. The book is like a strange mix of the books Ender's Game and Lord of the Flies with the movie Cube. Just to note, at the time of this review, the other two books in the planned trilogy have yet to be written/published.

This first book centers around a teenage boy named Thomas. After waking up in a strange elevator, a group of other teen boys pull him out and into a type of valley called The Glade, which is right smack in the middle of an enormous stone maze. Some of the boys have been there for at least 2 years, and none of them remember anything about their previous lives. Thomas learns that in the maze are big, blubbery, machine monsters called Grievers that come out at night--though luckily the wall entrances to the maze close at that time, keeping them safe. Otherwise, the boys--and it's all boys--have created a small community in The Glade, with different jobs from janitor to Runner. The Runners travel the maze all day, only to come back right before it closes and draw out maps, as the inner walls of the maze change daily. But something is different about Thomas. He seems to feel a connection with this place, and a couple other boys seem to recognize him, as well. And then the next day, a new person shows up--a month early--and it just so happens to be a girl. And she has a message: She's the last person to arrive. Ever. And things are about to change.

The book has a great premise, despite being a bit difficult to describe. And in fact, the book itself is very suspenseful, keeping me wanting to know what happens next. But here's what makes the book so interesting: everything else about it is rather mediocre.

The beginning of the book is a bit slow, and all it is for a large chunk of the book is Thomas whining about how nobody will tell him anything and how he seems to remember certain details about his previous life but not others and how weird that is. And just other incredibly repetitive descriptions like that. And speaking of repetitive descriptions, the book happens to have a love for similes; there's quite an overabundance of them, actually. And I'd say the last half of the book gets kind of annoying in its writing. The dialogue is laughably bad. There are way too many logic holes in character actions and reactions. The descriptions are choppy and confusing. Granted, there's all of these things in the first half, too, but it starts to get more grating in the second half, I found.

And that brings up the characters themselves. Besides maybe one or two characters (Minho and Newt), I couldn't have cared less about any of them. They were incredibly boring or one dimensional. And half the characters seem to shift personalities at a moment's notice. Minho can go from being cool and collected to a blithering idiot, while Thomas can go from being whiny and ignorant to the smartest of the smart, coming up with ideas and solutions in a couple seconds that these other boys didn't even think of in 2 years of doing nothing but focusing on this stuff. Teresa, the main girl that shows up, has potential for a good character, but despite showing up early on, she doesn't really join the story until the second half. And then her appearances are limited until toward the third act. You can tell her personality is trying to break out, but it still appears bland and boring. Honestly, Newt is the only character that goes through any kind of change in the story, and it's not that major of a change.

And I didn't even mention the Grievers. They're the main threat throughout the book (there are a couple hotheaded human characters, but it's mainly the Grievers they worry about)... but despite endless descriptions, I could never picture them. The closest I came was picturing them like the Golden Army from Hellboy 2, but covered in a layer of blubber that the machine weapons could pull in and out of. They were easier to hear than picture, honestly, with constant descriptions of the scraping and metallic noises and whatnot.

So that's why this book feels like a true anomaly. With mostly bland characters and so-so writing, how did it keep me so engaged? Well, I think part of it had to do with the fact that the chapters were incredibly short and each one ended on some kind of major cliffhanger. The other part was that I was interested in the plot itself and wanted to know what the heck was really going on.

And you do get answers--for the most part. Questions are answered enough to be satisfied. It doesn't answer every question, obviously, since there are still 2 more books planned. But you do get the basics. It's kind of an open ending, leaving it for that sequel, but I didn't hate it. I guess I can leave it at that. Though once it started getting closer to that ending, it started getting predictable. I began figuring out things before even Thomas The Incredible, and I also knew which characters were going to inevitably die.

Anywho, it's not a terrible book, but it isn't the greatest thing I've ever read. I'd definitely be interested in checking out the sequels whenever they come out. The characters are bland and the writing is so-so, but the plot is suspenseful and engaging and kept me wanting more. So if you're into young adult fantasy or dystopian fiction and have nothing else to read, this isn't all that bad a choice.


  1. I've been thinking about this alot... and I agree with you to some degree.

  2. This book really changed my life. It helps me to understand why some issues happen and how to avoid them.


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