Monday, April 9, 2012

The Maze Runner - James Dashner

This guest review comes to us from someone who probably knows much more about my  family than she probably should -- Lara Hays Zierke, my former next-door neighbor.  When we were younger, we lived side-by-side, and I remember sort-of having a  crush on her older brother.  Was it Brad?  Was it Jordan?  I'll never tell.  However, I think she might have had a crush on one of my brothers as well, so I suppose we're even.  My most graphic childhood memory involves seeing her teeny tiny poodle get squished by a garage door.  I'm sure we're both scarred for life.  

Lara works as a marketing writer for an international wellness company and is the  mother of a 3-year-old girl, through adoption.  She and her husband are expecting to adopt another little girl in June!  In her spare time, Lara likes to write.  She blogs about her life on Pocket Full of Prose and has even published some of her poetry and short stories, but it still peddling her novels to agents.  She also has five pets -- two dogs, two cockatiels, and a cat, none of which have been crushed by household machinery...as of yet. 

It's been a long time since I've seen Lara, through the miracle/time-wasting-death-trap of Facebook we managed to reconnect and she was kind enough to consent to review this series for the blog.  This is the first of three of her reviews that will be posting in the next several weeks.  Thanks so much Lara!
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Summary:  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.  (Summary from book - Image from www.indiebound.org)

My review: Imagine how confused Thomas is to wake up in the Glade—a gigantic shifting maze populated by 60 other teenage boys where monsters called Grievers come out at night to kill anyone lost in the maze. As the reader, I was no less confused. The book is interesting and fast-paced, but I had no clue how I expected the plot to play out.

The Maze Runner pulls you into Thomas’s world wholly. As the reader, you know nothing more than Thomas does—which is both infuriating and intriguing. It took me a few chapters to become invested into the story because I felt confused. Once I was hooked, I plowed through book in a weekend.

Dashner does an excellent job of crafting a world of teenage boys. The egos, the attitudes, the language, the brotherhood. As a woman, I felt I was peeking into a world I don’t often see. The book is plot driven and centered on action. The emotional turmoil of living in such conditions is rarely explored. Even physical descriptions, metaphor, and other literary devices are not employed as much as I would have liked. Dashner’s characterization is inconsistent. Several supporting characters are multi-dimensional and unforgettable, while others—including the protagonist Thomas—are a bit flat. I am struggling to think of adjectives to describe Thomas now. There were resolutions in the story that I felt were too easy, too obvious, and a little unsatisfactory. The ending was unpredictable and left me desperate for the sequel.  

I enjoyed The Maze Runner and have recommended it to others. The book was an easy read that stimulated questions regarding a society, obligations to our past, and obligations to others. In most series, I enjoy the first book the most. In this series, The Maze Runner is more of a setup for the rest of the trilogy.

My rating:  3.75 stars

For the sensitive reader: Violence, though not graphic—teenagers do die. These teenage boys have created their own system of profanity. Their curse words are made up and that tends to lesson the sting of them, but it is obvious they are using language.

Sum it up: A futuristic story of bravery, brotherhood, and changing your fate.

P.S. I just read that a prequel is in the works. I am very excited to see what happened to Thomas before his memory wipe. Also, I read that a film of The Maze Runner is in development for a 2013 release.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you this was an amazing reveiw and I am going to go out and purchase this for myself

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