Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: September 2014
Synopsis: When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he's not alone. He's surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade - a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze. Like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they came to be there - or what's happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything - even the Grievers, half-machine, half-animal horror that patrol its corridors, to try and find out.
[[ Review ]]
The Maze Runner is a young adult dystopian story and if you haven't already heard of it, you're going to be hearing a lot about it soon. The film adaptation of this story has already hit cinema screens in the US and is scheduled for release in the UK on the 10th October 2014. It's not hard to see why this story was snapped up by 20th Century Fox as it's a gripping story full of twists and turns set in a world that will no doubt make an impression on the big screen.
This story starts when Thomas arrives at the Glade in the box. Thomas has absolutely no memories about his past or who he is and is very confused by his surroundings, which is to be expected given that the Glade is occupied up of a small group of teenage boys (no adults and no girls) and is enclosed within the confines of massive stone walls. Thomas soon discovers that these boys are trapped in the Glade, which is surrounded by a huge maze, full of dangerous creatures called Grievers. Everyday, the walls open, revealing the Maze and the Gladers send out 'runners' to try and figure out a way out of the Maze. The Gladers have already been trapped for two years but they still haven't found a way out. Why? Because every night, once the stone walls close, the walls of the maze change. Escape seems futile. Everyday is the same in the Glade, that is, until Thomas shows up, when everything starts to change. Ordinarily, only one new person arrives at the Glade a month, but the day after Thomas arrives, another person is delivered via the box. A girl. A girl that recognises Thomas, no less. Things are changing in the Glade and it seems like the time to finally escape has come - but only if they can figure out the code - and their escape mission will not be easy.
Although the story is written in the third person, it follows Thomas as he tries to figure out what the hell is going on - what happened to him (and the other boys), where they are and what their purpose is. I didn't connect as much with Thomas as I expected to but he is definitely a strong male lead and a great character to read about. Not all of the characters in the story like Thomas and I think that that feeling rubbed off slightly on me as there were times when I questioned whether I really trusted him. With so many character with little to no memory of who they are and where they've come from, it can be a little difficult figuring out which characters to trust and the success of this story is probably down the huge amount of suspense that the reader feels. It is not until the very end of the story that anything really becomes clear and when it does, you kinda wish you hadn't found out what's really going on.
Dashner has created a unique and terrifying world which will probably haunt me in my dreams tonight. It's very Hunger Games-esque as you've got a group of young kids fighting for survival against what they assume is a system adults created to test them. (Why they are being tested, they have no idea). The difference is however, these kids are working as a group to try to survive so themes of friendship and how a society should function are important. Although all the main characters are children, if their age was never mentioned, I could very well believe that this was a tale for adults. This is classified as a YA novel, however, there is nothing remotely 'childish' about this book. This is a serious tale of survival and I have to be honest, Dashner's imagination frightens me.
There isn't much romance in this story but you can see that there is something developing between Thomas and Teresa, the only girl in the camp. There are some nice moments between these two but this definitely isn't one of the main plot points though I look forward to this blossoming in the future books. I am a big fan of romance in YA books, but in this case, I didn't really care that there wasn't all that much of it because there was so much going on in terms of friendships and the developing ties between different characters.
All in all, The Maze Runner is definitely up there with top YA titles such as The Hunger Games and The 5th Wave and if you haven't read it yet, then you absolutely must pick up a copy before the film comes out next month. The cliffhanger at the end of The Maze Runner makes sure that readers will want to pick up the next book and I cannot wait to see how the plot develops from here. I absolutely tore through this book and finished it in no time, desperate to find out what was going on. Dashner has now been added to my list of favourite authors and I would give this story 5 stars simply for the terrifying world that Dashner has created.
The Maze Runner out now in paperback (£7.99, Chicken House)
Check out the trailer for the film adaptation of The Maze Runner, starring Dylan O'Brien, released in UK cinemas on the 10th October 2014.
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