action, adventure, End of the World

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I have to say, I enjoyed this book. I didn’t love it. It most definitely wasn’t even close to being in my top ten books, but if nothing else, I did enjoy reading it.

Really quickly: This book is about a boy named Thomas, who is sent to the Glade without any memory of who he was before waking up surrounded by Gladers (the people living in the Maze). He soon learns that he and his fellow Gladers must figure out a way to get out of the Maze, and that that is the reason they are sent to the Glade. However, when a girl shows up–unusual because all of the new arrivals (or Greenies) have been boys and they arrived a month apart, whereas she came right after Thomas–the klunk (a fancy Glader word for poop) hits the fan. Thomas must not only help the Gladers escape the Maze, but he must also find out the reason they were sent there, and what he has to do with the Maze.

When I originally heard about The Maze Runner, I’d thought it sounded interesting, but I wasn’t entirely interested. In other words: at the time, I hadn’t wanted to read it. I was waiting for Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins to come out (I think it was around that time, but don’t hold me to that), and hadn’t felt like reading it. I really regret that. I might have liked it better than than I did reading it now. I actually picked this book up because I’d heard fantastic things about it, but more than that I’d heard about the movie coming out , and of course, I heard about the cast list, (Dylan O’Brien is playing Thomas, and Teresa is played by Kaya Scodelerio, and it’s just an overall amazing cast), and decided to read it before the movie came out. And, having heard such great things about it, I was expecting great things.

I can honestly say that I am thoroughly disappointed. Like I said earlier, I enjoyed the book, but that’s all I did: enjoy it. I didn’t feel any deep emotional attachment to any characters, expect a mild annoyance sometimes, and I found that, while the idea was cool and original, the plot itself was predictable, and I’d gotten the sense that I’d read it before. Not in a sappy, oh-this-is-so-typical-but-I-love-it-anyways kind of way, but in a I-am-not-surprised-by-anything-happening-in-this-story kind of way. It was…disappointing. I cannot come up with a better word. I was expecting so much more from a book I had heard so much about. And I think if I had read it a few years ago, when I was waiting for that book, I might have even loved it.

There were a few things I did like about this book. For one, some of the characters. I really liked Newt and Minho, as well as Chuck. Thomas and Teresa…not so much. But I did also like Gally. Those four characters were really the most human in the entire book. But thinking back on it, to say I thoroughly liked them would be too much of an understatement. I liked them because they had likeable qualities: Newt was smart, and thought things through. Minho was slightly reckless, but also a little scared and puts on a tough front. Gally was mean and a bit of a bully (an understatement), but I liked him because he was different. He wasn’t entirely evil, and I almost felt bad for him. He really just wanted to be heard. And then there was Chuck. Chuck was, well, he was Chuck. He was adorable, and a little annoying at times, but he was very much the little brother figure. And I could just picture him with the chubbiest cheeks, and couldn’t help but love him. Because Chuck is really just innocent, and I’m a bit of a sucker for innocent characters.

But  I never really liked Thomas or Teresa. I mean, Teresa was kind of cool, and I guess I actually did like her, but Thomas was so…dull. He was too perfect, and I couldn’t really find a flaw with him. And it made him seem less human, and less dimensional.

There was also the matter of the not-so-emotional-attachment-to-the-characters. When I said I had no emotional attachment to the characters, I mean I had no emotional attachment to the characters. I could care less what happened to them. I didn’t care if they died, I didn’t care when one of them got hurt, and I really didn’t care if they ever made it out of the maze. I just didn’t care. I kept reading the book to satisfy a curiosity, but I never had the need to turn the page, keep reading. I couldn’t even find that in the characters, and I think that’s what really disappointed me. Because normally, when I’m really into a book, when things don’t go the way they’re supposed to, something goes wrong, or a character dies or is hurt (either physically or mentally), I get a pit in my stomach. Or when something really good happens, I want to jump up and down, and then tell everyone within a two-mile radius about what amazingly fantastic thing just happened to the main character. Reading this book, I felt dissatisfied and empty. The entire book. And when I finished the book, I felt indifference.

And I am now completely unmotivated to read the next book.

I never thought I’d actually say that. Wow.

Okay, all that being said: I do recommend this for younger readers. There is gore, and there is violence, but I think it’s definitely a book that you enjoy when you’re younger.

One last note: I’m still going to see the movie. While the book was upsetting, I did still get some kind of enjoyment reading it. And I still love the actors who are starring in it. And that’s the reason that I read to book in the first place, and so even if the critics proclaim it to be the worst movie in the history of movies, I will still go to see it.