Title: The Maze Runner (The Maze Runner #1)
Author: James Dashner
Genre: YA Sci Fi/Fantasy
Category: Dystopic Fiction
Summary: Thomas takes an elevator ride up to a place he doesn't know, he doesn't know how he got there, and he can't remember anything that happened before he got into that elevator. When the doors open, he's greeted by a new world--The Glade. Boys fill The Glade (a new one has joined them every month), doing jobs, and trying to find a way out of the maze that surrounds them; at night, the walls seal and they're safe (if they're inside The Glade). The day after Thomas comes up, a girl (the first ever) is delivered to The Glade with the message that she'll be the last one to come. And then all hell officially starts to break loose.
First Line: "He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air."
Review: This book rocked my face off. I loved it to bits and pieces. Here are the bits and pieces that I loved:
1. The pace was quick (without skipping too much, there were sufficient details to help you keep all of the key players in The Glade separate) and the action was so well described that I cringed while reading about the night that Thomas, Alby, and Minho were stuck outside in the maze.
2. The emotions were raw. The scene where one boy is banned from The Glade at nightfall (meaning that he'll be stuck out in the maze after dark--a certain death) nearly made me cry. It was tense.
3. Dashner brings you along without beating you over the head. For example, there is a language (or slang) that is unique to The Glade, but Dashner never really explains anything--you just figure it out from context. It's helpful that Thomas is learning too because you learn right along with him.
4. Having a largely male cast in The Glade was nice because, unlike most YA, this book focused purely on plot and character--no angst. A nice switch-up from the standard fare being marketed to... well, nearly everyone.
5. The ending: total cliff-hanger. Even though I knew that this book was the first in the series, the twist at the ending got me. I almost said, "Oh, no they didn't," out loud. (I restrained myself, but it was hard.)
The only thing that was a bit off for me (and knocked this down from an A+ to an A) was the implausibility of the structure and order in The Glade. (Now, mind you, I suspended reality to allow for the fact that a bunch of teenage boys were being shipped mysteriously to a place called The Glade.) My only issue is that they referenced the constant need for order, but they never talked about how that order came about. Thomas is obviously (as second-to-last) coming to The Glade a little late, but I'd have appreciated some back story as to how the distribution of labor was set up. They do show you that they have no tolerance for disorder (see item #2 above), but I guess that I was just craving a little bit more history. Maybe we'll get more in future books...
Recommendation: Fans of Lord of the Flies (and all that other YA dystopic loveliness) will like Dashner's series. If you find that you've enjoyed this one (and can't wait for the next one), placate yourself with the Gone series for some more dystopic awesomeness.
Source: This book was an ARC that I picked up from the previously-read bin at the book store that I work at.
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