Book Review: The Maze Runner

|+| Warnings: Violence, language |+|

“Holy crap, you’re human. You should be scared.” ~Tommy (Maze Runner)


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Author: James Dashner

Genre: Dystopian YA, Survival

Summary: “If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.”

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

My Opinion: My nephew fan-boys so hard over this book that I just couldn’t say no when he told me to read it. I told him that because he’s so into it, I’d read the books and then together we could read books three and four and finish out the series. Reading together as a family is a big thing for us, and I would never do anything to damper someone’s love for a book.

While I can see why my nephew (and so many others) love this book, oh boy was it a fight for me to get through. I loved the characters, but that was overshadowed by poor foreshadowing. I loved the world building and over all concept, but that was weakened by certain elements that showed the book was trying too hard to be cool. I swear I feel like I’m missing something here cause I think I’m one of the few people who’s not head over heals in love with this. Luckily, there was enough good in it for me to give this book three stars.

I’m going to get all the bad stuff out of my system first. I like to try to end things on a positive note.

First things first. Foreshadowing is not a game of “HEY KIDS! DID YOU SEE THE FORESHADOWING RIGHT HERE?” yet that’s exactly what it felt like to me. Foreshadowing should be subtle. You should barely notice it until you’re slammed in the face with the big event which makes the foreshadowing click. The foreshadowing is to keep readers guessing. And because it was shoved in my face the whole book I was just so bored by it all that when the big reveals came, I had either guessed it or I just didn’t care.

Now let’s get to that cursing.  This book tries to score cool points by saying thinks like “shuck” and variations which is so obviously code for the f-word and other swears. It’s so obvious it’s painful. I’ve been a kid and we thrived on that kind of thing. And trust me, as someone who hangs out around a lot of kids, that has not changed. Everyone picks up on it. And in this day in age, you’d be surprised how young kids are when they start using the f-word (or maybe you wouldn’t be). While cursing and strong language can certainly have its place and create a more realistic atmosphere, if overdone it’s just dull and crass. Guess what’s overdone in The Maze Runner? Yep. The fake swears. I get it, it was used to try to establish a dialect and enhance the world building. If Dashner had cut back on that, it would have worked beautifully.

Now for what I liked. Cause this book did earn its three stars from me and I feel comfortable in going ahead with the series. I loved these characters. Even the ones I didn’t like, I really enjoyed disliking them. There was genuine diversity and while some felt a little underdeveloped, all were interesting and important. Newt and Minho are hands down my fave with Chuck and Thomas coming in at a close second. The monsters were really well done too. Dashner has a great ability to help the reader visualize everything, from the maze to the people, to the monsters. I feel like the monsters were such a core element that they really did help with the world building and character development. They added flavor to the Maze. I also really liked the ending. The story promised suspense from the get go and never really delivered for me until the end. But that end was worth it.  While my nephew says he didn’t like the second book as much, I think the second book might be more of my jam and help me appreciate The Maze Runner more. I certainly want to read it thanks to the end events (although I wouldn’t call it a cliff hanger).

Ultimately The Maze Runner tries to give the grit and depth of Hunger Games but only is able to deliver on the grit aspect. The foreshadowing is done in such a way that I felt insulted as a reader, and the uniqueness of the world was hidden by the poorly disguised foul language. Despite that, there’s some unique and interesting elements as well as wonderful characters. The characters are well done and are truly the driving force of the story.  If you’re a fan of dystopian, read it, it’s got some good stuff in it. If you’re not into dystopian, pass on this one.

TL;DR: The Maze Runner is an original concept that tries too hard to be cool. Fake curse-words that are easily seen for what they’re substituting, and foreshadowing is shoved in the readers face instead of being a quiet shadow, put a damper on the story. On the up side, the characters are great and the world is unique. The end of the book is startling and amps up the suspense to what the book promised in the beginning. If you’re a fan of dystopian, read it, it’s got some strong stuff in it. If you’re not into dystopian, pass on this one.


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