“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. – Goodreads
I’ve been putting off writing my review of this book. With the movie’s recent release, this series has been talked about all over the place, with lots of raving and excitement. I went into it with, I’ll admit, pretty high expectations.
Which, as it turned out, it didn’t really live up to. It wasn’t bad – the plot drew me in enough that I did want to find out what the mystery of the maze was and who was behind it. I also wanted to see the characters figure out how to “solve” or survive it. And it definitely had moments of intense action that kept me at the edge of my seat.
I’ve been turning over in my mind what made this book a bit disappointing for me. The first thing was how descriptive it was. Told from the first-person perspective of our main character, there’s a lot of describing surroundings and making observations. Which is fine, but when it starts getting repetitive, it pulls me out of the story. I found a lot of repetition of why he remembered certain things about his life before the maze and not others – even though it had already been covered. This made it a bit more difficult for me to connect with the character and story. Show, don’t tell – and definitely don’t tell over and over again.
The next thing that frustrated me no end was the things that weren’t explained. I don’t want to give away the plot, but there were many, many points where I was left thinking things like why didn’t they just take this thing that could save their lives and is small enough to fit in a pocket into the maze with them? How did they not notice this really obvious thing before? How did X know that this group of characters would do things in a certain way? It’s like when you’re watching a TV show or movie and someone who has been a detective for years misses something really obvious because the writers want to build suspense and draw out the story. But really what it does is make you lose faith – in the characters and the writers.
There was a lot of that for me in this book. Which isn’t to say the entire plot didn’t make sense, but it did leave me feeling frustrated and annoyed. I’ve had this problem in a lot of young adult books – notably The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies. I feel like these inconsistencies could easily be addressed by creating any plausible explanation for the actions of the characters. These stories take place in a world created entirely by the author – this means that the author needs to make sure that world makes sense, but also that they control every element of it and can make up any rationale for how things work that they want. So when there’s no explanation for characters doing things that don’t make sense, I get very annoyed, very fast.
And don’t even get me started on the new language theses kids seem to have created. Two years is not long enough to evolve a new dialect or even just new slang words. Particularly such silly ones.
I was left feeling like this book would actually make more sense as a movie. Things that didn’t really work for me on the page (descriptions of the Grievers, for example, which just seemed kind of silly to me. Even the maze itself) would be much better portrayed on the screen. Plus the outside perspective would get us out of Thomas’ head and and allow us to see the story unfold for ourselves.
I feel like this is one of those books where my opinion diverges significantly from that of other readers, so if you have been excited to read this, find the premise intriguing or just want to read the book before watching the movie, then I’d say go for it. It’s a pretty quick read and definitely entertaining. As for me, I’m going to watch the movies for sure, but haven’t decided yet whether I’m going to continue on with reading the rest of the books.
Author: James Dashner
Series: The Maze Runner #1
Published By: Delacorte Press
Released: August 24, 2010 (First published 2009)
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Dystopia
Date Read: October 19-29, 2014
Since writing my review of the book, I finally got around to watching the movie! It ended up being pretty much what I expected. A fast-pace, edge-of-your-seat-from-start-to-finish, make-sure-you-have-popcorn-for-nervous-eating thriller.
First, the people. I thought the film was excellently cast – each character ended up being portrayed by an actor very close to what I had imagined while reading. I particularly liked the casting for Gally, Frypan, Minho and Alby. The actors also did a great job of portraying the subtleties of both character and context.
The story was also adapted well for the screen. As I had suspected, I felt like this book was actually better on screen. The maze was huge and impressive, the grievers actually scary rather than comical. Even the way the runners mapped the maze and how the maze functioned (each day the walls moved to provide access to a different section of the maze rather than just randomly) made more sense to me, since they could map it more effectively.
There are some things I can’t tell you because spoilers, but what I can say is that some of the plot holes and inconsistencies that infuriated me in the book were addressed in the movie adaptation. Others were not. So while the movie definitely wasn’t perfect, it was less irritating than the book and definitely entertaining enough to be an enjoyable watch.
Have any of you read the book and watched the movie? Which did you prefer? Have you finished all four books? If so, what did you think? Did you have any of the same issues with it that I did? Should I keep reading? Share your thoughts in the comments!