Friday, October 16, 2009

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Dun dun duuuun.

That's really how they should have ended The Maze Runner, first book in the Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner. Instead they concluded with a boring "End of Book One."

Now here's the thing. The Maze Runner is a seat-of-your-pants thrill ride, but there's an undercurrent of something more sinister and overarching as the book progresses. This isn't just the story of a boy who wakes up in a ginormous maze filled with deadly monsters, and who can't remember a thing about himself or his life. It's a story of survival, community, hope, fear, and courage.

So let's start with the basics. Every thirty days a boy is brought up in a metal box to a wooded glade surrounded by a vast maze. The glade offers protection to the ragtag group of boys that live there, the walls closing every night before the Grievers—horrible monsters, part animal, part machine—come out to prey upon any boy without the maze's walls. The Gladers have survived like this for two years, sending boys out each day to map the shifting walls of the maze with the hope of finding a way out.

The day sixteen-year-old Thomas shows up, things begin to change for the boys in the glade. One day after his arrival, a girl is sent up through the box. A girl, the first ever in the glade, with a message for the Gladers: "She's the last one. Ever." Thus starts a race against the clock for the Gladers to solve the puzzle of the maze before they are all killed.

I won't say anything more about the plot for fear of giving anything away, but I will say this: the moment you start reading this story, you won't want to stop. Dashner deftly weaves mystery with suspense and terror, creating a world where nothing is permanent or safe.

As the story progresses and mysteries deepen, two questions become key: Who would do this to children? And more to the point, why?

The end of the book does bring a sense of conclusion, but even then more questions are asked. I, for one, will be eagerly anticipating the release of the second and third books in the series.

For a cinematic taste of The Maze Runner, view the book trailer here:

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