I initially had no interest in The Maze Runner. The blurb on the back of the book seemed a bit tried, and lately I’ve been finding that teen fiction has seemed a kinda stale. There are always these huge trends after one popular book. With Twilight‘s monumental success, there came a wave of look-alike vampire/werewolf love triangles that were enough to make even me (a paranormal lover) a bit nauseated. So now, with The Hunger Games’ EPIC WIN, everyone is rushing to pump out another teen survival, battle-of-the-wits-against-a-higher-power type drama. And I have to say, I was NOT impressed with the first book, but I couldn’t put the second and third books down. The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure were unstoppable. And because of this, I’ll forgive Mr. Dashner.
The Maze Runner starts with the main character Thomas suddenly waking up to a life he has no memory of. He’s deposited from the lift into “The Glade”–a large green space surrounded by towering walls and populated by several dozen surly, self-sufficient male teenagers. He soon learns that their whole life there revolves around finding a way out of the Maze. During the days, the doors are open, but at the same time each evening they shut–keeping the boys inside and the monsters outside. Unfortunately, the walls change every night and after two years of trying, the original “Gladers” still haven’t found a way out.
Just when Thomas is beginning to accept his new life, all the boys’ get turned upside down with the arrival of a new Glader–who appears in the lift without warning, apparently in a coma. And better yet… a girl. Theresa. She is the chain reaction that sets off the whole story of their escape.
And yet, every day on my lunch break for a few weeks, I slogged through it. I didn’t find the language captivating, and the special slang all the Glader boys (I kept thinking of the Lost Boys from Peter Pan the whole time, by the way…) used was off-putting at first. The whole book seemed like it was just a set-up for the second and third–which both had much more action. It moved slowly, and I was ready to give up on the series–except for the insistance of one co-worker that no, really it get’s good in the end!
So, I carried on…
The Scorch Trials detailed the boys’ subsequent escape/rescue from the Maze and their horror at finding out what the real world had become. All had had their memories erased, so saying they were a bit upset learning that major parts of the world had been completely destroyed by solar storms and that the rest had been decimated by a virus called “The Flare” is kind of the understatement of the century. The Flare slowly turned the victim into an insane, zombie-like cannibal called a “Crank.” Ugh. Now their only hope for survival was to cross a hundred miles of scorching hot desert (hence the name, “The Scorch”) and numerous town infested with Cranks. Oh yeah, not to mention “The Creators” have informed them that they are all infected with the virus and only have two weeks to make it to the safe zone.
This book had all the elements of a good story. Tons of action, betrayal, grotesque violence, a love triangle, and horrible zombie killers. This is where you actually start to care about who dies and who lives. I could totally see this series turned into a movie because of this book. I admired the boys’ perseverance, because once you read what hell they went through, you’ll feel like you have sand in your teeth and white-hot sun in your eyes.
The Death Cure wrapped the whole thing up. Why in God’s name were the Creators doing this to the boys? (Oh yeah, and there’s a Group B–all girls.) Who could Thomas trust and who was a betrayer? Who will make it out alive and who will succumb to the virus?
All juicy, juicy stuff–especially since Dashner only reveals his information a tiny bit at a time, so by the third book I was screaming “OH, COME ON! Let me in on the secret!” But in a good way.
I did think the ending–or the solution, really–was a bit crest-fallen. I see where he was going with it, but I didn’t expect that. And not in a good way. ALL OF THAT MISERY, and that’s where they’re going to end up? I wanted a bit more bad-assery, just a bit.
But all in all, even though the first in the series had a shaky start, the last two more than made up for it.
The series gets 4 of 5 stars, shank you very much.
(You have to read them to get that, FYI.)