Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Maze Runner HeaderWith The Maze Runner on my “to read” list for a while now, the release of the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation was all the push I needed to finally crack the book open.  Turns out I probably could have just waited for the movie.

The concept is simple: one day a boy wakes up in a dark box, moving upward at a steady pace. As it comes to a stop, the top opens up to a group of boys around his age looking down at the normalcy of the situation. Apparently a random boy being dropped at the doorstep is a regular occurrence within the confines of the maze. Without their memories, all they know is that it has been years with no progress in finding a way out of the maze they live within. What they don’t realize is that things are finally about to change.

With visions of the Harry Potter maze from book four running through my mind, the dangers of what traps lay within and the desperation of running into dead end after dead end, I was expecting something a little more tense and stressfully exciting with The Maze Runner, but honestly the one or two threats within the maze just didn’t do the trick. The amorphous creatures that come out at night bring up images that are more ridiculously laughable than frightening, and if you’re out of the maze when the sun goes down you’ve got nothing to worry about anyway. Maybe if there was a risk of getting lost and trapped in the maze overnight this would change, but as far as I’m concerned running through the maze is the simplest thing in the world. It’s big and the walls change position at night, but it’s easy enough to make your way through and back no problem according to the writing. Now if only they could find that pesky exit (which takes them way longer to figure out than it does the reader, FYI).

An explanation for the existence of the maze is hinted at, but don’t expect anything satisfying, so I’m just going to go ahead and assume that we dive deeper into that in the sequel. Now I just have to decide if I’m willing to read it… Don’t get me wrong, the story is interesting, it’s the writing that poses a problem. For starters, it’s not always easy to like the protagonist. He’s not a douchebag or anything, he’s just written horribly. Basically as we spend time meeting him all he does is pester everyone with questions. It’s for good reason and understandable considering he wakes up with no memory and no one is really forthcoming with information, but the whole question/non-answer basis for the majority of the early dialog gets rather obnoxious quickly.

Then again, the dialog isn’t even the worst part, nor is the inner monologue, per se. It’s when the author fills in the conversations with descriptors and physical responses that everything gets rather ridiculous. Basically my mental film accompanying what I read was filled with some of the most over the top actors with the most dramatic reaction shots ever. Most of the time these descriptors add nothing to the story, but instead just make it hard to read, ruining any flow to the conversation. Here’s an example:

“What do you think it means?” Intensely interested, he tried to block out the shouts and chatter rumbling through the Glade as others found out [removed due to spoiler].
“Well, the walls move every day, right?”
“Yeah.” He could tell she was really on to something.
“And Minho said they think there’s a pattern, right?”
“Right.” Gears were starting to shift into place inside Thomas’s head as well, almost as if a prior memory was beginning to break loose.

That is a whole lot of words to basically get nowhere with a conversation, most of which could have easily been left out.

Oh well.  Even with all the writing problems in mind, my excitement to see the film adaptation of this novel has not waned.  For one thing, Dylan O’Brien is the lead (and I have to get my fill of him somehow now that Teen Wolf is dead to me).  Secondly, I won’t be reading the author’s writing so all of the problems I have with it shouldn’t apply (assuming they smooth out the question asking portion of the film).  And most importantly, I haven’t lost interest in the subject matter.  So bring on the sequel as well.  Just let me read something from a favorite author first.

Final Grade: 3 (slumping towards 2.5) out of 5      Follow @BewareOfTrees

7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

  1. I think you need to have a more open mind when it comes to reading teens dis-topian novels. I can see why you would have those thoughts if you’re a 40+ year old single woman living in her one bedroom apartment, but that doesn’t give you the right to trash a great novel because you’re matured mind is to sophisticated to enjoy a twist on an overused topic. Overused it may be but what isn’t overused? Pop music makes the most money because it’s popular and overused. Your profile photo really gives me the reassurance to trust your review as your only boyfriend gives you a kiss. It a shame you can not open your mind to such a simple topic and breathe it in to enjoy it…

  2. Yes I did read it; Siri and I have since stopped talking after I moved on to the love of my life, Optimus Prime Potato Head. And Chuck, how dare you talk to your elders that way. Go downstairs and hand your mom that bar of soap stat. As a 40+ year old woman, I am sure she can also tell you why this book isn’t THAT good.

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