Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is black. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as they could remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the maze after dark.

The Gladers were expecting Thomas’s arrival. But the next day, a girl springs up—the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might be able to find their way home . . . wherever that may be. But it’s looking more and more as if the maze is unsolvable.

And something about the girl’s arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers—if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.

- taken from Goodreads

I was hooked by the first paragraph! In fact, I did a book talk for my students on this book only after having read the first chapter. That is unheard of for me.

What's great about The Maze Runner is that it's sort of the boy's equivalent to The Hunger Games. As much as I've tried to get the boys in my classes into The Hunger Games, they just don't seem to connect with the female protagonist. The Maze Runner has all of the dystopian suspense of HG but with boys as the main characters.

I will say that the writing in this book is not nearly as lyrical as that of Suzanne Collins. It's a bit clunky and feels like you're far removed from the story rather than directly inside of it. Perhaps it's unfair to compare the two writers, but despite my fondness for this book, I sort of felt like I was in a fog as I was reading, whereas The Hunger Games always felt vivid and clear as a bell. Had this been written in first-person I think that might have helped to engage better with the story.

At the same time, I think that the plot-driven suspense will help boys better to engage with the book than the more character-driven (and female protagonist) Hunger Games.

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