Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I listened to the audiobook of The Maze Runner by James Dashner. I can see why so many people (including my brother, who strongly recommended it to me) are fans, but for me, it was just all right.

Thomas wakes up in the dark, in a metal box that seems to be moving. He doesn't remember anything about his past, not even his last name. He emerges from the box into the Glade, an area in the center of a huge maze, surrounded by a large group of teenage boys who, like Thomas, have no memory of what life was like before they were placed in the maze. In order to survive, each of the boys has a job. Most are support positions, like farming or cleaning, but an elite few are Maze Runners, who travel through the maze each day in order to map the maze and discover a way out. The maze shifts each day, and though the boys have been in the maze for two years, they have not yet been able to locate the maze's exit.

Then, shortly after Thomas arrives, everything starts to change.

I had two main problems with this book: I didn't buy the scenario, and I didn't connect with the characters. The boys all seemed strangely reserved, focused on survival at the expense of humor, empathy, and friendship. Nobody was willing to share information with Thomas, despite the fact that they were all in the same boat. While this did build suspense, it didn't make a lot of sense to me. It was also evident that the boys were placed in the maze as some sort of experiment, but the number of casualties made me think that it was not a very well-run experiment. I'm told that the nature of the experiment is revealed in future books, but viewing this book as a stand-alone entity, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

On the other hand, the book does have a lot of adventure and suspense, and for readers who enjoyed the harrowing life-or-death aspects of The Hunger Games, this is a pretty good readalike. I listened to the audiobook, and I feel that the narrator did a creditable job of differentiating the characters and conveying the emotions inherent in the story.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

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