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The Maze Runner


The Maze Runner

Imagine that you find yourself in a big metal box clanking upward. As you suddenly realize that all you really know about yourself is your name, the door to the box slides open to reveal a group of teenage boys matter-of-factly looking you over and welcoming you to “the Glade.” This is 16-year-old Thomas’s puzzling predicament in this gripping thriller, the first of a trilogy.

Thomas is jeered at as the newcomer as he struggles to find any explanation at all for his new surroundings and his lack of memory. Alby, the leader of the Glade, intimidates him, but Newt, Alby’s second-in-command, is much kinder. Regardless, neither have the answers to his frantic questions. Newt hands Thomas over to young Chuck, who takes him under his wing, showing the “greenbean” around and explaining as much as he can.

The Glade, Thomas discovers, is an enclosed space surrounded by stone walls. Outside the walls is an enormous labyrinth known simply as “the Maze.” The Gladers (all of whom appear to be equally clueless as to why they are there and who they truly might be) work hard at different jobs: some garden, some raise livestock, and some butcher animals for meat. And a number of their positions are less than quaint: some take care of the injured and the ill; others handle the dead.

The job that instantly intrigues Thomas is that of Maze runner. Maze runners race through the Maze every day, hoping to reach the end that might lead them home. But they return before dusk when the enormous stone walls surrounding the Glade slide shut, cutting off the Maze entrances from the Glade. This wouldn’t be too bad, but once night falls, the savage creatures known as Grievers begin their hunt. These beasts have been known to kill Gladers or, even worse, injure boys and cause them to go through a time of torture called “the Changing.” In spite of the dangers, Thomas still yearns to become a runner.

Another mysterious group entrenched in their lives is “the Creators,” those who have placed the boys in the Glade. Every week, the Creators send food and supplies to the Glade, and once a month they send another teenage boy. But the day after Thomas’s arrival, a girl shows up in the box --- and although Thomas does not remember how or why, he knows they are somehow connected. The girl speaks only one sentence before lapsing into a coma: “Everything is going to change.” Also, in her hand is a note that reads, “She's the last one. Ever.”

Despite being in a coma, the mysterious girl manages to communicate with Thomas in a most unusual manner, but Thomas doesn't have much time to dwell on this strange development. Things are changing within the Glade: Thomas's aspirations to enter the Maze have come true in an unexpected way when he makes a split-second decision to rescue another Glader, which lands him in a controversial position within his new community. Additionally, he discovers that danger is coming, and the Gladers must choose either to perish or to fight despite nearly impossible odds.

THE MAZE RUNNER is an irresistible page-turner of a thriller that should appeal to any fan of suspense and adventure stories. Its intriguing premise is somewhat reminiscent of (although not at all derivative of) the TV show “Lost.” Author James Dashner manages to give us not only plenty of plot at a great pace but also well-rounded characters to root for (Thomas is particularly well fleshed out, but even the secondary characters are quite believable). The tension rises steadily in the Glade's dark and ominous atmosphere. Hats off to a bombshell that is the cliffhanger ending, which leaves us with the urgent question: When does the next book in the series hit the shelves?

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on October 6, 2009

The Maze Runner
by James Dashner

  • Publication Date: August 24, 2010
  • Genres: Science Fiction
  • Paperback: 375 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • ISBN-10: 0385737955
  • ISBN-13: 9780385737951