The Maze Runner – James Dashner

91g3accrwol-_sl1500_The Maze Runner is the latest YA dystopian novel to hit the big screen. I had heard mostly good things about it before I saw the movie advertisements, but it was never on the top of my list. I finally bought it last year before I went on vacation so I’d have something quick to read, but I didn’t end up reading it until after vacation because, as it turns out, a ten-day trip to Disney World/Universal Studios with almost a dozen family members isn’t exactly conducive to having time to read at night.

In The Maze Runner, Thomas, our protagonist, wakes up in a pitch-dark room with no memory of his life before this room. He soon realizes it’s an elevator, and it brings him to an utterly strange place called the Glade, which populated with other boys who, like Thomas, also have no memory from before they arrived there.

The Glade appears to be a giant stone courtyard, the size of several football fields. In one corner is a field where various vegetables grow; in another is a barn filled with various livestock; in a third is a small forest. In the fourth is what the boys call the Homestead, a ramshackle building that houses some of the boys, though most normally choose to sleep outside. The Glade is bordered on all four sides by ancient stone walls hundreds of feet tall and covered in ropes of ivy. Outside the Glade is the huge, ever-changing Maze, haunted day and night by mysterious half-organic half-mechanical creatures called Grievers.

The day after Thomas arrives, a girl—the first ever—comes up through the Box. But something’s wrong: the girl appears unconscious, almost dead, until she sits straight up to deliver a haunting message: “Everything is going to change.” And just like that…everything does.

I think I would have really liked this book a few years ago, at the height of my zest for dystopias. It certainly isn’t The Maze Runner’s fault that I’m sort of over the whole dystopian YA thing. I’m kind of tired of reading about angsty teenagers who are somehow supposed to save the world, or what’s left of it. I just can’t relate to the protagonists anymore. And like I said, this is not at all The Maze Runner’s fault.

What IS The Maze Runner’s fault is the absurd deus ex machina feeling I got from the whole book. Thomas supposedly has “no memory” coming up through the Box, but he remembers concepts like parents, movie theaters, flashlights, school. Conveniently, he remembers basically everything except what he needs to remember to solve the Maze. And every time he notices that he recognizes the concept of something without knowing its origins (including the “birds and the bees” talk!), there’s always a comment about it. It was like, enough already, we get it.

On the other hand, though, since the Maze and the Glade are both overseen by the “Creators” through mechanical bugs called “beetle blades,” the incredible deus ex moments are a little less difficult to believe. But still, the incredibly selective memory loss thing really stuck in my mind and I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to, well, believe it. And since it’s the memory loss that drives the plot of The Maze Runner, it sort of just ruined the whole thing for me.

Oh, and I had also forgotten when I bought it that it’s the first in a trilogy. I don’t think I liked The Maze Runner enough to commit to the rest of the series, so I guess I’ll just have to find out what happened via Wikipedia.

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