Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner

Author: James Dashner
Series: The Maze Runner #1
Summary: If you ain't scared, you ain't human. 

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He's surrounded by strangers--boys whose memories are also gone. 

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade. 

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It's the only way out--and no one's ever made it through alive. 

Everything is going to change. 

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying. 

Remember. Survive. Run. 

Why I read it: This series has been on my radar for quite some time now, having made a splash in the YA community--enough of a splash to warrant a published, full-length prequel to the trilogy. And with the movie coming out later this week, I wanted to give it a shot before I saw the movie. (And I'm going to see the movie. I've seen every YA movie adaptation in theaters in the year 2014 so far, and I'm not going to break that streak now.) Plus, I just genuinely enjoy dystopian books. 

Thoughts: After hearing most of the booktube community complain about this book, I finally know why. This is not, by any means, the worst book I've ever read. Not ever close. It is not uninteresting, nor is it unoriginal. It is just not fantastically written. 

James Dashner's story of a boy waking up in a strange place with no memory of his previous life is intriguing. I wanted to know more. If anything, the book kept me guessing, kept me invested in the story until almost the very end. 

My real criticisms of this book lie in two main problems: the characters, and the writing. 

Thomas, our main character, falls flat on the page. His characterization is obviously hindered by his memory loss, but he still fails to develop much of a personality throughout the book. He is very much simply a stand-in for the reader. He seems to be good at everything. He oftentimes "just knows" something is about to happen. He is very much a Gary Stu. 

The other characters fare a little better, but still lack big, distinct personalities for the most part. My favorite characters ended up being Newt and Chuck, the two boys with the most evident personalities. (By the way, did anyone else ship Alby and Newt? Dashner totally missed an opportunity there...)

Dashner's writing also suffers from a severe case of "tell-don't-show." Major plot points happen because Thomas remembers something, or discovers something, which leads to lengthy monologues or conversations that move the plot along, rather than real bouts of action. Cliches also abound, the phrase "I forgot to breathe" making several appearances throughout. There is also a bit of insta-love, though it's not a main focus of the story. 

Most readers will also spot the plot twist in the epilogue from a mile away, especially since all three books in the trilogy have been published. I know I did. 

The story here really is engaging, and with a different main character, may have been even fantastic. I will continue with the series, with the hopes that it gets better. (Even though I've heard the contrary...) It's not in my blood to abandon a series, so I will soldier on. Just not this month. 

Rating: 3/5 stars.

Tell me: have YOU read The Maze Runner? If so, let me know in the comments below if you did or did not like it! 


  1. Did you end up seeing the movie? My sister saw it before reading the book and loved it. Now that she's started the novel, though, she's not a fan. How do the two stack up in your opinion?

    1. I did see the movie! I actually really enjoyed it. The changes from the book to the movie were all completely justified, and I even think they made the story better. And having some great actors (like Dylan O'Brien and Thomas Brodie-Sangster) really helped me connect with the characters more. So while I wouldn't necessarily recommend the book, I would definitely recommend the movie!