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Thoughts on The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner
by James Dashner
384 pages
Published October 6, 2009 (HC)
Young adult, dystopian

I was really excited to read The Maze Runner by James Dashner because there was all kinds of buzz going on about this book. Another blogger was kind enough to send me an extra ARC, and I read it as soon as I received it in the mail.

The Maze Runner starts with Thomas waking up in this area with no memory about where he was before or why he ended up in this place (the Glade). Fortunately, there’s other kids here, and they don’t know how they ended up in the Glade. All they know is there’s a maze behind stone doors that is accessible during the day, but closed tight at night. The fastest runners run through the maze every day, trying to find a way out.

Despite the fact that a boy appears every 30 days, the day after Thomas shows up, a girl arrives and throws the boys into confusion as to why a girl is sent. They know someone knows they’re there, because they receive supplies and food on a regular basis. Why would a girl be sent, and what does the message mean that she delivers?

There’s plenty of action in this book! In the maze are Grievers, machines that have a sole purpose of killing one of the boys and taking him away. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail. But they’re relentless.

Ultimately I was underwhelmed by this book. I thought Thomas could have been developed better, and the story just felt clunky. I DID like how the boys were portrayed, which was very boy-ish. There’s something very endearing about teenage boys and how they interact. I’d love to see more authors explore the dynamics of teenage boys and have boys be the main characters.

Granted, the ending was pretty exciting, but a good ending does not a good book make.

Perhaps if I hadn’t already read other dystopian fiction that I thought was really great, I would have enjoyed this book more. But having read other YA dystopian fiction that I thought was stellar, I felt like The Maze Runner was forgettable.

Fortunately, not everyone agrees with me, so here’s some other reviews with different opinions from me.

Rating: 79 out of 100

James Dashner’s website.

Other reviews:

Books and Movies (loved it)

Devourer of Books

Books By Their Cover

Presenting Lenore

Semicolon (love her attitude about cliffhanger endings in books)

Book source: I bought this book myself.

And one more thing? If you click on one of The Maze Runner links and buy something from Powell’s, I’ll make a commission! Mwahahahaha!! Maybe with the pennies I make I’ll be able to call someone who cares.

You can thank the FTC for this disclosure!

| Tags: , , 18 comments »

18 Responses to “Thoughts on The Maze Runner by James Dashner”

  1. Amy

    Too bad that you were underwhelmed! I really liked this book – I felt it was a little much like The Hunger Games, but I still really enjoyed it. What I liked best, I think, was the interactions between the characters and the boy-ness that is portrayed, that you mention here. I also thought it was interesting how they were so set in their ways and didn’t want to change, even though their way obviously wasn’t working.


  2. Beth F

    Just a quick note here : I haven’t been able to read this or your Passage post — I’m in the middle of The Passage and I have Maze Runner here in both print and audio. I’ll be back to read your reviews….


  3. bermudaonion (Kathy)

    I haven’t read this yet, but Carl has. I don’t think he loved it, but he did enjoy it.


  4. Sheila DeChantal

    I want to read this one yet and think it is on my shelf somewhere. Thanks for the review… I am curious how I will feel about it.


  5. kigen

    Nice pickup on the boyishness. The bonding of boys in recent fiction reminds me also of the Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, a jewel from Afghanistan.


  6. Tobey

    I totally concur with your thoughts on The Maze Runner. Clunky is a good way to describe it and I also felt the characters weren’t developed enough to my liking. But many others have loved it so we must be in the minority!


  7. Carrie K.

    I’m so sorry you were underwhelmed! We were just talking about this on Twitter last night – wondering if gushing about books we love actually does them a disservice, because how can they live up to the hype?

    I also agree that after reading a lot of fantastic dystopian, it’s hard not to make comparisons. I may not have ranked Maze Runner quite so high if I had read The Passage first. 🙂 I never go back and change my ratings, though, so there you have it.


  8. zibilee

    I’ve heard a lot about this book, and am glad to get your balanced opinion on it. I had thought of buying it for my kids and then reading it for myself, but I think that I may just try to get a copy from the library for them, and then pick their brains as to what they thought of it. Sorry to hear this one was a little disappointing for you, but thanks for the honest review!!


  9. Pam

    I haven’t read it yet and this is mostly why. I am afraid it is forgettable among the other great dystopian out there.


  10. Sandy

    I tried to find this book on audio, with the hopes that the kids and I could listen to it in the car, but no luck. I guess I just can’t prioritize it high enough to the printed book list. Too many REALLY good ones out there waiting for my love and attention!


  11. Jen - Devourer of Books

    My problem with this book was the same problem I had with “Forest of Hands and Teeth.” We’re put in this created world, but not enough questions are answered for my taste, which leaves the whole thing annoying and incomplete. However, I was very pleased with what was revealed in the sequel to “Forest of Hands and Teeth,” so I’m optimistic that I will enjoy the next book in this series.


  12. SuziQoregon

    I had a very similar reaction to this book. I thought it was good but not spectacular. I didn’t love it as much as some folks did, but found it intriguing enough (particularly the ending) that I’ll give the second book a shot.

    Too funny – I also said it was “klunky” (after reading it I couldn’t come up with another word).


  13. Jen-Girls Gone Reading

    I am about to start The Hunger Games, and I was wondering if this book was similar, just like Amy did. The Hunger Games got a lot of buzz as well, and a good YA book is always great. I am sad that you were underwhelmed with this book. I had heard good things about it, but I was also a little wary.

    I find dystopian novels very difficult, and I also feel that their appeal is more individual than other types of books. We all don’t notice, ignore, or endure the same problems in our society; therefore, the problems focused on in these books usually have less appeal.


  14. Natalie

    I probably wouldn’t read this book if I saw it sitting on the shelf but after reading your review, it sounds interesting. Something I would read just to try something new.
    Thanks for the review!
    Natalie :0)


  15. Jenny

    Hm, that’s disappointing. I have this on TBR and wanted to read it before BEA but I just don’t see it happening.


  16. jennygirl

    Too bad you didn’t like this one, but I understand about being the only one who doesn’t like what the rest of the reading world seems to. I appreciate your honesty. I will still give this a try because I like the concept.


  17. The Maze Runner – James Dashner | Regular Rumination

    […] Other reviews: Books And Movies, Devourer of Books, My Friend Amy,  Rhapsody in Books, Reverie Book Reviews, Presenting Lenore, Jen Robinson’s Book Page, Steph Su Reads, Fantasy Book Critics, Books By Their Cover, A Book Blog. Period., S. Krishna’s Books,  GalleySmith, Medieval Bookworm, Hey Lady!. […]

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