Musings on writing, lessons learned by an aspiring professional, book reviews, movie reviews, an occasional t.v. show review, and unashamed opinion.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Maze Runner

First off, this is a spoiler-free review of the book.  Don't want to ruin anything for readers, (I really hate when people do that).  I'll discuss a few minor spoilers at the end of the review.

I liked The Maze Runner, (from now on referred to as TMR).  It was a fun read.  Dashner did a great job at pacing this book.  Almost every chapter ends with a cliff hanger.  If you like books that make you feel like you have to keep reading, this is the book for you.

TMR is the first book in a trilogy, set in a near-future world.  The main character, and only POV (point of view) character is Thomas, a sixteen-year-old (he thinks) boy.  The story begins with Thomas rising up an elevator-like box, into a compound enclosed by hundred-foot walls.  He doesn't remember much other than his name.  

Thomas quickly finds out that he is one among many boys sent to this place.  He finds out that there is a pecking order to they way things are run, and that he is definitely at the bottom... even beneath a plump, goofy kid named Chuck.  And he finds out about the maze--the prison that surrounds the boys' compound.

The older boys have been in the maze for a couple of years.  Since then, they have been trying to find a way out.  There are a few problems, though:  Grievers, (machine monster things) daily moving walls, rules enforced by the older boys that, if broken, can result in death, and a bunch of other dangers Thomas doesn't even know exist.  Despite all of this, Thomas is certain he needs to be a maze runner--one of an elite group of boys that go into the maze every single day, running marathon lengths to try and find an exit.  

This is the type of book where you know almost nothing until the end, and then more mysteries are hinted at to set up the sequel.  If you hate being left hanging, don't read it!  But the sequel is out, (The Scorch Trials) and the third and final book comes out this fall.  

Thomas isn't your typical YA protagonist.  He's not some angsty whiner who hates everyone.  Sure he gets mad when the other boys don't tell him things, but he is quite pleasant as a teenager. 

I liked this book.

*SPOILERS* (You have been warned)
Some of the swear words Dashner used kinda bugged me.  Klunk wasn't so bad, I actually liked this one because of its explanation of the sound poo makes when it hits the toilet.  Shuck, though, and shuck-face, shucker, shuck off, (you get the idea) drove me up the wall.  Shuck is pretty much the f word without the f in front.  I don't think there was an explanation given for this one.

The reason I disliked the fake cusses wasn't because Dashner made up a few words.  That's actually a good thing to do to if you're writing science fiction or fantasy.  It helps readers know they're visting a world different than the one they exist in.  I disliked the words because I felt the author was trying to walk a line between using and not using strong language.  I'd prefer one or the other.  Probably no cussing, since it's YA.  Lay it on me if it's a book for adults.  Maybe if shuck didn't sound so much like the f-bomb I wouldn't have been bothered.   
I certainly don't approve of raunchy, explicit language in stories... mostly.  I'll keep it to don't for this post.  I can debate it later.  But I think there are certain words an author doesn't need to use.  The F word is one of them.  GD is another.  Taking the Lord's name in vain actually offends me more than anything.  So writers, please don't use those.  That still leaves a whole lot of 'strong words' that are usable.  I'll refrain from listing them.  Ya'll know what they are.  

Okay, got off on a bit of a tangent.  Time to bring it back.  TMR had a few other things that cheesed me, but I don't want to sound negative.  I LIKED the book quite a bit.  It surprised me.  The plot itself never surprised me, only how much I enjoyed it when it was done.  I saw the girl coming from a mile away.  Of course there had to be a girl for Thomas to have some sort of romantic relationship with.  I thought at first that there might be another maze of all girls, and the two compounds would meet up at some point.  I was wrong about that... kind of, but I knew a girl would appear.  

Conclusion: if you haven't read TMR yet, what are you waiting for?  Go get it; buy it, rent it, or steal it from a relative.  You'll be glad you took the time to dive into its pages.

The Maze Runner gets 3.5 stars out of 5.

That's all.          

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