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Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze RunnerA review by Nalini Haynes

Thomas awakes alone in a creaking elevator, moving through the dark, ascending…

He arrives. The elevator roof opens, allowing some teenage boys to rescue him. Thomas finds himself in a large area surrounded by living quarters, a farm, livestock and a graveyard. This area is enclosed by incredibly tall walls with openings that close around dusk, trapping them inside.

Some boys, the best of the best, are maze runners: they run the maze every day in an attempt to find a way out. The rest stay in the center, their daily chores ensuring survival for the group.

Thomas has a burning urge to be a maze runner in spite of the risks.

A girl arrives in the elevator (the Smurfette). She’s unconscious. A note found on her body says that their time is running out. They have to escape or they will die.

The Maze Runner is a book and now a really popular movie (that I haven’t seen yet). A gripping plot reveals monsters in the maze, boys living in a community with aspirations for ‘promotion’ to maze runner and mystery: Who are they? Why are they here? Who put them here?

I agree with Tom Dullemond that the swearing is patronizing; if you’re going to have swearing be more inventive than “klunk” because “it’s the sound poo makes when it hits the water”.

I enjoyed this novel as a quick read with the intensity you’d expect for a YA book. The only teenage girl is more ‘eye candy’ than character; she seems to be the romantic interest. The conclusion [tiptoes around spoilers]: while good for the YA market, the reveal is a little less than satisfactory for adults due to contrived justification for the maze and a ‘fridging’ (unnecessary death of a character to provide motivation for another character). At least it was a boy who was fridged. I guess.

Overall, The Maze Runner is an exciting YA read aimed at boys but girls will enjoy it too.

Rating: 3/5 stars
ISBN: 9781909489448
Category: Science fiction (Children’s/Teenage)
Publisher: Chicken House (Scholastic)
Pages: 384

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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