Monday, January 17, 2011

Review — The Maze Runner by James Dasher

Synopsis (via Goodreads): Imagine waking up one day in total darkness, unsure of where you are and unable to remember anything about yourself except your first name. You're in a bizarre place devoid of adults called the Glade. The Glade is an enclosed structure with a jail, a graveyard, a slaughterhouse, living quarters, and gardens. And no way out. Outside the Glade is the Maze, and every day some of the kids -- the Runners -- venture into the labyrinth, trying to map the ever-changing pattern of walls in an attempt to find an exit from this hellish place. So far, no one has figured it out. And not all of the Runners return from their daily exertions, victims of the maniacal Grievers, part animal, part mechanical killing machines.

Thomas is the newest arrival to the Glade in this
Truman-meets-Lord of the Flies tale. A motley crew of half a dozen kids is all he has to guide him in this strange world. As soon as he arrives, unusual things begin to happen, and the others grow suspicious of him. Though the Maze seems somehow familiar to Thomas, he's unable to make sense of the place, despite his extraordinary abilities as a Runner. What is this place, and does Thomas hold the key to finding a way out?

The Maze Runner, Dashner has crafted a creative and engaging novel that's both mysterious and thought provoking.

Review:  This is one of those books that it’s hard for me to not to associate with another book.  The first time I heard about The Maze Runner it was along with someone saying “if you liked Hunger Games you’ll love it.”  So, maybe I was expecting too much when I excitedly dove into this one.  It’s not a bad book, by any means.  It was just one of those ones that wasn’t for me.

I don’t think it helped that I had trouble envisioning this maze in my mind.  There seemed to be a lot of conflicting descriptions, but I have a tendency to read fast and miss details so that just might be on me.  Same with the Grievers.  So, they’re Swiss-army slugs?  What?!

It also didn’t help that there was just so much stuff to explain that I went a bit crossed-eyed for a few pages and just stopped caring.  Characters seemed to revolve around Thomas, just telling him what was going on, what had been happening, and to just STOP ASKING QUESTIONS.  That started to irritate me a lot.  This sentiment seemed to be said over and over again, and you’re constantly expecting the payoff of, “uh, no, asking questions is what’s going to save your ass.”  And it did, kind of, but was really more stumbled upon than the result of Thomas’ curiosity.

While I did stay up late because the pacing picked up toward the end and I just wanted to finish, the plot seemed to truck along with the steady pace of “action, exposition, action, action, exposition, more exposition, really, there’s a lot of exposition we need to tell you about, crazy action, cliffhanger.”  I felt like this book had a lot of “tell” in terms of the world and the rules of it all and not a whole lot of “show” (and definitely not a whole lot of character development).  Dashner also created his own language to get around those pesky kids swearing all the time, but it seemed so forced and never really had much context so it eventually ended up distracting me more than anything.

My main issue, and what I have to say The Maze Runner lacked, compared to the Hunger Games trilogy (sorry, can’t help it, I’m comparing), was heart.  I just didn’t find myself caring for any of the characters much.  We saw them do a whole lot of cool stuff, but I didn’t feel like I really knew them, so when characters you should care about is in mortal danger, I just sort of shrugged and turned the page.  That being said, there was a nice cliffhanger that has me leaning towards picking up the next in the series and the overall conspiracy and reasons behind the maze are interesting and could be really cool.

Lit Snit Verdict: C

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