Sunday, November 08, 2009

Review Musings: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is black. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as they could remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the maze after dark.
The Gladers were expecting Thomas’s arrival. But the next day, a girl springs up—the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might be able to find their way home . . . wherever that may be. But it’s looking more and more as if the maze is unsolvable.
And something about the girl’s arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers—if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.

My review:

I really liked the premise of this novel ... the execution, not as much. The story had a great deal of potential but it didn't quite live up to that potential, in my opinion. I enjoyed the process of reading the novel - it kept me interested, it went fairly quickly. But, there was something missing that I couldn't quite put my finger on as I read.

As I've given it some thought, I think there were two things that got into the way of my fully enjoying this book. One, the character development was lacking. I just never felt like I really cared about them or who they were or what they were going through. They were almost a secondary consideration to the conceptual pieces of the book which were intriguing. I never really became engaged with ANY of the characters. They were very flat and not particularly engaging. It's strange - I didn't dislike them but I didn't really care either way what happened to them. Which is not a good feeling when reading a book that I think in many ways centers around your rooting FOR the very characters that just aren't leaping off the page. Secondly, the 'slang' from the world that Dashner created was very distracting to me for some reason. It just didn't seem to blend well with the narrative. It felt almost like a JOLT every time that I came across yet another slang word in the dialog which took me out of the story.

Perhaps my feelings about this book were colored by the fact that I've recently read some really great YA dystopic novels - The Hunger Games for instance. Maybe if I'd had more distance, I'd have appreciated this one a bit more.

I struggled with the rating on this one - I'd really have liked to have given 3 1/2 stars but I ultimately went with 3 stars since it really had some flaws that detracted from my overall enjoyment of the book.

I understand that this is the first in a series of books about this world. I am planning to give the 2nd Maze Runner book a read ... the world Dashner creates is very intriguing so I'd like to revisit it but I do hope that some of the flaws in this one are resolved for the second in the series.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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