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Book Cover Image: The Maze Runner by James DashnerTitle: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):

“When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. 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, open expanse surrounded 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, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days, a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up – the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.”

Thoughts: Dystopian fiction works best when it instills a sense of fear in the reader, when the reader feels a part of the unknown world and feels his or her own life hinges on the success of the hero or heroine. The Maze Runner does just this by placing the reader in the Box, along with Thomas, just as confused about the Glade, the Maze, and its inhabitants. This creates a sense of intimacy between Thomas and the reader that only compounds the horror of Thomas’ surroundings.

The action truly never lets up throughout the novel. From the moment the Box opens, Thomas never gets the chance to relax but feels an unknown sense of urgency. Things happen to him and around him that make him one of the keys to solving the Maze. Just like Thomas, the reader never gets a break either. It is exciting, thrilling and relentless.

What makes The Maze Runner work so well is the idea of the Maze itself and the opposing Glade. The Glade is safe, and the Maze is not. In the Glade, all of their needs are met; it never rains or snows. In the Maze, danger lurks around every corner. Why would they want to leave? What makes them continue to try to solve the mystery of the Maze? It is such an interesting study of human nature, even if they are a bunch of kids.

The success of any novel hinges on the language used and the ability of the author to create a picture through words. Mr. Dashner excels at the ability to use a spareness of words for maximum effect. The creation of a new dialect is perfect and adds to the eerie sense of familiarity combined with the unknown.

The Maze Runner is a series, so there are very few answers that are given. Of those questions that are answered, the answers lead to more questions. While this could be disheartening for the reader, instead it adds a level of intrigue and desire to continue. While one could argue that The Maze Runner does have a stand-alone story line, it ends in such a way that this reader cannot wait to get to the next book in the series!

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