By now you have probably seen the trailer for the new Sci-Fi teen adventure movie coming to theaters soon… So before you go watch the movie, I encourage you to read the book:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Random House (2009)
Grades 6-10, 374 pgs (paperback)
Maze Runner is the first in a series of four books, and will soon be turned into a major motion picture in the fall. Anytime a book for YA is made into a movie we get an uptick in requests for the series, so I decided I needed to read and review it for our library, and to see if all the hype is actually true. Is the Maze runner an amazing suspense driven Young Adult novel worth making a movie out of?
In a word, Yes.
This is the second book I read yesterday and both had to do with losing your memory and trying to figure out who you are and why you are “here”. From the moment this book starts to the very last pages (with its obligatory surprise twist) the reader is immersed in a world where every day may be your last. This quasi post-apocolyptic agrarian community is populated with teen boys. Every boy has a job from slaughtering the livestock and working the fields, to policing the group, but the real job is the Runners. Runners go into the maze every day and try to find a way out. And just like every other day in the last two years, no way out is found. That is until Thomas shows up. Thomas, who just may have been here before, but can’t remember more than his name.
This is a gripping tale that moves you relentlessly towards an “End Game” plot, and delivered suspense without ever devolving into a pure horror story. Now to be fair a lot of words have been written about being trapped in some corporate version of humans as rats in a maze. But this is the first Young Adult novel to feature that motif that I know of. Part Lord of the Flies, Part Divergent, with a little bit of Apocalypse Now, all combined into one terrific Young Adult read.
So will I be recommending the series for our Library? Yes.
This book/series probably will appeal more to teen boys than girls. There is not a lot of character development, and more concentration on Action than logic. But that is fine, it is a great book for its intended target audience: middle to upper grade boys. The made up words can be distracting, but since I am a huge sci-fi fan, and most sci-fi books come with a host of new words it did not take long to learn what everything meant and did not bother me. The lone female character is almost an afterthought and at least in this book does not play much of a part.
Parents, note, this is a bloody, violent novel and the age recommendations (grade 6-10) are probably good guidelines. Definitely read this before handing it to a younger child as some of the scenes might be disturbing to younger readers. There is a lot of talking about poo, (klunk in the novel) and related bathroom humor, and creative cursing (again using made up words). But on the whole, a great Teen boy book.