Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Series) by James Dashner

Welcome to my review of The Maze Runner by  James Dashner.

I want to begin by saying that I knew there was a film of this book made and made sure I finished reading the book before watching the film (hey I had to, Styles from Teen Wolf is playing the lead!)

 So lets begin.

The beginning of the book introduces Thomas, who has no memories other than his name and is currently inside a lift  ascending to the glade. We learn quickly that this is how all the other boys arrived in the glade.

The glade is basically that, a glade, inside a Maze. Boys aged between 12 and 18 appear to be sent there by "the creators", their goal it seems, is to discover a way out of the maze and back to civilisation.

Surprisingly the boys have managed to establish a routine within the glade, they have jobs, from cleaning to cooking, farming to running. Yes I said running, there is a select bunch of boys who run and map the maze on a daily basis, trying to find an escape. Hence the title, The Maze Runner.

I found the book to be quite slow to get into and if I'm honest if it wasn't for my dedication to this blog I'd have admitted defeat and stopped reading. I'm glad that i continued because as the book developed, I found myself actually caring for these boys as if they were my family. I began to get annoyed on their behalf, then angry, how could someone do something like this to children?

The more I read, the more I wanted to know who the creators were, why these kids, what on earth had happened to the world that would make putting these young boys through hell, worth it.

The courage of these kids is what made reading the book worthwhile. Although it did leave me with more questions then answers, which I guess is a good thing since there is 2 more books in the series. Which I will read, eventually.

The fact of the matter is, this book could have been so much better but there is no character development, Dashner tells you how characters are feeling instead of letting you feel it for them, the characters are pretty one sided, there is no depth to them and this book is simply plot driven, which is great if you like that kind of thing. 

Reading this book left me thinking of  The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis, simply because to read the book as a child is a whole different experience as reading the book as an adult.

As a child I read The Chronicles of Narnia with awe and excitement, I did not notice or understand the religious side to the series. Reading The Maze Runner made me think, would a child reading this book have the same opinion as me? Would they be scared for the children?  There was only one way to find out. I enlisted the help of my goddaughter Nikki, who is 11 and reads at a 14 year old level.  She has never read Dystopias novels, so she was pretty much perfect for reading this. 

Once Nikki had finished reading the book i asked her what she thought about it, her exact words were  "it's just, awesomeness."

To elaborate, my little minion found the book to be exciting, in her eyes it was an adventure for kids her age and a bit older to be living a life with no parents. So what if the kids were stuck in the maze, at least they were safe, had supplies and showed they could survive on their own. It would be like camping without any boring adults around.  There was still some danger but the thrill of escaping, proving everyone wrong about the maze, was more than a match for the risk.

Nikki's feelings on the book shocked me. For me, reading this series had me questioning, why the children were placed in the maze, why those children in particular, where were their parents, adults and the rest of humanity? Was it a game? At the end of it all, I just wanted to hug each and every child who had been in the maze. But most importantly, I wanted to cry for my favourite character, for Chuck.

Nikki thought Chuck was a cry baby, annoying and like her baby brother Karl, Chuck's only redeemable quality was what he did in the end of the book (I'm trying very hard not to spoil this!) but for me, I thought Chuck was brave, loving and kind.  I loved Chuck in the same way that I love nieces, nephews and godchildren, I'd sacrifice myself for them. How could someone put such a gentle boy like Chuck, into the Maze? It was disgusting.

Of course I understand now why Chuck was chosen, it was those qualities that made him a perfect candidate for the Maze, no matter what was thrown at him, he pushed on, he had an inner strength that others didn't, what should have broken him, didn't.

I wanted to test a theory a friend of mine had on this book, she had read the book when it was first released in 2009, she loved it, then she went on to read books like The Hunger Games and Divergent and then re-read The Maze Runner, her opinion had changed, she couldn't even bring herself to finish the book. Her theory is that The Maze Runner is a great first book introduction to Dystopias type books, but once you've read other books like it, you realise that the book could have been better.

So to test her theory, I gave Nikki a copy of The Hunger Games. It took her about 5 weeks to finish reading The Maze Runner, but she finished reading The Hunger Games in 6 days. It would have been sooner if her mum hadn't discovered her still reading at 12am on a school night, I'm afraid for Nikki the punishment was losing the book for 24 hours and then she was only allowed it for 30 minutes at bed time before her mum confiscated it again. Her mum did allow her to read the book after school (after her homework was done of course) in place of TV Time. Nikki gladly skipped the TV for reading the book.

Once she had finished I asked her a simple question. How do you feel about The Maze Runner now? Her reply was "It's still good but no way is it as awesome as The Hunger Games, I want to grow up and be like Katniss!" 

So my friend's theory may be right. The Maze Runner is a great introduction to the whole Dystopias genre but ain't a patch on The Hunger Games or any other book.

Out of 5 stars I have to give this book 2 and a half, there is room for plenty of improvement, I just hope I find it in the following 2 books.


Right my next Review will be ........ The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead. It is the final book in the Bloodlines series and I'm both excited and sad to be reading it now. See you soon Book Worms!

Don't forget, if you have any recommendations, requests or comments then please feel free to email me at truthaboutthebook@gmail.com or tweet me via twitter @BookReviewGirl