The Maze Runner portrays a small corner of James Dashner’s concept of a dystopian society. The dazed and defiant main character wakes up in an elevator with no memory of his past life besides his name: Thomas. Thomas is soon lifted out of the elevator and into the light of day by several boys. He has been brought to a place called the Glade, where all of the boys sustain their own livelihoods and perform tasks to continue living in fear of what lies beyond the walls. The Glade is surrounded by the Maze, where globulous mechanical creatures called Grievers lurk. The Runners, a special force of the strongest boys in the Glade, run the Maze every day and try to find a way out. Thomas determines that he can find a way out of the Glade, and decides to become a Runner. However, the others soon become suspicious of Thomas because he seems to be too familiar with the area. To make matters worse, the first girl appears in the elevator a few days later, and Thomas can communicate with her telepathically. Thomas and the girl, Teresa, eventually realize that they are special because they have the ability to find the way out of the Maze. However, Thomas fears that what lies outside could be even more sinister than their trapped existence inside the Maze.
The Maze Runner is a unique take on a tired genre. The drama of life in the Glade and Thomas’s mission to save everyone from the Grievers make the book intriguing, but the diction and storytelling fall somewhat short. There are several unexpected slang words used frequently by the characters, and the boys in the Glade all seem to be selfish, frightened, and cryptic. In addition, the setting is poorly described and difficult to picture.
I had a hard time getting through The Maze Runner, and the ending did not live up to my expectations. The dystopian genre has become clichéd, and although Dashner attempts to portray a new version of our future, The Maze Runner is still unoriginal and not quite creative enough.
I would recommend The Maze Runner to those that enjoyed other dystopian series such as Divergent and The Hunger Games.