The Maze Runner - James Dashner
Thomas wakes up in a dark elevator with no memory of who he is, save for his name. He soon finds himself Glade, an idyllic expanse surrounded on four sides by the walls of a giant maze. The other “Gladers” know nothing except that they were put there by someone, and that Thomas is only the latest arrival to the Glade, sent monthly by the enigmatic creators. However, the day after Thomas’ arrival, the first girl is sent up in the elevator, breaking the order of the Glade. The Gladers know they need to solve the maze in order to escape, and they suspect Thomas may have something to do with their strange predicament.

James Dashner’s The Maze Runner is an excellent young adult science fiction novel; unfortunately the book starts extremely slowly. The protagonist Thomas, is very believable and reacts naturally to his strange situation, trying to find out what is happening to him. The Gladers, however, refuse to answer even his most basic questions at first, and the reader unfortunately shares Thomas’ frustration at the lack of any answers. While this is a bit of a turnoff, the major questions surrounding the nature of the maze and Thomas’ identity, are compelling enough to keep interest. The story is told entirely from Thomas’ point of view, but from a third person perspective rather than first-person, which is an interesting choice on the part of the author.

The Gladers have established their own society within the maze, with new arrivals assigned to specific jobs denoted by invented words. While Dashner’s Glader slang is a bit distracting at first, the meanings are easy to pick up and the words come off naturally. The supporting cast of Gladers is largely unremarkable, although a few boys eventually stand out as interesting characters. The all-male cast may serve as a deterrent to some female readers, as the only girl in the cast spends most of the book in a coma.

Thomas has an innate desire to become a Runner, or one of those tasked with mapping the maze and working on a solution. It is when Thomas finally fulfills this goal that the story becomes much more fast paced. The ending is somewhat violent, but wraps up the story of the maze while still leaving room for a sequel.

Despite its slow start, The Maze Runner is a very good young adult science fiction novel. The story ends on a somewhat sinister note, and the reader is definitely left wanting more.

This review was based on a review copy provided by the publisher.