Hello Little Darlings,
It’s Book Review Day!
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
First and foremost, this has to be one of my favorite YA series thus far. Thomas is definitely going in my book boyfriend list, along with Four from Divergent, Perry from Under the Never Sky and Frederick Wentworth from Persuasion. I also have side pieces, like Daemon Black from the Lux Series; but I digress. If you are looking for a series that has bends, twists and turns, this is for you. It’s challenging, frustrating and exhilarating. Just when you think nothing more could possibly happen or rather, these poor characters couldn’t handle anything more, James Dashner hits you with a one-two punch to the feels and it leaves you wanting to throw the book across the room, even if it is sacrilege. To put it plainly, I had an author crush by the end of this series.
Never have I encountered a book that is so frustratingly mysterious. You only know as much as the main character, which is practically nothing. You, as the reader, have to walk through the discoveries and revelations as they come to the characters. Never giving you enough to make accurate predictions of future events. Instead, only giving you just enough to stay invested. It’s like a single drop of water in the desert every hour. I couldn’t tell you how many times I said, “What is going on?” while reading this first book in the series. So many questions swirling around in your mind; and for every one question that actually gets answered, ten more spring up in it’s place. It’s like Hercules and Lernaean Hydra, “Would you quit it with the head slicing thing.” Let the reader understand. Your only consolation is that what little information you do receive is clear and solid, allowing you to begin slowly putting the puzzle pieces together. Imagine, as annoying as it is to have half the puzzle missing, think of how excited you get when you’re finally able to form something distinguishable, like an eye or a nose.
Thomas is a wonderfully complex character, that doesn’t quite fit in the mold of “good guy”. He has his dark past, that is slowly brought to the light as he and others begin to recall memories. Thomas’ saving grace is that you don’t get to know him in his past, only in his present. Who he is in the present is different and there inlays the internal wrestle. The struggle that defines him throughout the series. Will he reconcile his past? which Thomas will he identify with at the end of things? Will others be able to overlook his past sins and forgive? All valid questions and not all of which are answered in the first book.
The secondary character and Thomas’ “love interest”, Teresa, is just like him. However, her response to her dark past is very different. She wants to justify and believe in the intentions and the greater good, where as Thomas sees no possible justification and only wishes to change it, redeem it. Will this cause a rift between them? Such varying ideals from the beginning. Even so, there is a very special connection that these two share. One that is not easily broken. It’s tied to his past and plays a significant part in his future. No matter the outcome of this pairing, Teresa is essential to Thomas’ character development.
Other characters that play significant roles in their own right: Alby, Gally Minho, Newt and Chuck. Alby and Newt serve as the leaders, the voices of reason, the givers of order in this new world that Thomas wakes up in. They are the lawmakers, as well as the enforcers. To Thomas, they are his guides and only source of information. He builds a particular attachment to Newt, who is the good cop to Alby’s bad cop. I wouldn’t categorize Alby has an antagonist, though his approach can be rough, I think it’s more misunderstood than ill-intentioned.
The obvious antagonist of this story is Gally. One of the other Gladers, who has it out for Thomas the moment he arrives. It’s hard to completely villainize Gally because his reasons for disliking Thomas are completely justified. Not only has seen glimpses into Thomas’ dark past; but as soon as Thomas shows up in the Glade everything goes to hell and Gally knows he’s the reason why. The issue with Gally is that he doesn’t have all the facts, something that doesn’t particularly weigh heavy on him in dealing with his dislike of Thomas. All he knows is what he sees and his own distrust. Putting myself in his position, it makes sense how he comes to certain conclusions; and at the end of the day his desire is to protect those around him from the harm he believes Thomas is inflicting on them.
At the end of the day, the true villains are WCKD. All their efforts to convinces these characters otherwise fail miserably. WCKD, though truly believing in their cause, have a warped sense of morality that is solely based on their own sense of self-preservation, though they try to advertise it as being for the “greater good”. Their main issues are the same as most massive organizations in novels such as these. They have a purpose and they refuse to fail. Succeeding at any cost, they lose their humanity along the way and it is the job of those that they oppress in the process to expose them and/or stop them.
Finally that leaves Minho and Chuck, Thomas’ closest and truest friends. Chuck becomes the little brother you never wanted. Comical as it was reading about Thomas’ annoyance with this pestering boy who stayed glued to him, it was more gratifying to see the attachment he forms to Chuck as the story progresses. Chuck is only second to Teresa and Thomas is determined to see him safe, taking it on as his own responsibility and duty. Minho is his kindred spirit and the only one, aside from Newt, he trusts fully throughout the series. Their friendship is my favorite to see develop and it’s the one you are rooting to endure till the end.
There is action, adventure, mystery, solid relationship building, fantastic world building; but most importantly… one hell of a story. If you want something that is going to suck you in and keep you on the edge of your seat. A roller coaster ride from beginning to end, than this is the book for you; and of course, it leaves you in true YA fashion of trilogies, with a horrible cliffhanger. So, strap on the seat belt and get ready, cause it’s gonna a bumpy ride.
Here is the link for The Maze Runner of Goodreads: