Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Trilogy (Hardback))I think I have mentioned already that I am not a particular fan of YA fiction, especially the paranormal/fantasy genre. There it is, I mentioned it again :) I do however read YA novels from time to time and from time to time there is a gem in there. This time the gem is The Maze Runner by James Dashner. And to think that I almost didn't pick it up at BEA (Book Expo America, which, BTW, is coming up soon and if you can, be there) last year! Thank goodness I stopped and waited in line because the wait was more than worth it.

The novel is what I would categorize as science-fiction Young Adult with dystopian elements. The main character, Thomas, wakes up one day in what looks like a lift. He remembers nothing besides his name. He doesn't know where he is, what happened to him other than that whatever it was, it wasn't good. When he is greeted by other boys approximately his age (at least by the look of it, since Thomas doesn't really know his own age) into what they call the Glade, Thomas gets the feeling that things are about to get much worse. None of the boys know why they have no memories of their previous lives and why they are in the Glade. All they know is that the Glade is surrounded by the Maze from which there is no way out and which at nighttime is a very dangerous place to be. They are protected from what's in the Maze by stone walls that shut tight at dusk and keep the boys safe. They also know that the lift has delivered a new boy every thirty days for two years now as well as weekly supplies necessary for survival. However, things start getting complicated with the arrival of Thomas as some boys seem to recognize him from their previous lives and on top of that, one day later the lift has another delivery and this time it's a girl, something that had never happened before. Even more disturbing is the message she brings with her that may have just squished any hope of the boys getting out of the Glade.

Wow! What a ride this book was! I am very, very impressed and completely hooked, since yes, there is going to be part two :) I loved the originality, which is hard to find nowadays in the age of Young Adult books with swooning girls, chasing after boys (and I'm not talking vampires only) and simplified plots that are all pretty much the same (it's as if you read one, you read all of them). The Maze Runner is actually a very intelligent book that makes you think actually, you have to engage your brain cells to follow what's going on and what might happen. The story is full of surprises and secrets, you never know what's waiting for you on the next page and in effect I guarantee you not one moment of boredom. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), Mr. Dashner wrote an action-packed "Cadillac" of YA dystopian novels. Personally, I liked better than Hunger Games. That's right, I said it :O! Why? Because even though there is part two coming up and I of course can't wait tot read it, The Maze Runner didn't leave me hanging frustrated like Hunger Games did. I know that there is going to be more to the story but at the same time I was completely satisfied with how the first installment ended and did receive a certain closure as a reader. In other words, I didn't feel tricked into buying part two but instead the plot, the writing and James Dashner's talent convinced me to want to read more.

I received this book during a BEA '09 author signing.

Make sure to visit James Dashner's blog, The Dashner Dude as well as the website dedicated to The Maze Runner.