Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Pub: 2009; Random House
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
I admit that I picked up this book over a year ago because it just looked so freakin' cool. And Then... And then, I forgot about it. Sure there would be times here and there where it would come out of the bookcase and stare pleadingly up at me, but I'd shuffle it in the piles time and time again. Until the weekend before the readathon and one of my former students asked me AGAIN, like for the MILLIONITH time: have you read this book yet?!
So, for the sake of not getting big mopey eyes from my ex-student, I sat down and read it. And let me put it frankly: ?!what the what?!
Here's this kid named Thomas and he wakes up in this elevator that eventually brings him to this new environment filled with other boys as young as twelve and as old as eighteenish. The boys call themselves gladers and they're trapped within a maze of sorts. All of their memories have been wiped. The boys just know that they have to get out of the maze (hence the term, maze runners).
FIRST let me say that the monsters created in this world were monstrous! Grievers are these creatures that are part flesh and part machine. The descriptions are absolutely vulgar. Squishy, bulbuous, clanking metal parts moving in and out, slippery slime trailing behind them. Ugh! Everytime I would read about them I grimaced. This would be the perfect novel, if I taught it in class, I would remind the students that anytime they misbehaved, the grievers would get them. (1) Oh yeahs, the Grievers were something fierce and awful.
Honestly though I had trouble getting into the novel. The beginning dragged and I just didn't give two cookies about who this kid Thomas was and what was up with this horrible life that he happened to find himself in.
The Maze Runner won ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults in 2011 so my reluctance is definitely more of a personal interest and not because the book was lacking. I can definitely see how the story would entice students. It's an interesting idea that all the gladers are boys (except the last one) and as a reader you are just as ignorant to what is happening as they are. But I also found it overly complicated. The end of the book was obviously set up to introduce the second in the trilogy, but it wasn't INTENSE like say The Hunger Games or other series where I just Had To Know Right Away. In fact, the ending sorta made me disinterested in what was going on. The bad guys being good guys who are really bad guys until you think they're good guys is the sense that I'm getting from this little trilogy. Could totally be wrong, of course, and I'll probably ask my student, even though I do own The Scorch Trials.
Ultimately, those Grievers is enough to read this book. Creeeeeepppppyyy!
(1) I remember the ongoing "joke" years back when we read The Giver was to release whoever was being annoying. Disturbing scenes in literature almost require us to find a joke to desensitize the nastiness of it.