Review: “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner

th“The Maze Runner” by James Dashner. Delacourte Books. 375 pages.

In one of my writing classes, I talk about pitching ideas to editors. Most pitches these days accept the idea that there are no new ideas; instead most everything is a collision of two other, well-known ideas. Following that premise, I would describe “The Maze Runner” as Divergent meets Lord of the Flies.

The two things I like about The Maze Runner is (1) it doesn’t fall into the typical YA trap that the story has to be about a girl with two guys after her; and (2) it keeps you guessing. In fact, because it is a series, Dashner does a great job of answering enough questions to keep you from being frustrated, and yet leaves plenty of stuff unanswered at the end so that you want to read the rest of the book.

It’s hard to write a summary of the story without including spoilers, but I will try, mainly because I really think this is a book worth reading. A 16-year-old boy wakes up in an elevator that opens in the midst of other young boys in the middle of a grove. All have had their memories wiped. He knows that his name is Thomas, and basic concepts of how the world works, but that’s all. The grove is surrounded by 100 foot walls with doorways that open shortly after dawn and close just before dark. On the other side is the Maze, where “runners” are sent each day to try and find a way out. If they don’t get back by the time the doors close, bad things happen.

The inciting incident is the arrival of Thomas, who immediately wants to be a runner and seems to almost remember a few things. The fascinating part of the story is not the situation they are in, but the interaction between the characters, hence the reference to the Lord of the Flies. There are no “evil” boys, but many have a different view on what should be done about their situation, and boys being boys, deal with it in a very straightforward manner.

Things get even more complication when a day later, a girl arrives, with a strange connection to Thomas, who doesn’t remember her at all.

It’s a fast read–I read it in about six total hours–because it’s a YA book and because it keeps your interest all the way through. Lots of fun–you’ll like it.

I give it four and a half out of five stars.