Thursday, March 17

The Maze Runner - James Dashner

The first thing Thomas is aware of is the noise - a boom, then a horrible crushing, grinding, scraping sound that reverberated through his body. That was frightening enough, but when Thomas realised that the sounds were not only the first thing he was aware of but also the only things he remembered, he became terrified. He knew facts, but all he knew of himself was his name and his gender - not where he came from, who his family were, or where he was. When the shuddering, shaking container he awoke in finally opened, Thomas was confronted with a confusing world where nobody would explain the arcane and clearly important rules. Run by boys apparently aged around twelve to eighteen, each has a defined role, all of which support the Runners - they race around the maze that surrounds the Glade, frantically mapping the stone walls' twists and turns, avoiding the deathly Grievers and racing back to the safety of the Glade before the massive stone Doors slide closed. Though he knows nothing of this, Thomas senses that he's meant to be a Runner, too. The Maze Runner has a Hunger Games-like potential. Certainly the elements are there, but somehow they just didn't come together for me. A significant part of that is because Thomas was too much of a cipher, but far more was because not nearly enough the world-building was revealed, even in an oblique way that would allow the reader but not the protagonist to guess at a reason for the maze. All the boys come to the Glade like Thomas did - with no memory of anything personal, but a broad general knowledge. Some of them have been there for two years, and all have learned the value of routine and discipline, But Thomas' arrival triggers something new, including the arrival of the only girl ever sent. She carries a note saying she's the last, and something about her is familiar to Thomas; odd in a world where nothing is familiar. But although Thomas and Theresa can communicate psychically, we're never given an indication of why they're so different, or what that means. I was disappointed but not surprised to find that The Maze Runner is the first in a series, most likely a trilogy. I have no problem with trilogies, provided at least part of a story arc's completed at the end of each section. I had the same reaction to that discovery as I did last year when Skin Hunger abruptly concluded with "end of book one" - the pay off wasn't worth the effort,. Though it means I'll never know what happened to Thomas, nor why he means anything, I'll not lie awake at night wondering. - Alex

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