Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Maze Runner

Title: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Dystopian

Release Date: October 6, 2009

Source: Kindle Store

My Rating: 4/5

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he's not alone. When the lift's doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade-a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, they've closed tight. And every thirty days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up-the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprisingly yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried withing his mind.
                                       - Goodreads

"The Maze Runner (TMR), by James Dashner, an interesting title for an interesting novel. It was partly for the reason of the interesting title that I chose to review the book, that I even decided to read it in the first place, and only after completing the read do I recognise its importance. It plays a major role, or should I say it's the name designated to the major role our protagonist plays in the story.

"He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air"
Engaging, as every opening of every novel should be. Thomas, our protagonist, comes to, after what seemed to him like an endless sleep, in a seemingly make-shift elevator, surrounded by who seem to be ordinary teenage boys. Confused, as you'd expect, he begins with a torrential flow of questions, the answers to which aid him in realising that he had been abducted, and sent to a very primitive version of what we know to be a normal town.

We learn that this has been a re-occuring thing, the arriving of a new boy on the same day of every month, for two years now, and that the only information the boys are in possession of is their first names.

The place they have been sent to, was christened with the name 'the Glade', and is situated in the heart of an ever-changing maze. A maze in which dangerous creatures reside.
The boys have cleverly banded together, each taking it upon themselves to provide one necessary need for the community, be it becoming a farmer and providing food or taking up the role of a builder and making sure their simple homes and hospitable. What Thomas is interested in, however, is the selective group, namely 'The Maze Runners', who spend their days exploring the maze, desperately searching for a way out.

Thomas soon discovers that all odds for escape whatsoever, aren't in their favour. This becomes even more unnerving when a girl, the first to ever set foot in the Glade, makes an unexpected arrival the day after Tom's. Teresa, the girl, is unconcious at first, and upon the crowding of the gladers around her body, she jolts to life with a note in her hand, reading "The end is near". Mass panic erupts as a result and subsequent occurences lead most of the gladers to believe that all hope is lost.
With all blame pointed in his direction, what will his next move be? Will he and the others unearth the secret to their escaping? Or will they remain in the Glade,  in fear of whatever horrible fate awaits?

This novel is entertaining, through and through, what with its uniqueness that makes it stand out from other Young Adult (YA) fictional novels, the deep characters that add to the enjoyment of reading the book, and the strange way in which the story is written.

Speaking of the author's use of strange, yet intriguing, language in the book, James Dashner creates, within TMR, a completely renewed way of speaking. It isn't uncommon that in a story, you find certain aspects of the characters' speech, that seem unusual and different to what we would classify as the norm. Dashner takes this to a new level entirely, incorporating into modern English, small words such as 'greanie', 'shank' 'klunk', 'shuck', the meanings of which I'd rather keep out of this review, for your sake. It doesn't seem like much, but when these words are thrown into every second sentence, the experience changes drastically.
"You are the shuckiest shuck faced shuck in the world!", just a particular example of the word's use, when Tom got a bit too aggitated.

The concept of character building in TMR similar to other YA novels in that the protagonist grows and develops, to some extent, but there is also a noticeable difference. Said difference is due to the fact that the characters know nothing about themselves or their lives prior to their arrival in the maze. This creates the possibility that it's somewhat difficult for the readers to form opinions on the characters, because the factors responsible for shaping the individuals are unknown.

Despite the obvious difficulty it's clear as day the type of person our protagonist, Thomas, is. Sixteen year old Tom, of height five foot nine, with soft facial features and an average build. All this information is brought into light by other gladers' speculations at the beginning of the book. The fact that Thomas himself, doesn't know how old he is, or is unable to describe what he looks like without the aid of a reflection, the fact that he is unsure of his basic profile, creates questions in our minds and most of us read on as a result. The one thing, besides his name, that Tom is certain of, is his daring and determined personality. Even the readers, are sure of this by the end of the first chapter, when Thomas confides in his new friend 'Chuck', that he wants to be a maze runner. There isn't a doubt in our minds concerning his personality because Dashner so carefully and cleverly creates the character of Thomas.

The story is told from Thomas' point of view, so the character developing is based predominantly on him, but the building of the other characters is also well done. Chuck, for instance, Tom's first friend in the Glade, is portrayed as a young vulnerable boy whom Thomas instantly takes to caring for. The developing of Chuck's character contributes to the fleshing out of Thomas, as a new side is added to his personality; that of a caring older brother. Another noteworthy character in Minho, Thomas' fellow maze runner and pal. The bond between the two characters gives Thomas even more depth and makes him all the more likable.

Books are woefully underrated. The lessons hidden behind those all too familiar monochrome wordings are often missed or misunderstood. Even if the reason for your picking up a book isn't solely based on obtaining insight of some kind, the imagination at work in fictional cases, or the wealthy of factual knowledge in others will likely be worth your time.
The time taken to read 'The Maze Runner was definitely time well spent. Though the beginning was slow reading for me, most aspects of a good novel were present in this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I award it four out of five stars and deem it suitable for what I assume its target market is; young adults."

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So yeah, this is a book review, written for an English assignment we were given this week. Nothing too fancy, just a filler post because I haven't updated my blog in a while! Read it, or don't read it, it's up to you!

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