Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: October 6, 2009
Series: Maze Runner #1
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
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 30 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 surprising 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 within his mind.
The reader and protagonist are both thrown into the story in medias res. So the beginning part of the book is spent trying to find out what little is known about the Glade from the kids who were already there when Thomas arrives. Once the girl shows up, even the bits and routines that the Gladers do know are upended and the madness ensues!
The plotting in this book is fast-paced and action-packed. There is almost always something crazy going on to keep the reader occupied and, even when there isn't, there is an array of things to try to figure out. The book is very action and plot driven. In fact, I would say that the characterization suffers a bit in exchange for all of the plot madness, and falls a little flat because of it. The reader does not really get a sense of the emotions of the characters very often, and I found it difficult to really sympathize with or care about the characters as much as I would've liked to. This is partly because the action is so non-stop that the characters never really have time to sit around and think or talk about their feelings, or to interact in personal ways. Also, none of them can remember life before the Glade, which means we don't really get any back story for any of them. Normally, this lack of connection to the characters would bother me in a book, because I am all about the character-reader connection. But, because the action is so abundant and the characters spend most of their time reacting instinctively, I can mostly forgive it in this case - even if the character with the most presence was the Glade itself. (Honestly, it sort of reminded me of the Island in LOST - mysterious, present, looming.) Also, the ending is pretty 'whoa!'
If you like puzzles and craziness and action in your post-apocalyptic dystopias, then you will probably like The Maze Runner.