Goodreads synopsis: If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human. When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone. Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade. Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive. Everything is going to change. Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying. Remember. Survive. Run.
I was really excited about The Maze Runner. I hadn’t read a dystopian novel in a while, and I was severely disappointed by The Hunger Games, so I really wanted to love this. My dad told me the basic premise, that a bunch of kids are stuck in the center of a maze and can’t get out because there are monsters that come out in the maze at night, and I thought that sounded really awesome. Unfortunately, I was disappointed yet again. (Reminder: there will be spoilers in this review.)
Dashner is a poor and inconsistent writer. My first impression of the book was that no one paid any attention when writing or editing this. On page 2, Thomas, the main character, is in the Box (don’t even get me started on the number of stupid words that were capitalized because that’s just what dystopian novels do, I guess), and he’s screaming his head off. Then on page 3, he speaks to the other Gladers and thinks to himself that this is the first time he’s heard his own voice. I don’t know what to say besides the fact that this is simply not true and no one who worked on this book noticed. This is not the only instance of inconsistency, but I will not explain any more of them. Dashner’s sentences themselves also tend to sound very unnecessarily stupid. Near the end of the book, for example, Thomas says something about how he feels as though he and Chuck “share a mom”, and I just wondered why Dashner would say that instead of just saying that Thomas feels as though Chuck is his brother. Again, there are many sentences that have a similar awkwardness and that don’t make sense, but I won’t go through them all. And Dashner’s descriptions were honestly weak. I do not have a clear picture of what the Grievers look like at all. I have no clue what they did with the maps to figure out the code, how they laid out the wax and such, and the descriptions of the Homestead and other buildings, inside and out, were confusing as well. (I’m looking forward to watching the movie so that maybe I can understand some of this crap.)
There were many elements of the story that fell flat for me as well. Perhaps the worst part was the code words, “float,” “catch,” “bleed,” etc. They meant absolutely nothing. They were just random ominous words, and the only purpose I can think of would be just to freak the kids out. Perhaps that’s explained in the next book, but I doubt it. There were a number of unanswered questions that may be answered in a later book (Why can Thomas and Teresa communicate telepathically? How did they help create the Maze? Why the heck did they need to go through this two year trial to determine whether or not they could find a cure for a disease?), but I don’t think that’s fair. I think that we as readers suffered through this whole book, and we deserve answers now. This whole thing with the Flare sort of feels like Dashner didn’t know how to end it, and he accidentally ended up with more questions than he started with, so he had to keep writing. I personally can’t suffer through any more of his writing so I’m going to be looking up summaries of the last two books.* I’m just bothered by the way this disease thing came up so suddenly, and it feels like all that work through the Maze was for nothing. And on top of all of this, it’s very offensive to me that Dashner felt the need to state that the kids in the Maze were the finest minds of their time or whatever, but there were no girls. (I don’t count Teresa because she wasn’t a real Glader.) This whole book felt forced and empty, and I’m sad that such an interesting concept was wasted.
*Edit: I looked up a summary of the second book on Wikipedia, but after the first paragraph I was so bored I decided I really don’t care what happens.