Last fall I had the exhilaration of discovering the Hunger Games series. As I awaited Book 3 of that trilogy, I was pleased to stumble upon The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Hailed as another exciting, Hunger Games-like dystopian novel, Dashner's work seemed like it would be the perfect intermission entertainment for me. I was thrilled when I won a copy from Alessandra at Out of the Blue Book Reviews. Thanks, Alessandra!
Not only did The Maze Runner prove to be an worthy diversion from Suzanne Collins' series, it now holds it's own independent position in my mind. If I never read Collins again, I'm still on board with Dashner's trilogy. His creation is much like the title-- constantly running, and in a maze-like plot.
It came as no surprise to me when James confirmed my suspicions that he's a fan of the television show Lost. This program is known for it's enigmatic characters and multi-layered plot, much like Dashner's work here. As The Maze Runner begins, everything is a mystery and confusion abounds. In fact, I had to power through a number of pages, trying to get past my disorientation and lack of comprehension. I was in the same position as the main character Thomas, clueless and wanting to learn about the world I was inhabiting.
Before long answers began to come forth and I was committed to the story. However, much like Lost, even as answers were given, more perplexing mysteries emerged. This made the story quite compelling and yet frustrating at the same time. That being said, it was exhilarating to feel that frustration at the end of many of the Cliff-hanging chapters. Many times I found myself exclaiming in consternation,"I thought I was going to bed! Now I've got to read another chapter! Gaaaah!!"
I offer few plot details in this review. I specifically avoided spoiler information as I pursued my copy of the book, and I'm glad I went into the first reading with little knowledge of the story. If you're able to do this as well, I'd recommend it. I'm going to try to do the same for Books 2 & 3. As I understand it, Book 2 is going to be titled The Scorch Trials and will be released on October 6, 2010. Book 3 is currently being written.
Beware: The Maze Runner is an incredibly fun read, but like the season finales of Lost, it concludes with a huge Cliffhanger, leaving many mysterious issues unresolved. If you can stand the pain of that possibility, I'd encourage you to read the book anytime. Otherwise, you may want to wait for Scorch Trials before starting Maze Runner. Of course, I'd be willing to bet that Trials will have it's own tantalizing ending as well, so I'll be in for another test in patient expectation after Book 2 myself.
Bottom line: A great read. Have patience with the questions. Be ready for the unexpected. But don't miss The Maze Runner!
As this book is technically in the YA category, I keep my boys in mind as I read. My eldest is only 9 at this time, but he's inches away from reading YA. Would this be the kind of thing I'd let him read in a few years? Overall, the content is YA-appropriate.. There's really no sexual content, and while the characters use colorful language, the curse words are ones that Dashner has fabricated. This technique was also used in Battlestar Galactica with the use of the word "frak", only in this world it's "shuck" and other similar terms. There's also a decent amount of battling going on between various characters, sometimes culminating in much bloodletting. So with these thoughts in mind, I'd recommend this series for teens and above, giving it a soft PG-13 rating.
Again, overall this was a fabulous story. The climactic ending of The Maze Runner still hangs in my mind, and I'm eager to find out where Dashner is going to take us next. I'm not sure what to believe, who may be the force for good (W.I.C.K.E.D.??) and what direction this plot is going. I loved getting lost in the Maze and look forward to another installment this fall. Thanks James, for bringing us into this labyrinthian world!
For more information on James Dashner, visit his highly entertaining blog: http://jamesdashner.blogspot.com/
In this short two minute video, James discusses The Maze Runner:
Here's the URL for the Maze Runner: http://www.randomhouse.com/teens/mazerunner/