The Maze Runner sends readers running in search of better writing

Photo credit: Goodreads

Photo credit: Goodreads

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

2.5/5 stars

The first of three books in James Dashner’s young-adult dystopian series, The Maze Runner follows a group of teenage boys confined to a world of gears, “grievers” and grief serum.

The concept was enticing—a post-apocalyptic future world where children are monitored in a giant, moving maze by unknown “Big Brother” figures—but dully executed. Unlike Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, the language was unimaginative, predictable and insipid.

The terrifying concepts of a self-shifting maze and “grievers,” giant, metallic worms that hunt through the maze at night for runners that haven’t made it back safely behind the walls, were diminished to a bland bedtime story with amorphous monsters. Description is clearly not Dashner’s strength.

In a last-stitch attempt to spike the plot, there appears a lone female, sent up in the metal elevator box used to send supplies to the boys once a week. However, she’s written with no personality except for the glaringly stereotypical infatuation with the main man, Thomas, and an impressively unimpressive amount of intellect.

The two can communicate telepathically as well—the origin of which Dashner hasn’t yet specified as a likely ploy to keep the reader pushing through the next few novels.

The pacing of the story flat-lined, making the only motivation to keep reading stem from an overwhelming desire to just finish the book and move on. The climax, when the characters venture into the “griever hole” at the center of the maze, was beyond predictable.

There are two other books in the Maze Runner series, however, if they’re anything like the first I have no desire to read them. Essentially, this series read like a cheap knock-off of Roth’s Divergent series or Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy.

Color me disappointed.

The Maze Runner movie, featuring Dylan O’Brien as protagonist Thomas, is scheduled to hit theaters in early September 2014. Perhaps the concept will do better on screen than it did in print.

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