Sunday, 28 April 2013

book review: the maze runner by james dasher

The Maze Runner by James Dasher
Genre: Dystopian YA
Rating: 5/10
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 might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.


Apparently this is the first dystopian novel I've read this year. Things can only go up. I was SO disappointed with this. I really liked the initial concept and the idea that book 1 is actually setting us down in the middle of a broader narrative but the execution was INFURIATING!

I've never read a book more in need of first person narration! I can't believe I'm saying that because I tend to be a bit indifferent to them but anything would be better than constantly being told that the character was confused/frustrated/scared rather than having that be shown. All of his ~crucial~ decisions come from nowhere. To be honest all of the characters were pretty poorly drawn - put them in a line up and I couldn't tell them apart. There's only one female character and she's unconscious for the first half and when she finally wakes up she does little more than provide a tiny slither of necessary exposition.

Given that it's the first in the series and this book, through the convenient trope of memory loss, deliberately obscure the characters' backstory I could MAYBE have forgiven the weak ass characterisation if the plot and pacing and everything else had worked BUT IT DIDN'T. The story makes logical sense I suppose but for dystopias to work you have to have really great worldbuilding OR an immediate plot that is so engrossing that I don't stop to think about the broader world... 50% of the way through and little more world-building had been achieved than there was at 10% and the first half consisted of little more than Thomas whining and occasionally commenting that his spidey-senses were tingling. FAILED on both counts. In actual fact, 90% of the world building is done in the last 2% of the book!

Maybe worst of all was that, aside from the first night in the Maze, I predicted everything that was going to happen wayyyyy before the book/characters got there. This isn't because I'm super intelligent but because anyone who has ever read anything can see this stuff coming! At every ~revelation~ I rolled my eyes and shouted NO SHIT!!! There's a mysterious hole in the world...maybe they should go through it?!? A side-effect of the mysterious serum is memory recall. Guess what? Someone takes it voluntarily! There's a word in capital letters...oooh it's an anagram! The maze is constructed in 9 parts...Maybe it's a code?!

In short, a huge disappointment. On the upside, maybe the movie with its not too shabby cast will inject the story with some life and be one of those movie adaptations that actually betters the book...

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