Read in August, 2009 – ARC received from the publisher (the cover is just black with white text so I like seeing the published cover)
In the beginning of James Dashner’s first book in a new trilogy, The Maze Runner, Thomas wakes up inside a dark box and has no idea where he is, or who he is. He soon finds himself pulled out of the box into a courtyard and greeted by many other teenage boys. He soon learns that the boys have all arrived the same way and, like him, cannot remember anything about who they are except their names.
Thomas begins to find his place in the day-to-day life of this strange place. They live and work in a walled in area, and each boy has a job he must do. Cook, farm, build – the usual tasks in a community. One group has a special job – the maze runners. Outside of their walls lies a maze that they have never found a solution to. The runners go through it every day, returning each night to share what they discovered. Every night, the walls move and these strange creatures come out and will kill any boy they come across within the maze, so it is important no one spends the night outside of the walls.
After Thomas’ arrival, things begin to change. One of the other boys swears he recognizes him. The next person to arrive via the dark box is not a boy, but a teenage girl with a surprising message. Can the maze be solved? Is it possible to escape this strange place alive? Who are they and why are they all there?
I had a difficult time getting into this at first. Part of it was getting used to the slang the boys use, which is unique to their world. I’m not sure why I had a hard time with it since I don’t remember struggling with the slang in Uglies or Feed. I think I also had a hard time adjusting to the world, which is probably similar to the adjustment the characters go through when they arrive. I did eventually get into it and then didn’t put it down until I finished it that same day. I liked the characters of Thomas, Chuck, and Minho. I am not sold on Teresa. It is inevitable that this book will be compared to The Hunger Games due to the all-teenage-fight-for-survival, but it can also be a Lord of the Flies readalike with the (almost) all male cast of characters and the power struggles that occur.
It is a certain cliffhanger, and I can’t wait to see where it picks up. With the way the book ends, there are a lot of different ways it could go. I’ll be buying this for our school library, and it would be a great middle school read, too. There is some violence, but nothing graphic, and no bad language (the slang they uses fills in for our bad words) or sex.