Friday, October 2, 2015

The Maze Runner

Some long time ago now, a fellow blogger sent me a recommendation for a series of books by James Dashner called The Maze Runner. I purchased the series shortly thereafter and it has sat in my library awaiting its turn in my reading queue. The first book in the series is entitled, The Maze Runner. The story falls into the now curiously well-populated genre of young adult post-apocalyptic dystopian science fiction (that is indeed a mouthful). This series is certainly unabashedly a close cousin to the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins and the Divergent series by Veronica Roth (among others). In many ways, The Maze Runner series is derivative, but it also has a unique voice and a building suspense that keeps one turning pages. However, compared to other books in the "young adult" category that still have mature scenes, this series is noticeably geared to younger readers. That is not meant to be a criticism, but the weave of the fabric is not as intricate and the colors are not as vibrant as some other young adult novels that I have read.

The story begins when a teenage boy named Thomas awakens in a dark elevator. His mind is a complete blank. After a while the elevator opens into a sizable expanse known as the glade. The glade is surrounded by massive walls. Contained within the walls are several dozen other teenage boys, all with similarly erased memories, some having survived in the glade for several years. Outside of the walls is a seemingly endless maze. The boys have organized a strong leadership, with each member given a specific role to serve the community. One group of boys is assigned to explore the maze by day to learn its secrets and to look for a way out. By night, the walls of the glade close and the massive maze rearranges itself. To be caught in the maze after hours is certain death due to the unspeakable monstrous grievers that patrol the space at night. Shortly after Thomas appears in the glade, the first girl is sent. She bears a sinister warning from the creators ... everything is about to change.

New arrivals to the glade are typically scared beyond measure, however even though Thomas has arrived with his mind completely emptied of memories, every now and then he has a nagging feeling that he has been in the glade and in the maze before. He works with the other boys who have been exploring the maze and comes to understand that the pattern of the maze is providing some sort of clue of how to escape. However, nobody has any idea why they have been taken from their past lives and put into this life or death game. Who could benefit be putting such young lives in harm's way? However, more than one of the boys has had visions that the creators who control the maze are trying to learn something important, but dreams can easily be dismissed in the immediate struggle to survive a harsh and alien existence. I now move onto the second part of the story in The Scorch Trials.