Sunday, October 26, 2014

Book Review: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner by

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I spent the entire time I read this being slightly confused. A boy named Thomas wakes up on a moving platform without most of his memories. When it finally stops, he realizes that it's been an elevator. He's greeted by a bunch of boys who speak English, but with a few made-up words. Even though he can't remember anything, he feels like he understands or has repressed memories of the place. The elevator is in the center and it's a big, flat place with a farm in one corner, a forest in another. The place also has a cemetery, a crudely constructed multi-story building, and a few cinderblock buildings, one he learns is a jail, another a room where maps are kept. The entire area is like a box with no lid - vertical walls extend up on all sides over a hundred feet tall.

On each of the four walls, a vertical slit leads into a maze. The boys have determined that the maze is 8 times the size of the space they live in (think of a tic-tac-toe board). Every night, the slits close and the maze is reconfigured.

Their life is one of routine and rules. Everyone has assigned duties. Supplies arrive in the lift on a regular basis. Try to escape via the lift and something slices you in half. But you can ask for stuff (like running shoes) and it's delivered with the supplies.

Every day, "runners" go into the maze. Their job is to explore the maze and document what's changed. The belief is that somehow, somewhere, there's a way out. For over two years they've been at it. No contact with the outside world, no knowledge except for that which they discover themselves. Oh, and there's monsters in the maze - creatures that are part slug, part mechanical beings. If encountered during the day, you can usually get away and get out of the maze, but you do not want to remain in the maze overnight, you will not survive and the next day the runners will be cleaning you up off the maze floor and bringing you back to bury you in the cemetery with all the other boys who have died. If the monsters prick you with one of their spikes, you will have all sorts of scary hallucinations and be mentally unstable for a few days. Boys who have gone through that say they'd rather die.

The new guy Thomas isn't content to slowly learn, he's anxious to get started. He wants to be a runner. He riles everyone up because he's not interested in the rules and order. He gets things done and by ignoring the rules he discovers things about where they live that no one else has. Not too soon after he arrives, an unconscious girl arrives in the lift. A note in her hand says that the end is coming. Between Thomas' failure to follow the rules, the arrival of the girl and the happenings that begin to, well, happen, the other boys are for the most part angry and distrustful of Thomas and don't believe he knows as little as he claims.

I couldn't quite picture the monsters, I couldn't quite fathom the scale of their prison and the weird language the boys spoke threw me. The ending was also a bit frustrating. This won't be a series I continue to read. However, I am curious about the movie because maybe it will help fill in the gaps for me that evaded my imagination. If it's good, maybe I'll pick up the second book (which is also currently being turned into a movie).

The Maze Runner (Amazon.com)
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