As you may have noticed if you’ve gone into a library or a bookstore and perused the Young Adult section, there is no shortage of dystopian fiction. Divergent by Veronica Roth, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, Legend by Marie Lu, and Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi are some of the ones these bloggers have read, but there many more out there. And due to popular trends, many of these dystopian novels are getting the silver screen treatment. One of these books is The Maze Runner by James Dashner.
The Maze Runner is about a boy named Thomas who wakes up in a strange place called the Glade. It’s enclosed by giant stone walls and filled with boys of various friendliness. The boys live in the Glade, all working different positions, like the “runners”. The runners go out each day beyond the walls where a large maze encompasses the area. The walls change every day, so the runners are charged with mapping it out each day so they can try to find a way out of this place. The dangerous part is the Grievers, spiderlike creatures that like to kill. The mysterious part is that the boys can’t remember anything from their lives before they came to the Glade and they don’t know who put them there. All they know is that they want out.
Then a girl shows up, and she seems to know Thomas. Thomas feels like he knows her, but he’s still in the dark. But now he knows that their time in the Glade is limited and they need to get out now.
There are some good elements about The Maze Runner. There’s a Lord of the Flies feel to the dynamics of the boys. The whole point of the dystopian genre is to comment on society, and Dashner manages to make a small comment on society through the group of boys. But even though the concept is interesting, this was not my favorite dystopian novel. The writing can be off-putting, and the central characters are undeveloped. It’s the kind of book that fills the space if you’re on a dystopian binge and reading everything you can get your hands on. But if you’re a more discerning reader, take a pass on this one and try another book. There are lots of dystopian novels out there, and most of them are probably better than this one.
But, despite the book’s weaknesses, the movie, which comes out later this month, promises to be rather exciting. Dylan O’Brien (of MTV’s Teen Wolf) heads up the cast as Thomas, starring alongside Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Love Actually, Game of Thrones) and Will Poulter (Voyage of the Dawn Treader). This cast of young but talented boys, with Kaya Scoldelario as the girl Teresa, are a promising lead on the movie. So hopefully it will be good!