"The Maze Runner" is a young adult adventure story set sometime in the future. It also has an element of mystery. Since the characters were all boys (except for one girl who didn't play an active role until near the end), the target audience appears to be teen boys. The suspense mainly came from the physical danger to the characters, but it also came from the lack of memories and the mystery of the maze. This book is the first in a trilogy, and it's a fast read.
The characters were varied, and they had their strengths and weaknesses and their emotional ups and downs. Even the "bad" kids had good reasons for their actions. I mainly kept reading because I wanted to know what was going on, but I also liked how Thomas, Minho, and Newt played off each other. Thomas had a needed fresh perspective and heroic selflessness, but he wouldn't have succeeded without Newt's insistence on order and Minho's discipline.
However, I didn't like the ending. At all. The story started out as brave, determined kids working together to outwit the evil adults who put them in the maze. But near the end, we're told the very sick reason that they were put there (though the reasoning seemed illogical). The adults were deliberately trying to break the kids by taking away their hope. They wanted the kids to give up and die, and they were deliberately killing off all but a "top" few. The ending was very violent and bloody. Two main characters were killed, one of them likely to be a favorite of the reader (though I liked them both). Also, Thomas started off caring and noble and ended up broken and hate-filled. Things don't get better, they get worse. Not my kind of book.
I also didn't find the climatic maze battle exciting. Thomas was supposed to be focused on doing his part and doing it as quickly as possible since it would end the killing that was going on. Instead he took in every little bloody detail of the killing going on. There was no need to spend so much time on it. I felt frustrated and angry at Thomas and Teresa instead of worried about them. By the end, I felt like throwing the book at a wall.
There was a very minor amount of explicit bad language and a lot of totally made-up bad language. There was no sex. Overall, I wouldn't recommend this novel.
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Debbie White (GenreReviewer)
I review books, do organic gardening (vegetables, fruit trees, etc.), mentor a young lady, and work with inmates at the local jail and state prison units. I live in a passive solar house (with an active … more
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Grade 6–10—Thomas wakes up in an elevator, remembering nothing but his own name. He emerges into a world of about 60 teen boys who have learned to survive in a completely enclosed environment, subsisting on their own agriculture and supplies from below. A new boy arrives every 30 days. The original group has been in "the glade" for two years, trying to find a way to escape through a maze that surrounds their living space. They have begun to give up hope. Then a comatose girl arrives with a strange note, and their world begins to change. There are some great, fast-paced action scenes, particularly those involving the nightmarish Grievers who plague the boys. Thomas is a likable protagonist who uses the information available to him and his relationships (including his ties to the girl, Teresa) to lead the Gladers. Unfortunately, the question of whether the teens will escape the maze is answered 30 pages before the book ends, and the intervening chapter loses momentum. The epilogue, which would be deliciously creepy coming immediately after the plot resolves, fails to pack a punch as a result. That said,The Maze Runnerhas a great hook, and fans of dystopian literature, particularly older fans of Jeanne DuPrau'sThe City of Ember(Random, 2003), will likely enjoy this title and ask for the inevitable sequel.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OHEND