Dashner’s The Maze Runner is popular right now because the novel was turned in a movie, but I’m probably one of the few who thought this book was an epic fail. I tried really hard to enjoy this book, but it felt like I was struggling through mud the whole time.
The story centers around Thomas who arrives in a community of boys with his memory erased. He learns they are all trapped in a giant maze, which they must solve if they want to be freed. Everyone has a role to play: groundskeepers, law enforcers, cook, doctors, and runners. The maze runners are the most important among them. They risk their lives in the maze, trying to solve its secrets. Despite everyone’s hesitation to trust Thomas, he joins the runners to help them find a way out before they run out of time.
I bought this book a few years back before all the hype and tried to read it. I only managed to read the first chapter, having put it down because I didn’t feel like I could get into it or really connect with it. There just seemed to be better books out there worth my time. Once I heard the news The Maze Runner was being made into a movie, I tried to give the novel a go one more time since I’ve always tried to read the book first then go see the movie. The second time around I just had to push through the first chapter, hoping the rest of the story would get better.
The reader sees everything from Thomas’ perspective. When we first meet him, he is disoriented, being in a new place and hearing strange words, which are a part of a fabricated language the boys have made up. The reader can’t help but feel lost too.
The novel was more “tell,” then “show.” The issues may be due to the story being first-person narrative. Some authors are just better at balancing the internal and external information. In this novel, the reader is in Thomas’ head too much, listening to his struggles of what to do. There’s A LOT of withheld information which just drove me nuts during the whole story. The pacing was absolutely horrid too. Everything seems to drag on and on.
There’s only three moments that really stood out for me in the novel like when Thomas was first learning how the community worked, Thomas’ first time in the maze, and the ending. The rest of the story just seemed like filler. The only thing pushing me to finish the novel was to find out what his and Teresa’s secret was. Towards halfway of the novel, I started guessing what it may be. When there are a few conflicts and secrets in a novel, it does get boring fast. When an author presents a mystery to a reader, it is best to either best drop hints to allow them to solve it for themselves or tell them early on so they can better enjoy the character’s journey to finding answers. When readers are left in the dark too long, annoyance and frustration builds and there’s no longer enjoyment in reading the story.
I disliked most of the characters too. Thomas came across too perfect. He always seemed to know what to do, claiming every victory like defeating the “monsters” and ultimately solving the maze. It just made everyone else look dumb for all their hard work for the last two years. He seemed to solve it in two minutes. Then, there’s Teresa, who’s the only female character in this novel. She’s unconscious most of the time and doesn’t really do much except serve as Thomas’ love interest.
I felt bored with the story and the characters most of the time. I wasn’t even sure I’d actually finish the novel either. The last hundred pages were the hardest. I ended up speed reading it because I wanted to have nothing to do with the novel anymore.
I do not foresee myself reading the other books associated to this series since I had such a bad experience with the first novel. However, I do plan on seeing The Maze Runner movie and perhaps the sequels. Funny enough, I heard the movie is better than the book, which is rare in the book community. However I saw glimpses of that in the trailer, such as Teresa recognizing Thomas right away instead of their bond being a complete mystery for quite a while. The movie seems to be more proactive and fast-paced.
If you are curious to read The Maze Runner, I recommend borrowing it from the library to see if you personally enjoy it. As for me, I’ll stick to the movies this time around.