Maze Runner #1
A young teenage boy named Thomas awakes in a strange and foreign place with strangers all around him. The strangers call the area the Glade, and they are all young boys. No parents, no adults, nothing. Thomas learns that the Glade is located at the centre of a maze, and that the youngsters all have jobs to sustain everyone around them, from farming to keeping cattle to building. An important division of theirs is called the Runners, and these guys explore the Maze daily, desperately looking for a way out. Thomas has no memory before arriving at the Glade, and lives in a state of extreme fear, and nobody seems willing to answer his questions. The Maze, on the other hand, seems to have other plans. Locking everyone into the Glade at night, nobody can re-enter the Maze, which shifts itself about at night, creating a new map to explore the following day. At night, too, some dangerous creatures seem to lurk within the Maze.
Another young Glader named Chuck befriends Thomas, and he fluctuates between wanting total isolation as well as wanting a friend. Chuck seems to fit the bill. After Thomas’s arrival, things start to go strange. For instance, he almost instantly becomes the nemesis of Gally, an older boy, who detests him on sight. When things start going strange and changing in the Glade, Gally accuses Thomas, saying he remembers him but cannot place him, and he knows it isn’t good. Thomas shakes it off, and has his heart set on becoming a Runner, to help solve the Maze, but it seems the chances of that happening are minimal. However, one day the camp leader Alby and Keeper of the Runners, Minho, return to the gates of the Maze but won’t make it in time. Thomas decides to violate the Number One Rule of the Glade: he enters the Maze to help the boys, though the chances of surviving the night are microscopic. Thomas refuses to accept this, and does his utmost to survive.
Naturally, Thomas, Minho and Alby survive the night, and Alby is able to get some medication that he needs to save him after being stung by one of the deadly Grievers, the creatures from the Maze. When he comes to, he is changed, and treats Thomas just as suspiciously as Gally. Minho, on the other hand, believes that Thomas might be their best hope, and Newt, Alby’s second in command, seems to agree with this for the most part. However, the Creators, the people that put all the kids in the Glade, send up a girl named Teresa one day, and say they will no longer be sending up any more kids. Teresa triggers the end of something, and the Glade goes mad. The Gladers have to find a way out, and they have to do it soon. Thomas feels a strange connection with Teresa, though he does not understand it, he is too scared to share his thoughts on the matter.
What is this connection between Thomas and Teresa? Who put all the kids in the Glade? What is going on? Will they find a way out of the Maze? Did Teresa trigger the end? Why does bad stuff keep happening in the Glade since Thomas arrived? Why is he treated like a traitor at the best of times? What is the point of the Maze?
Well, I watched the movie first before getting to this, and I liked it well enough. I thought the concept was good, and I was horrified that I had not read the books before watching. I have no defence. At any rate, getting started on the book, the one thing that I can give it is that it is not a particularly long read, though it takes only a few pages to start working on your absolute last nerve. I am not a fan of Dashner’s writing style, and I was particularly peeved that so many of the characters spoke like “gettin'” and “runnin'” and the likes. Plus two, it is you, not ya at every thing. I was unimpressed with how much “cussing” and “swearing” this lot did with the usage of words like klunk, shuck-face, and shank. It got grating and annoying, and while I understand these books are marketed for young adults, there is not darn reason in the world that there needed to be so much slang thrown in in ridiculous ways. The book could totally have done without it. And every time I read “good that” I thought I was going to chuck my Kindle. Now, don’t get me wrong, not everything was bad. While the characters were not as fleshed out and as layered as I hoped, and the book took the mystery far too seriously with way too little payback and shallow relationships, the concept itself was very good. I think it has a lot of potential, and I would love to see how the story plays out over and beyond this, even though the pacing is odd and the characters are bland. I was not a fan of Teresa, either, who could have been a strong female lead and instead was just… hollow. I was not impressed. All the characters are flat, I suppose, but then she is just meh and pretty, no more. She felt forced. I also didn’t actually feel anything for anyone or the situation they found themselves in. Dashner didn’t convey emotion and feeling, he just tells you what’s going on the whole time, which meant I couldn’t get lost in the story, which is a real shame.