Wednesday, 29 October 2014

James Dashner- The Maze Runner

Recently released at the cinema, and billed as the new Hunger Games, I thought I should give The Maze Runner a chance. I discovered that the comparisons to The Hunger Games (a book and film series I adore) are totally inaccurate. The Maze Runner has a similar set up, a group of young adults trapped in a deadly arena, but it is a much poorer book than Hunger Games.

The Maze Runner, UK edition, James Dashner, review, book review, blog, photo, plot synopsis


The Plot: Thomas wakes up disoriented, with no memories in the middle of the Glade. The Glade is populated by a community of teenage boys, surrounded by an ever-shifting maze. Mechanical creatures called Grievers roam the maze, killing anyone who finds themselves still in the maze after sundown. Each month a new boy arrives in the maze through the 'box'. The day after Thomas' arrival comes another unexpected newcomer- a girl. She holds in her hand a note that reads 'She's the last one EVER'. The appearance of the girl is a catalysis for change, and the boys increase their efforts to escape the maze, before it can claim more lives.  

Rating: 1.5/5 
*spoilers warning* 
The Maze Runner is a chaotic book. It's like the author James Dashner had about 50 ideas and decided to try and cram them all into one novel, without proper consideration. The result is the story felt cluttered, individual characters and plot-lines didn't have room to develop. It's hyperactive, and has no suspense or tension. 

There's the whole trying to escape from the maze thing, then the Grievers, then something to do with a nuclear apocalypse, then some infighting between the boys, then some telepathy, then something to do with military experimentation. It just goes on and on, getting more complicated, but not getting any more interesting.  It gave me a headache.   
picture source 

Also, Dashner seems to have just plagiarised the best ideas from a list of other authors and then mashed it all together. Young boys castaway and forced to form their own community (Lord of the Flies). Children killing children in an arena (The Hunger Games/ Battle Royale). Invention of slang, plus the impact of a girl in a male-only world (The Chaos Walking Trilogy). 

As a hero, I didn't warm to Thomas. He was just too perfect, he's meant to be an athletic genius that is also all noble and self-sacrificing.  It makes him as a character to be very one-note, his perfection is boring. He also has an extremely irritating side-kick, Chuck, who's meant to annoying in a cute, inquisitive younger brother kind of way, but he is just a straight up irritation. 

Teresa also got on my nerves. She's the only female character in the book, and she's silently in a coma for most of it.  Which is just typical really, it's the smurfette principle all over again. I hope this isn't going to be a common trope in YA fiction, under-represented women, who aren't given a voice (I've expressed my anger about this before in my review of Chaos Walking). 

If I were you- I'd skip The Maze Runner and go re-read The Hunger Games.  

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