Review | The Maze Runner by James Dashner

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“You are the shuckiest shuck faced shuck in the world!”

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If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

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Dylan O’Brien as Thomas almost makes me like the character more…

The Maze Runner in a nutshell:

Chilling in a Glade,
Running in a Maze.

It truly does upset me to face the reality of how I feel about this book now, but I need to say it. I don’t like The Maze Runner nearly as much as I used to. There, it’s out! In all fairness, this was only the second young-adult dystopian novel I had read at the time (the first being The Hunger Games). I was young. I was naive. Back then I wouldn’t dwell on the author’s writing style or his character development. I didn’t care about, much less notice, plot holes and amateur writing. It truly amazes me that I didn’t realize how two-dimensional Thomas was or how the writing was barely tolerable the first time I read it. I know I’m making this seem as though I hate it now, but I still like the book. It’s original, suspenseful, and has several likable characters.

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“He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.”

I always liked the concept of Lord of the Flies, which the author states was his inspiration for The Maze Runner, but it overall left me unsatisfied. The premise for The Maze Runner however, is incredibly intriguing: a group of teenage boys without any memories, trapped in a maze. At first I thought it sounded interesting enough, but something was stopping me from reading it right away. I guess I assumed it was too out of the ordinary to begin reading right away. I’m pretty sure my initial thought of the Maze Runner before reading the synopsis was something like this.

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Made this myself.

The reader has no idea what’s happening from the start, and I will tell you straight out that it gets frustrating. Not a single soul will answer any of Thomas’ questions. Hey, I just got stranded here with the rest of you, and I’d like to know WHY! But, as annoying as that is, it’s also one of my favorite aspects of the book. I needed to know what on earth was going on just as much as Thomas, and I wasn’t putting the book down until I found out, though it did drag on a little too long, if you ask me. Also, I imagine it’d be pretty funny if I was a teenage guy and don’t remember seeing a girl until Teresa showed up…

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According to psychological studies, the average person prefers to have bad news before good news. Hmph, very well. Let’s start with our oh so special snowflake.

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Thomas. 

When I first read Maze Runner I thought he was okay, now however…I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Thomas is one of the most underdeveloped two-dimensional protagonists ever. What Dashner fails to realize is that there is a fine line between bravery and stupidity. Nearly every heroic, self-sacrificing act Thomas commits in the book is just plain stupid, unrealistic, and frankly, suicidal.

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Teresa.

I’ve always hated Teresa. She serves no purpose to the plot whatsoever, except to be Thomas’ insta-love interest. Why??? Why does there always need to be a love interest in every one of these teen dystopian novels! If she was actually a useful character I wouldn’t have minded her as much, but she isn’t. Character development? I don’t recall any. Zero. Zip. Nada. She has personality…but it is that of an absolute shuck-face. I love to have a kick-butt female heroine, but she’s just a down-right jerk. “Ah, my Knight in Shining Armor. What, you don’t think I can fend for myself?” Who the heck does she think she is?

“You’re disgusting when you eat,” Chuck said. “It’s like watching a starving pig eat his own klunk.”

Chuck. 

Chuck was awesome! If you ask me, Thomas didn’t give Chuck the time of day (another reason to hate him), but every time Chuck made an appearance I would quite complaining and listen up. It’s not necessarily that Chuck was the funniest character ever, but he’s just so darn, likable. Oh, and the actor who portrays him in the movie is perfect. Just thought I’d point that out.  

“Shouldn’t someone give a pep talk or something?” Minho asked.
“Go ahead,” Newt replied.
Minho nodded and faced the crowd. “Be careful,” he said dryly. “Don’t die.”

Minho. 

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What can I say? I love him! Sarcastic, snarky guys are my favorite! His remarks were the best. I actually liked it when Minho made that less than noble decision in the Maze. That was realistic! I don’t entirely agree with him, but it proved he isn’t a perfect little angel (like a certain other person…named Thomas)  Also, thank you James Dashner, for not naming him Kai. Is it just me, or why does it seem like every Asian guy is named Kai or Ky?!

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Newt. 

Newt was pretty amazing too. He was the voice of reason in this book, whenever Thomas suggested something, well…as Newt would say, bloody stupid, he’s the one who slapped some sense into him. I think I liked Minho slightly more than Newt, but I liked them both, quite a bit.

As for the other characters, I wish they were developed more, but they were all so boring that I couldn’t care less. Gally was interesting, but wasn’t in the book that much – a shame really, because it would’ve made the last part of the book all the more emotional.

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I didn’t really pay attention to writing until I actually tried to write a book last year. In doing so, I realized that it’s surprisingly pretty hard to write a full-length novel. I have the beginning and the end, now what do I fill in-between…The number one rule of writing is to show don’t tell. Dashner just tells the reader what’s happening and how Thomas is feeling. I know this probably didn’t bug that many people, but it’s just a huge pet peeve of mine. However, I do like the slang. It was amusing.

-Newt, Minho, and Chuck. As awful as Thomas and Teresa were, these three make this book worth reading.

-The originality of the story. There are a few plot holes and deus ex machina  moments that really irritated me, but the concept of The Maze Runner was unique.

-I liked how the characters weren’t invincible. They got injured, some died, and that was realistic.

-The fact that Thomas has no memory. Yes, it’s a little cliche, but as a huge fan of the Bourne Identity movies, I really like reading about amnesiacs.

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-Thomas, Thomas, Thomas, Thomas, and Thomas. I feel like half my review all I’ve been doing is ranting about him, but he’s so annoying!

The insta-love. Ugh, don’t even get me started on this. In all fairness, Thomas and Teresa don’t decide to make out when there are more important things at hand, but it really bugged me that Teresa existed at all. The story could’ve been exactly the same if she was never even a part of it! If you want to have a heroine in your story, please make her useful!

-I can’t get over the fact that all the Gladers are supposedly the most intelligent teenagers in the world, and yet, they couldn’t connect the dots and figure this out:

World
In
Catastrophe
Killzone
Experiment
Department
=
WICKED

Really? Fifty of the smartest kids in the world can’t solve this 1st grade riddle!? It’s clear as day! And who was the genius who decided to name an organization WICKED?

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***MAJOR SPOILERS***

(Highlight over section to view)

Telepathy! Isn’t is so convenient that Thomas and Teresa are telepathic and that the plot magically unfolds after Thomas gets stung by a griever? A little too convenient for my liking.

***END OF SPOILERS***

The writing. *sigh*

-The grievers aren’t that frightening. Sure, it’s cool that they’ve got blades and other pokey needles, but I find it a little hard to be terrified of a slug. I’m not saying I wouldn’t run the hell away from one if I saw it, but I think they would’ve been much more frightening if they were fully mechanical. This isn’t necessarily a big deal, but the way they look in the movie is a thousand times cooler than they were described in the book.

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See???

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I think what really infuriates me about this book, is that it had so much potential. If a different author wrote this, I think it could’ve been outstanding. I really liked the concept, a few of the characters, and the setting, but it’s overall a very mediocre read. Despite it’s flaws, The Maze Runner was still a fun read that I’d recommend to newer fans of YA dystopias. I’m really looking forward to the prequel, The Fever Code in 2016. It’s confirmed that it will be in other characters’ point of views!

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Oh man, that could be good. Imagine being in Newt’s head…

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12 thoughts on “Review | The Maze Runner by James Dashner

  1. Completely agree with you. The so much potential and it’s let down by bad writing and character development. To me, it’s even worse than it being a plain old bad book.

    I think I hated Theresa from the moment she turned up just because I know why she was there.

    I’m really tired of the whole they have a love interest thing for no reason. Why do writers/ film makers insist on having a romantic element if it’s not needed?

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh man! The writing was by far the worst part of this book. It was so difficult for me to get past all the nonsensical words created in order to give the book it’s blatantly obvious ‘dystopian’ feel. So, cliche that it’s annoying. Additionally, the rest of the writing style is quite dry, which could very well be because it’s coming from Thomas’ POV.

    Honestly, I can’t remember disliking him that much. Though, I agree that Teresa was not relevant enough in my mind to be important. Her character was unnecessary. It barely pushed the plot at all, if at all.

    P.s. Everyone loves Minho and Newt. :p

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really amazes me how I didn’t notice how awful the writing was the first time I read this book. Yea, everyone’s gotta love Minho and Newt, haha. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! I think it might have to do with age and experience with books and different writing styles. After all, our voices progress as we grow older. No doubt, that plays a big role in how we view books. (Can’t really say. I’ve never re-read a book yet. Hee hee)

        P.s. I was wondering if you got my e-mail about being a guest blogger. If you don’t have time, that’s totally fine. I just wanted to make sure you had received it. ^.^

        Liked by 1 person

      2. True. And how have you never re-read a book? lol.

        Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, I hadn’t checked my blog email in ages – I was completely unaware of your email! I just read it, and I’d love to do it! 😀 Please let me know when (I promise I’ll check my email more often!).

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Bahaha! I’ve never re-read a book for two reasons 1) I lack time (okay really I spend it doing other things >.>) and 2) school has often killed my desire to read. I have periods in my life where I just… didn’t read. So, I’m currently like… six years behind on popular books. :p I’m catching up and maybe then I’ll have time to re-read. I already have a list of books I’d like to re-read. *fingers crossed*

        ^.^ That’s totally fine. I’m glad this was an opportunity to let you know about it. You’re welcome to email me back your post with a short author bio any time before January 1st. If you have any more questions or need a little more time, let me know via email. I check mine every day. ^.^

        Liked by 1 person

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