The Maze Runner by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up, he finds himself in a box surrounded by teenage kids.  The weird thing is he has no recollection of how he got there.  Thomas soon finds out he is stuck in a horrifying and confusing new world where he is surrounded by shifting mazes.  And the secret to escape is locked up deep inside his mind.  The Maze Runner is a brilliant thriller by James Dashner (author of 13th Reality) that will have you begging for more.

When Thomas finds himself in a box in the ground, he quickly has to adapt.  He is pulled into a world where no one can remember what happened in their life before the maze, only brief flashes of insignificant images.  Thomas joins a group of adolescents who are stuck in the maze, led by a hothead named Alby.  At first Thomas is extremely upset and confused, since he can’t remember how he got there.  Unfortunately for him, things will only get worse.

Thomas quickly befriends a boy named Chuck, a slopper, one of the low-level jobs in the maze.   The children in the maze lead as normal a life as possible, following rules and holding jobs.  Thomas is immediately fascinated by the most important job, maze runner.  The maze runners are the best of the best, children who are selected by the leaders of the community to run all day and map out the impossible maze–and to try and find a way out.

Unfortunately, the kids have no idea what’s in store for them.  One day, someone  new is dropped off in the box.  This would be normal, except there are several problems.  The kid is a girl, the first girl ever in the maze and the second kid in the last two days. The children are used to getting one a month.  But there is an even bigger problem.  The girl is dead.  Or so they think.

The Maze Runner was a very interesting book.  I give it an 8.5 out of 10. The only reason it gets an 8.5 is because of the slow beginning.  Once it picked up, it was an extremely exciting book with lots of unexpected twists and turns.  The ending leaves you hanging but is very suspenseful and makes you beg for the sequel, which should hit stores in fall of 2010.

You feel like you are walking in the characters’ shoes even though you never get to know most of them extremely well.  You learn nothing of Thomas and his past, but that is part of the story line of the book.  The book includes lots of details and describes most things well.  However, you don’t feel as though the monsters Dashner describes in the story, grievers, are quite as ferocious as they are supposed to be.  Still, there is much more good than bad in this book.

Again, the beginning starts a little slow but once it picks up you can do nothing but go along for the ride.  You will get completely hooked by this book, and can feel the characters’ anger, pain and excitement as they fight for their lives in the winding maze they inhabit.

This book draws startling parallels to another book I reviewed, The Hunger Games, because of character similarities and the fact that the kids are in a maze and have to kill or be killed.  Also, both groups of kids are either specially selected or trained to fight, and end up battling against the totalitarian government that created them.  I think that The Maze Runner will receive the same critical acclaim that The Hunger Games did and could be a breakout book of 2010.

The Maze Runner is for kids 10 and up.  It isn’t incredibly long, only about 350 pages, but has some gore and lots of action as the kids fight monsters and other opponents.  My biggest criticism is that the book ended, and I have to wait for the sequel, The Scorch Trials, to hit shelves in the fall of 2010.

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