Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
SciFi Element: Futuristic, Apocalypse
Series: Maze Runner #1
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There was much hype surrounding The Maze Runner upon it’s release in 2009. I had been slavering to read it also, especially after seeing the “movie” promo that coincided with it’s release. Quite compelling. But, did the book live up to the hype? It was good, yes, but did I run out and scream at literate people to read the book? No. I really think I did this one an injustice by listening to it on audio book while reading Divergent in book format. The Maze Runner just paled in comparison. The Maze Runner had an excellent and compelling story backing it, had worthy characters backing up the competent writing and even left me a little breathless in certain places, but it just didn’t have that little extra that made it a great dystopian.


Thomas comes to consciousness in an elevator. He is pulled into a fake world, greeted by dirty boys his age that look at him either with eagerness, as if he were a new puppy, or with distrust and open hatred. They talk strangely, using slang words he hasn’t heard before and treat him as if he is an annoyance. Their attitude is “catch up quickly or die” and as night falls and screams can be heard from the only structure in this strange clearing, Thomas knows something is really wrong with his new world.

Thomas’ new world is surrounded by walls and a maze. There is no way out, but it doesn’t stop the boys from trying desperately to find their way out. There are heinous creatures that occupy his world. Bulbous and hideous creatures that stab you with needles or drag you away into the night. If you survive their attack you become infected and have to go through a long torturous period where you change into something else. Thomas can’t remember his past, he barely remembers his own name…but he does know one thing, he needs to find a way out of this Maze.

Lord of the Flies meets Ender’s Game in this dystopian mystery adventure. I don’t think it is high comparison to the two but it is reminiscent. The whole novel had a LOTF’s type feel because of the strange slang and silly young teen boy behavior. I think it was this typical male behavior of the characters that most irritated me about this novel. The voice was so very adolescent male – which made sense since he was the narrator, but while he was supposed to be a leader and courageous – I felt only scared little boy within the writing. I don’t want to read about a little boy. I might if I were a little boy, but adult, female me, does not. I don’t know what to do with a little boy.

I want to read about perfect, teen, male heroes. Is that wrong? So begins the discussion…

I’ve gotten into a few discussion with other readers about some of our favorite male teen heros. These characters are mostly created by female authors, they imagine these perfect teen male heros that we fall in love with so easily. Beautiful boys with hearts of gold like Sam from Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls) and speaking of shivering who can forget Jace from the Mortal Instruments series?

These boys are larger than life and meant to be erected onto pedestals and worshipped by massive groupings of teen girls and the occasional sprinkling of housewives. Yet, are they real? Do these boys exist IRL? I have a few boys in my own life. Two or three of them are rock stars. They fly F-16s for the USAF, they care for their children better than the moms, dedicating their lives to causes other than their own selfish whims…these are real men in my life (they are in their 20s, 30s & 40s), but I also knew them as teenagers and they were idiots. One in fact got me evicted out of my apartment for throwing a party because he knew where I hid my key (love you bro!). They were arrested for fighting, peeing in public and wrecked numerous cars, totally braindead. So, when a male author like Dashner comes upon us and creates these silly male teens, acting like teen boys should, faced with a life and death scenario, why can’t I get into the characters? These boys should feel so much more real than our drool recipients in female written love stories. Case in point, I also read Divergent at the same time, reading Maze Runner, and Tobias (the male protag) was perfection wrapped up in tattooed 18 year old hotness, he made Tommy look like a 6 year old! Is it that I’m so in-love with this female author, inspired, perfect male boy? The teen boy that acts like the 30 year old man that I mentally need, but looks like the 18 year old stud that I want? Is my prejudice so great that I just can’t get into more “real” teen characters? Or are Dasher’s characters just bleh? Highly materialistic of me wouldn’t you say if it were the former? But, I must not be alone? How else would you describe the phenom of Twilight and housewives?

So this leads me to the question. Are we just in some hormonally charged, housewife, la la land? Or are there really highly mature teenage boys out there? Ones that aren’t only thinking one thing? Ones that don’t have that perpetual sprinkling of weeping acne…but on top of it aren’t dumb as rocks? I think these over-the-top heros might be strictly a creation of the romantic minds of female young adult authors and I am saddened by this. If there are boys out there like this, like Jace, Sam, Ash, Nick, Nash, Tobias….are they like the Yetti? Spotted occasionally but never proven to exist? Have you know one in real life? I haven’t. I’ve seen rare moments of humanity in teen boys, but it usually degrades the moment they get around their friends or a hot girl…

Back to the review. It was a good book. Besides my taste in the diction and mentality of the narrator, I liked the world building, it was compelling and sinister and woven nicely. I shiver at the thought of what society would do to children for the greater good, because it is true, fear does strange things to people and you give up rights very easily during times of fear. Look at everything we’ve given up since 9-11. Taken a plane ride lately? Dashner did a fabulous job conveying that fear and putting it into light. The only thing that I think he failed to do was explain. The characters were left completely in the dark and by the end of the novel I was hoping for just a glimmer of understanding but I found none. It left me we nothing…only a forced compulsion to maybe read book two to find answers. I like trilogies, but I would like a bit of knowledge at the end of the book.

For mature teen audiences, I think this will be more enjoyable by teen males than most the YA I review on this blog. Fans of Lord of the Flies, Incarceron and The Percy Jackson series should enjoy.