Book Review: The Maze Runner
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To tell the truth, I expected a lot from this book, especially that the idea of a maze that changes every night is a highly intriguing concept. The movie adaptation, which I now realized did not entirely stayed loyal to the book, also did not help as I previously thought it was an awesome film (What, did you expect me to not like it when I can see Dylan O'Brien's face for the entire duration of the movie?). However, now that I've finally had the time to pick up The Maze Runner by James Dashner and have perused it over the course of three days (three days, can you believe that? I've never gone that long to finish a book!), I realize that perhaps I expected too greatly.
When I first started reading the book, I candidly did not enjoy it. I constantly found myself reading one or two chapters, then closing the book to go and do something else. I did not relish the first several chapters because I think that the story is going too slow for me. The narration goes at a plodding pace. There is a lot of repetition going on, mostly the parts where Dashner keeps mentioning how Thomas can remember the basics of life, like, what a hamburger is, what theatres are, but he cannot remember his family, his home, or who Thomas was with when he ate a hamburger or when he went to the theatre to catch a movie. Nonetheless, by somewhere near the middle of the book, when the actual content of the Maze is finally involved, that is when I found myself resisting the temptation to put the book down and give my eyes its much needed rest. The characters are suddenly interlaced with a lot of action and mystery and puzzling clues, which are often times the key elements that I always look for in a good book.
The Maze, overall, is one clever idea. Dashner has managed to create this harrowing puzzle that changes course every night, and is filled with ghastly creatures called Grievers. However, as slick as the idea is, I honestly feel like I would have liked The Maze Runner better had Thomas and his co-Runner Minho did not move in one specific area in the Maze. The route to the Cliff seems to be too "easy," so to say. I get it--I get that Minho have been mapping the Maze for two years and have the entire route memorized, thus the Cliff being easy to navigate, but I personally think that it would be more adventurous if the other sections of the Maze were also explored, not just mentioned. I think that it would have made the Maze sound even more intimidating and difficult.
Dashner's writing is simple with few prosaic similes. His choice of wording and sentence structure is easy to read, nevertheless, lacking words that sound almost too foreign that you have to pick up a dictionary as though to make sure the word actually exists in the English language--which is a good thing because, hey, less time browsing through the dictionary and more time to indulge in the story! Dashner's characters, however, have a certain diction that is kind of hard to understand in the beginning. Words like "shank," "splinthead," "shuck-face," "Greenie," and "klunk," were honestly hard for me to get used to. It makes me wonder how the early habitants of the Glade came up with those words--how they came up with their own language.
Notwithstanding the specific things that I did not like about the book, I cannot help but admire how Thomas's character can evoke emotions so easily. As I was reading the book, I felt irritated sometimes at Thomas's constant nagging, but it's so understandable because if you would just put yourself in Thomas's shoes, you'll also be asking tons of queries about what is going on. The way I see it, it is always good for an author to elicit emotions from their audience--whether it be sympathy, anger, irritation, love, or whatever, because that's when you would know that your writing is working. It's doing something that makes it capable of producing such reactions from their readers. Dashner is able to work that magic with me because I found it easy to connect with Thomas, to Newt, and to the other characters, no matter how shallow and cruel they seemed to be in the book.
As far as recommending The Maze Runner, if you are someone who is looking for a book with little to no romance at all and you just want to read something adventurous, The Maze Runner is the perfect novel to pick up. It may start out slow, but it eventually picks up pace once the real deal begins. Although I did not enjoy the book as much as I imagined I would, The Maze Runner is still promising with its heart-pounding action scenes and mystery that makes you want to either stay clear of the Maze or enter it and face the horror it houses.