Deidre's Reviews > The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
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Mar 17, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: didn-t-live-up-to-hype
Read from March 15 to 16, 2012

I didn't hate this book.

That being said, I didn't love it either.

Main complaint: The characterization. Or total lack thereof, I should say. Dashner's characters are all flat, two-dimensional people that are impossible to empathize with. Thomas' character is supposed to be this bold, smart, and honorable individual, willing to selflessly make sacrifices for people he doesn't know, which should make him pretty likeable. I honestly didn't like him much. Well, to be more fair, I didn't feel much of anything for him, or any of the other characters. Alby and Newt were two that I mixed up a lot, and they didn't have any defining characteristics that set them apart and let them stand on their own. Minho was Asian, with big biceps.

Actually, most of the boys there had big biceps, so that wasn't a singularly defining characteristic of any character, now that I think about it. But basic body features seemed to be the extent of character development that happened throughout the book, and it was SERIOUSLY disappointing. Maybe I'm picky, but I like to care when characters die, and I like them to have some sort of intrinsic value. I wouldn't have cared if any of the main characters in "The Maze Runner" had died. Hell, I didn't even care when some actually DID die, to be honest.

Also, Dashner did not do a great job of writing in the direct threat to the Gladers, i.e., the Grievers. I couldn't get an accurate picture in my head of what exactly they looked like, and as a result, they weren't that menacing or dread-inducing to me. The descriptions of Thomas running from them in the maze weren't that scary. Even the descriptions later in the book of the battles between the Grievers and the Gladers, which were supposed to be big, epic, stomach-churning events, didn't elicit much excitement. (I actually skimmed through a lot of that, to be honest, just to get to the end faster.) I didn't feel any sort of scary connection with that "villain" at all, and was rather disappointed, because it left a lot to be desired in terms of the tension surrounding the fears about the Maze.

I also really disliked the random word usage that Dashner decided to invent. Seriously, Mr. Dashner, you are not writing "A Clockwork Orange"; you do not need to invent random, awkward slang terms for the Gladers to throw around like cuss words, because it either makes you look like you're trying to be TOO inventive, or you're just putting in words other than four-letter ones to try and keep the book appropriate to the age group for which you're writing. Whichever reason, I don't like starting a book and feeling like I have to think around the awkward slang terms and the unknowns presented. It just makes reading harder, and much more obnoxious. Totally unnecessary.

Now, what the author IS good at writing in is suspense based on surroundings. The entire premise of the Maze being a concoction of some unknown "Creators" who are just toying with the teenagers is a different, and very intriguing one. The Maze itself as written is a forbidding place in its own right, simply based on the idea of an inescapable, stone structure that is controlled by outside forces, and leaves those inside powerless. It lends to a very tangible sense of urgency, and the entire book follows that sense of urgency, using the surroundings and events (like the sky, the Box, the "Griever's Hole", etc.) to keep up a very good pace.

While the characters being much more developed would have made all of that AWESOMELY amazing (I really wish this idea had been thought up by someone who was much more skilled at developing character depth), the idea is a great one, and can stand alone on sheer entertainment value. The ONLY reason I'm moving on to the next book is to see what happens with the plot, actually, which says a lot, because I normally detest stories with weak characters, and won't continue reading a book without good characterization. I suppose there's an exception for everything in life at least once, though.
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