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Mazes and Monsters

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  457 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Four university friends, obsessed with a fantasy, role-playing game delve into the darkest parts of their minds and carry the game one terrible step too far.
Mass Market Paperback, 329 pages
Published July 15th 1982 by Dell (first published 1981)
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Showing 1-30
3.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  457 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Mike (the Paladin)
Nov 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
This thing was sooooo noticed in it's day. They did a TV movie with a young Tom Hanks.

The warning here? Mommas don't let your babies grow up to play Dungeons and Dragons. Oh the game in the book is Mazes and Monsters but I doubt anyone missed the point. The poor sap in the book completely loses himself in his character. I wonder what that says about the electronic games of today? I mean if it was dangerous for a few friends to sit around a table with some paper and dice (which I did and still d
Mar 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book when I was about 14 years old, it was one of the very few books that I've read in a day. I think you might have to be a Dungeons and Dragons nerd with paranoid Christian parents to really enjoy this.
Claudia Putnam
Jan 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
Deft, well characterized, though with the exception of Jay Jay, these kids seemed to have too much going on to be D&D types. Anyway, the mental health angle was not developed and seemed to miss the point. Though it was 1981, so maybe that was the best she could do.
Emily Crow
I read this ages and ages ago, when I was in college, so to be honest, I can't recall much about it, except that I wasn't impressed. Some of my friends at the time were really into D&D, and when they saw this book in my hands, exclaimed something along the lines of, "How can you read such tripe? We are so disappointed in you!" Personally, I was not so enthralled with RPGs, seeing them as a monumental waste of time, but to this day, as I will quite cheerfully confess, I am happy to live "in m ...more
Mar 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Read this book over 10 years ago and I remember what a GREAT read it was--hard-to-put-down, suspenseful and great story. Always have enjoyed Jaffe's books...
Apr 29, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: D&D players who need higher blood pressure.
Want to read pure D&D fear mongering from 1980s with out a bit of truth, or need for D&D to be part of it. Well the good news is Mazes and Monsters is here to remind us of how people used to see Dungeons and Dragons.

But really what makes this book especially bad is three things.

It's poorly written in almost every way, entertainly so... though not entertaining enough to recommend it. Dialogue, characters, content, all ... bad. And then it does it in the most heavy handed method. Most peo
Drake Tungsten
I read this book a few years after it came it out. I actually liked the character sketches that Jaffe used. Finding out about the characters' backgrounds, and those of their parents, did a good job of showing how they became the people they are in the present. And where some of their individual problems came from.

With regards to the social events that were going on at the time that this book was written, I have a few thoughts. What many "protect the child" groups miss--whether they're attacking
The Stumps
This book was okay. It did teach me a lesson about playing Mazes and Monsters. I'll stay away from that game for sure.

It also gave me some tips on finding lost friends in New York. Before doing anything else, you have to make sure to take the time to buy a Sherlock Holmes hat when looking for you friend. It helps you find them faster and it doesn't look ridiculous at all. Then go to the zoo, because why not, and also he might be at the zoo. Then check the movies, museums, and restaurants. If yo
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Good story. Weird ending. I think that most folks who commented that they do not like the book are D&D fans. Who knew their was such concerns, but then again I was a kid at the time that D&D became popular.

As always i enjoyed that characters that RJ created and following along with their lives.

Too bad this author has passed away.
Laura A. Perry
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good

Read this when it first came out and thought it was good so read it again for nostalgia. Things are often not the same as they remember-some better and some not so much....
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it
About as good as the movie. Robbie was sick way before he played the game.
Kosh Koshover
Feb 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
hot garbage
Greg Pietsch
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Had so much fun reading this book! Totally remember people freaking out over Dungeons and Dragons back in the early 80s
James Vachowski
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Apparently the 1980s were a hell of a time, back when video games and rock and roll were responsible for warping the mind of an entire generation. As if Ozzy Osbourne and KISS weren’t bad enough, parents also had be on the lookout for dangerous games like Dungeons and Dragons. Although D&D has somehow gotten a lot more popular in recent years, almost to the point where it’s considered mainstream, back in the day a lot of people actually thought that role-playing games might be secretly lurin ...more
Tammy Allen
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of my fave books when I was a teen. Had to read it again.
Lee Anne
Oct 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: re-read
This book came out in 1981, and, in my freshman year of high school, was made into a t.v. movie starring my imaginary boyfriend at the time, Tom Hanks, and Chris "Rudy the Rabbit" Makepeace. I read the book back then, and recently, having read and fallen in love with Jaffe's The Best of Everything, rescued my childhood copy from my parents' basement to read it again.

The story, while loosely based on actual events, has not aged well. Aside from one of the characters being described as being as ha
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
When I was young (well before I got into playing Dungeons & Dragons), I saw a schlock, made-for-TV movie called "Mazes and Monsters". (Shockingly enough, Tom Hanks was in it.) Schlock doesn't even scratch the surface here.

The movie was based on this book and is pretty faithful (from what I remember of the movie). I have to admit that the book was just interesting enough to keep me reading. Only just. The depiction of the game (hardly a stretch to know the author is referring to D&D) in t
Grady Hendrix
Mar 13, 2015 rated it did not like it
The first anti-RPG book to come out in the wake of James Dallas Egbert III's sad suicide in 1984 was from Rona Jaffe, extremely famous author behind the scandalicious bestselling proto-Mad Men and proto-Sex and the City novel, The Best of Everything. Published in 1958, TBoE provided not only a great late-career role for Joan Crawford in the inevitable movie, but it also provided deep insight into what it was like to be a young woman in 1958. Mazes and Monsters, on the other hand, provides no ins ...more
Nov 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: paranoid parents who think imagination is evil
Shelves: unfinished
I got this under the misapprehension that it would be something like Anderson's Gamearth. In fact, it seems to be a rather overly "telling" (versus showing) psychological portrayal of some college kids in 1980 who become obsessed with their D&D. We are told on the first page that something awful and probably fatal happens to one of them as a result, but I didn't read far enough to find out whom or what.
Feb 22, 2010 rated it liked it
I was a little trepidatious of reading yat another kids-go-to-college-coming-of-age story. And it's not brilliant, but it is realy good. Jaffe's a very compelling writer and the characters are realistic with slightly haunting but not fantastic histories. I think she captures the surreality and anxiety of progressing from an immature to a mature point of view and how so often it's not a eureka moment so the issues someone has as a child follows them into adulthood. It's very well done and a reall ...more
May 11, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book much more than I thought that I was. Jaffe's writing is quick, to the point and entertaining. I rushed through it in a night and even after I closed the back cover, that unexpected character twist stayed with me. Enough so that I can half-way review the book after 10 years. This book was teh reason I picked up more Jaffe through the years, but seems like this may be the best so far.
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bizarre, fiction, donated
Too often unintentionally funny. While we have stereotypes of pen-and-paper, tabletop gamers which are not always true, Jaffe may have been trying a little too hard to break them. Or more likely she was working before enough information was out there about D&D.

But seriously... all the players are wildly attractive, successful, sleeping with each other... iiiiii don't think so.

The ending's pretty laughable too.
Nov 04, 2012 rated it did not like it
Terrible! The writing was bad, the plot was thin....okay, I get that it was written during the big "D&D is evil!" scare but it's apparent that Jaffe has never played a RPG in her life....I couldn't get over how her genius character just jumped in a pit to kill his character...oops! What, he can't even think to load his dice? How stupid can someone be? First and last book of hers I hope to ever read.
Apr 14, 2010 rated it did not like it
I cannot remember(in 57yrs of reading) when a work of fiction disappointed me as much as this one. As a lover of RPGs, I had great hopes for a rousing read, but got a tiresome polemic instead. Don't waste precious reading time on this one. Call a friend, mow the lawn, catch up on back issues of National Geographic or dye your hair purple, but find something, anything more worthy than this tired piece of trash.
Mary Gualandri
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An incredible, thought provoking novel based on true events. Jaffe dives into the depths of the human mind and showcases juat how easy it is for the lines between fantasy and reality to become blurred in the midst of a larger than life game. The story is gripping and the writing is fantastic. I highly recommend this novel.
Feb 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
Let me preface this by saying that Jaffe's The Best of Everything is one of my favorite books. This one, however, is ridiculous. Based on early 80s urban-legend-fueled D&D hysteria, it is completely implausible and the characters act like total idiots. It did have moments of Jaffe goodness and it was amusing in a so-bad-it's-good way.
Nov 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Man, I really wish Rona Jaffe was a better writer. I mean, this is an excellent book in that it's terrible, and enjoyable in the same way that watching a bad movie can be fun. But Jaffe is clearly trying to think through some interesting and difficult topics, she's just not quite a good enough writer to pull it off.
Apr 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Perhaps because it's been 34 years since this book was written, I was able to approach it as pure fiction, and ended up enjoying the heck out of it (though the downward spiral of one character and the ending were heartbreaking to watch.) Had I actually read it in the 80s, I would've scoffed at it trying to blame psychological problems on a game.
May 29, 2010 rated it did not like it
Trite, trashy, and poorly written. Shows nothing but the ignorance of the author whose only research on Dungeons & Dragons appears to be what she read in the papers. Oh, and the movie version was equally bad despite Tom Hanks being in it.
Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it
I read this when I was about 10. It was, I recall, the first book I took out of the adult library: I had finished all the books in the kid's section. So, at the time it seemed amazing. And a bit scandalous.
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Rona Jaffe established The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards program in 1995. It is the only national literary awards program of its kind dedicated to supporting women writers exclusively. Since the program began, the Foundation has awarded more than $850,000 to a total of 92 women.

Ms. Jaffe was the author of sixteen books, including Class Reunion, Family Secrets, The Road Taken, and The Room-