The Maze Runner (Book 1) by James Dashner

Every month one boy is brought up to the Glade in the elevator with no memory of anything but their first name. Thomas’s arrival is much the same, as unremarkable as any other arrival. He is quickly introduced to life in the Glades. The area they live in is surrounded by stone doors that close at night, separating them from the surrounding maze and the Grievers, dangerous creatures that prowl the maze. During the day, they explore the maze in hopes of finding a way to escape. But the day after Thomas comes, a girl arrives with a message: everything is going to change. And there’s something about the girl that’s familiar to Thomas. Thomas might know more about the maze and how to escape, if only he could remember it.

The first few pages of this book are a little slow. I think this is mostly because it’s all inside the character’s head with very little actually happening. (Basically Thomas is in the lift, wakes up, has no memory, and the lift rises.) But as soon as it reaches the surface and he’s brought into the Glades, the book really picks up. Dashner has thought of just about everything–how the boys survive, a vocabulary unique to their experiences (though I wonder if some of the new kids pick up that vocabulary a little too quickly for it to be natural), a hierarchy of sorts, different personalities, etc. It is such an intricate world that it is easy to get lost in it.

He has built solid characters, I believe their reactions and care about their survival. There are some characters it would have been nice to know more about (though I suppose that is difficult since they don’t really know anything about themselves), but it makes sense that if a boy’s memory goes back only a month, there is less to reveal about him than someone whose memory goes back a year or two, etc.

Not every detail involved is a surprise (if anyone was paying attention, they should be able to figure out where the escape route is fairly early on), but there are more than enough surprises to keep you interested. And of course, there is the biggest question of all: who put them in the maze and why?

This is definitely one of the better series that I have read in a while (a few of the ones that I’ve picked up lately have been particularly solid). Book two is already out and reading it is a high priority. This is a series that I would love to see made into a movie.

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