Monday, September 8, 2014

The Maze Runner Book Review

The Maze Runner Book CoverWhen Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is empty.

But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclose by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as anyone can remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, for just as long, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the Maze after dark.

The Gladers were expecting Thomas’s arrival. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might find their way home. . . wherever that may be. But it’s looking more and more as if the Maze is unsolvable.

And something about the girl’s arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers—if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.
(Back cover blurb.)


I have a thing for survival stories. I love it when a small group of characters are stuck in one rather small location just trying to survive. And I’m actually enjoying this dystopian craze. (Shameful, I know.) So a dystopian about a small group of people trying to survive in some mysterious maze they can’t escape? Uh. . .yes, please! The premise completely and totally appealed to everything I love. I was expecting to be totally blown away by this story.

Well. . .blown away isn’t the term I’d use exactly.

I wanted to give this book 4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads, I really, really did. But, unfortunately, too many disappointing factors brought it down to 3 stars. Maybe 3.5? Because I liked this book, I honestly did. I read the entire last half of the book in a single day. Obviously something got my interest but. . .eh.

I think the best way I can describe this book is amateurish. It had so much potential and was very gripping, but everything just didn’t feel professional. It felt more like an early draft that still needed a good bit of polishing and tweaking.

Firstly, the writing needed a lot of work. For the entirety of the story the author told me everything, hardly ever showing. And that’s the number one rule of writing: Show, don’t tell. When you have sentences like He was frustrated or That made her sad it really detaches the reader from the character and story. Those types of sentences are telling the reader how the character feels, not showing. Instead of just saying the character is frustrated, we readers want to see said character snap at his best friend or slam a door, just little things like that to show his frustration. Unfortunately, it was all telling in The Maze Runner. On almost every page there was a “Thomas felt that and this” sentence. It just got rather annoying after a while.

And that wasn’t the only type of telling. I felt like the author didn’t think his readers were smart enough to figure things out on their own, so he had to constantly remind us. Over and over again we were told the obvious. Often the same bit of information multiple times, just to make sure we don’t forget that THIS THING is important. The repetitiveness went a bit too far, in my humble opinion. Then again, sometimes I do forget things and need reminding, so. *shrugs* It’s a hard thing to balance in writing, I know.

The characters themselves weren’t exactly loveable creatures. Some of them were downright nasty and, really, pretty annoying. I can put up with that if they feel real but. . .well, I just really couldn’t relate with any of the characters. I never could get a full grip on our main character, Thomas’s, personality. He felt really contradictory. I’m still not entirely sure what type of person he is. He has good intentions and supposed to be some kind of genius (I think. . .?) but he also was rather clueless. To me, he felt more like the author’s tool to relay exactly what information he wanted his readers to know. Thomas would often conveniently remember something at just the right time, or he wouldn’t know a very obvious piece of information just so the reader would be “surprised” when said information actually comes up. Most of the surprises and plot twists in the book were pretty obvious, they just didn’t supposed to be because Thomas wasn’t smart enough to realize them before they appeared. I don’t know. He had his moments where I liked him a lot. He sacrificed himself multiple times for people he really didn’t even know and genuinely wanted to help everyone out, but there just wasn’t anything deep about him.

The other characters were even more shallow. Thomas always kept the spotlight, kind of overshadowing the others which got annoying. He is our main character, yes, but every character in any book needs to feel real. We need to know they have their own lives and dreams and struggles and aren’t just there for supporting (or anti-supporting) roles to the main character. I didn’t feel like I ever got to know anyone else because Thomas was always in the spotlight. But, really, I wasn’t too curious about any of them because they all felt dull. Newt and Chuck were about the only two I kind of liked, but even they annoyed me quite often. When something tragic happened to someone (and tragic things happened a lot, let me tell you) I didn’t really. . .care. And I feel terrible about that! I know I should have been sad but I. . .wasn’t. I just wasn’t that attached to anyone.

What really infuriated me with the characters was how they always withheld information from Thomas. He’s new. He has no memory, no idea where he is, no clue what’s going on, and scared to death. Anyone would be! Naturally he wants any information he can get his hands on. But noooo. Out of about 50 or 60 boys living in this place, not a one of them is willing to just TELL HIM what they know. Sure, they’re all clueless about who they are or why the Maze is there, but they still know some stuff just from living there. But nope. They’re all too busy being jerks to help the poor newbie out. Most of the mysteries in the book were mysteries merely because no one was willing to tell Thomas anything. I’ll be honest, it drove me up the wall. I just wanted someone to be nice to this poor, scared kid. Really.

Then there was the slang. Goodness, the slang. Dialogue is my favorite part of books, but with this one sometimes I got to the point where I dreaded any dialogue because of the slang. So there’s roughly 60 teenage boys all living in the Glade, this wide, grassy square surrounded by the walls of the Maze. They’ve been here for a while, they’re all teens, and boys. Naturally there’s going to be some crudeness going on. I guess it wouldn’t be realistic without it. So these boys have taken on their own way of speaking, and every single one of them do it, all the time. Always. They have a few made-up curse words that they basically use every other word. Now, I’m glad the cursing was totally made up words. If they were actually cursing I wouldn’t have read this book. The author really did seem to try to make the situation realistic without riddling his book with cursing. And I appreciate that. A lot! There’s a lot of authors who haven’t been as courteous. But still, the slang was just over the top. The way the boys talked really got on my nerves. It just seems like they would sometimes have normal, decent conversations. I don’t know.

There was also a lot of things that felt rather unbelievable. All these boys supposed to be really smart, but their tactics are far from genius. Then Thomas, who comes in much, much later than the rest, just figures things out even without knowing much at all about the Maze. Too many gaps and plot holes made everything feel incomplete. There were a lot of moments that just felt like copouts for the author, not believable circumstances. That could have been my perception of things though.

My goodness! I’m making it sound like this book is awful and I hate it. That’s so very far from the truth! I wanted to give it 4 stars, remember? And I read half of it in a day. Because, seriously, this was a really cool book!

Despite the detached characters and amateur writing, the actual story was quite a fascinating read. I couldn’t stop turning pages, aching to know what would happen next, dying to find answers to all the riddles. Dashner wove together a very intriguing plot. His whole premise was completely unique and interesting. And, honest to goodness, I saw a lot of potential in his writing. There were many sentences that very much impressed me, or scenes where he really captured the intensity of the situation. I think he has some serious potential, this book just needed a bit of tweaking.

The setting captivated me. There’s something thrilling about mazes in and of themselves. But turn that into a humongous, unsolvable maze with killer monsters and mysteries around every corner. Well, how fun is that? Then you have the ever growing question of why these boys are sent to this place, memories wiped and all, and by whom. Plus there’s these monster-robot hybrid things called Grievers that haunt the maze during the night. I was genuinely terrified by these things. I thought the author did very well making them downright scary. And they add another layer of questions. Why are they there? What is this place even for? Really, how can this book not be interesting?

Now, I’m going to halt myself right there and say one more negative thing (last one, I promise). While this book was fascinating, it had so much potential that the author didn’t jump on. It was pretty action-packed and full of mystery and yet. . .there was quite a few dull moments in between. I think he really could have taken this idea and turned it into something outstanding. But, as is, it wasn’t totally mind blowing.

The ending now. . . The ending was something! I honestly am still trying to figure out if I liked it or not. It kind of melted my brain, but in a good way. Whoo! It threw me for a loop. But that’s all I’m going to say. You’ll have to read it yourself to see what I mean. *wicked grin*

This book had some seriously intense stuff in it. I think I’d suggest it for ages 16 and up, at least. Like I said, the Grievers themselves were pretty frightening, and much violence ensues. But not just from them. In a packed setting full of teenage boys there’s going to be some tension. Let’s just say these boys don’t always play nice, and it gets pretty disturbing what they’ll do to each other to keep order in their little “home”.

Like I mentioned earlier, they have their own “curse” words, so there’s technically no real cursing but they use these made up words so much it almost feels like it. But I will say there is a good bit of crudeness. There were a few words tossed around that aren’t labeled as “curse” words but aren’t things I’d ever say, so just be aware of that. And there was a time or two where someone almost cursed for real but didn’t actually say the full word. Again, I felt Dashner was trying to keep it realistic without really sprinkling his pages with anything foul. And I’m actually quite proud of him for that.

There’s only one girl and she’s not in the story much, so there’s no kissing or anything like that. I think she and Thomas may have held hands a time or two. . .? But there’s really no romance in the story.

I feel terrible about all the negativity in this review (and for getting so lengthy, whoops). All in all, I really did enjoy this book. It had a very epic setting, unique premise, and so much mystery that each page leaves you wishing to know more. It just makes me sad because it had so, so, SO much potential that wasn’t met. But, overall, it was pretty awesome. If you like this genre and are looking for some action and intrigue, then I absolutely think you should be getting yourself a copy of this book. I don’t regret reading it a bit and, in fact, verrrrrry much NEED the sequel now. I definitely want to continue the story. The ending left me wanting more.

So, overall verdict. . . This book wasn’t great, but it was good. Quite good! And I’m very much looking forward to the movie! I can see now why they chose to turn it into one. It’s got just the right amount of action and mystery to make an epic one.

(And did I mention the girl starring in it happens to be played by the same actor I chose for my character Tiff? That was a fun surprise to discover! I knew she was awesome.)


  1. Nice review! My mom and sisters have been reading this book lately and eagerly looking forward to the movie. I was planning on reading it, too, so I'm kind of disappointed to hear that it apparently isn't quite as good as my sisters make it out to be. :/ But hey, I'm sure I'll still enjoy it! One of my sisters (maybe two) has said that it's better than The Hunger Games -- would you agree with that?

    1. Thank you! And thank you for sifting through the monstrous thing! o.o

      That's cool they're reading it. Yeah, I bet you'll still like it. It really was a really neat book. I think I'm just picky, so don't judge it on my silly opinions. The story was quite epic and I can't wait for the movie myself.

      Better than...than...The Hunger Games... *blinks*

      *composes self*

      Let's just say The Hunger Games is one of my top favorite books, period. And this I don't think I've ever been so emotionally engaged in a book more than THG. The writing sucked me in so deeply my heart was pounding during the intense scenes, and usually I don't get that emotional while reading. The writing of THG is just mind blowing, I don't know if I've ever read anything so well written. While with The Maze Runner...well, you saw. The writing, to me, felt amateurish. And the characters way too flat, while The Hunger Games characters were all so painfully real. So, ahem, no. I don't agree. But hey, if she likes The Maze Runner that much that's great! It was a cool book.

    2. No prob at all! It was a good review. :)

      Good good! Don't know when I'll get around to reading it (currently re-reading The Hobbit), but I will!

      I gotcha. Maybe my sister liked the concept of the maze and stuff better than the Games or something? I dunno. I'll ask her why she thought it was better.

    3. Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. ^_^

      The Hobbit! Yay! I'll probably reread it before the movie comes out myself. Got to have it all fresh on my mind so I can properly point out everything they did wrong after all. ;)

      Maybe so. I could understand that. The whole setting of The Maze Runner was super unique. It's what made me want to read it in the first place. I found it all fascinating! But, then again, I also love the idea of the Games. They're both really neat settings! Yeah, I'm curious now. And hey, if you ever do read it I'd love to know what you thought of it!

  2. Thanks for the review, I've been wanting to read this book for a while now, but I wasn't sure if it was worth buying it or not. I'd read a few reviews and everyone seems pretty excited about it, but I wanted a little more info before I purchased the book. I think I have a general idea of what the writing is like now, so I won't be really disappointed when I get it at the library. (-: it sound super exciting though!

    1. I'm so glad my review was helpful to you! Yeah, if I had known what the writing was like before I read it I might not have been quite as disappointed, but overall it's definitely an exciting read. I hope you enjoy it! ^_^

  3. Thanks for the honesty in your book reviews, Christine. It's too bad that this book didn't quite live up to its potential. After seeing the movie preview, I am seriously hooked and can't wait until the movie comes out! Which means that I'm also planning on reading the book, seeing as books tend to be better than their cinematic counterparts. But... now I'm kind of hoping the movie is better than the book. :/ I'm still going to read it, don't get me wrong. I think the premise sounds very gripping.

    1. You're mighty welcome. I always have a hard time writing reviews to books I had a lot of problems with, but the point of reviews is to be honest about how we felt about the novel, whether in a good or bad way, so I try.

      I was the exact same way. In fact, it was seeing the trailer for the movie that prompted me to buy the book. XD I want to see the movie soooo bad which means I had to read the book first, kind of a rule with me. The books are usually SO much better but I almost expect more from the movie with this one to be honest... And, like you, I'm kind of hoping it is better. *cough* Still though, the book was a fun read and I absolutely think you should pick it up. The premise is definitely gripping!

  4. I know... I end up feeling a little bad for the author. Maybe it's because I'm an author too (as yet unpublished, but that's besides the point).

    Yep, the trailer made me want to read the book too. XD I will still read the book, of course. But yeah, I'm hoping the movie will be better. :)

  5. I'm reading the book at the moment and I can't wait to see the movie based on the trailers. But one of the things that is really motivating me is that Teresa, a character in the novel, is played in the movie by the actress I chose who looked like a main character in one of my works in progress.
    This was a great review. It got me thinking on all the little things in the novel just passed through.

    Carly @ Books and Etc.

    1. That is SO funny! Because you know what? I cast one of my characters as that actor as well! That's what motivated me to read the book in the first place. Well, first I saw the movie trailer and thought it looked AMAZING, but then while watching the trailer I saw that girl and was like, "WAIT. THAT'S MY CHARACTER." So then I knew I had to see it. But I had to read the book first. ;) It's just so funny we both cast that girl as our characters. XD

      I'm so glad you liked my review. Thank you for reading it. ^_^

  6. Wooow, that is quite some review! Awesome job Lauri! :D (And yes I read it all; of course I read it all, it was fascinating... :D) I did flinch at a couple points because I was thinking, "Eheh... I'm afraid *I* do those not-so-good things in my writing..." *wince* Meep. Heehee. XD

    I totally know that feeling where it was enjoyable, BUT there was so much wrong with it too... :-/ Especially when it had so MUCH POTENTIAL! And yet the author didn't do it the RIGHT way (i.e., the way you or I would have done it. XD)

    All I will say is, if there's a book I'm not sure if I want to read or not, I want you to read it first and give it a review this in depth. :D *highfives* I applaud you!

    1. *blushes* Goodness, thank you!
      Excuse me? Uh, your writing is BRILLIANT. Don't even talk that way!

      Yeah, it's so sad. Because I think this book could have been just mind-blowingly epic. But, instead, it was just pretty good. It makes me sad. (The way you and I would have done it, yes. XDDD)

      Oh my! Well, thank you very much. I'm so glad this review has been helpful, 'cause I was pretty worried about its length. You always make me feel so good!!! <3

  7. Great review, Lauri! This book is on my To-Read list and I've been a bit suspicious of it, I admit. I believe you and I share the same kind of opinions, so I love your honesty in this review. You love it, but then you seem to despise it. I totally understand! It is so terribly frustrating and annoying when a book has such great potential and yet is ruined by trivial writing and flat characters.

    I'll probably still read this. Eventually. If I can find it. . . cheap. Heheh. . . ;D Again, I thank you for the review! So helpful, it is. :]

    Have a greet weekend!

    1. Thank you so much! I agree to that! It's so great to find someone with the same opinions. I always love it when you do book reviews because if you like it then it's probably something I want to read as well. So fun!

      Love/hate indeed. I'm glad you understand though. It is quite sad. This book could have been sooo much more!

      You should! It was a cool story. I think you might enjoy it despite its flaws. And I understand that! The only reason I own it is because I found it for $3 in a secondhand bookstore. It's in pretty bad condition but it was $3, I'm not going to complain!

      So very glad my reviews was helpful to you! ^_^


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