James Dashner’s The Maze Runner was the book that kicked off a best selling trilogy series that paved the way for its blockbuster onscreen adaptations.
The series is set in a futuristic dystopian society where the protagonist, Thomas, wakes up with no memory. He is launched into a maze filled with only teenage boys, all of whom woke up under the same mysterious circumstances.
What sets this book apart from other’s is the characteristics of the world in which this is set. Despite the series taking place within the real world as you and I know it (though set in a despondent future, explored in the following books), Dashner limits the book to the maze. This gave him the creative freedom to world build without the limitation of realism, which he does brilliantly. The way he describes his fishbowl of a world allows the readers to become immersed to the extent where you felt you were one of the Gladers -which segways me into my next point.
The use of character created terminology is a great literary resource, and one that I believe has been criminally underused. Dashner is able to really draw the readers in through his use of terminological structures that seperate his fictitious world from that of the real. Part of the reason I love books is because it takes me away from the moan and groan of day to day life without having to leave the house. It’s a holiday from home, at home and every great author or book series needs both a sense of relatability and a hook to pull you out of your own story and into the pages in which you read.
On top of that, the characters employed by the author, both good and bad, have a level of sophistication that drives the book away from standard cliches as you follow the mystery of the plot through the Glade. Without spoiling the novel for those of you who are yet to read it, you learn that there are no agendas amongst the characters, they all have a sense of family and belonging amongst one and other, even though there is a murky divide between good and bad. At the end of the day they are all teenagers, and Dashner reminds us of this as he enlists fear as the overarching antagonist, channeling it through specific characters, driving the plot forward.
This book receives and 8.5/10 due to the author’s ability to differentiate himself and his series from the cliches of other books out there. He drives the mysterious plot forward through an emotive villain, rather than an agenda based antagonist as well as creating a story that draws us out of our own worlds and into his.