Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book Review: "The Mazerunner" by James Dashner

By Nichole Giles

The blurb:
When 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 blank. 

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 enclosed 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.

My thoughts:

I’ve heard this book being compared to a lot of things. One of James’s faithful fans even coined the phrase, “modern day Lord of the Flies.” And truth be told, I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on a copy for a long time. 

The first time I heard the concept of the Mazerunner was three or four years ago (I think) at a writers conference.  James mentioned an idea of these kids who are stuck in a maze, and everyone in the room could see the light in his eyes as he talked about it.  A palpable excitement shimmered through the air—almost a premonition of how great this idea would become.  At the time, we were all just happy to be there, learning from James’s wisdom about how to be better writers and—dare I mention it?—discussing sexual tension between Han Solo and Princess Leia.  (I know, writers are total geeks.)

But the concept remained, and in the coming years, every time I saw him, I asked about James’s maze book.  Then it happened.  I ran into him again (at another writer’s conference—because, that’s where we all convene, you know) and asked the same tired question. But this time, an enormous smile spread across his face and he looked about to burst with elation. Turns out, he didn’t just have good news. He had RANDOM HOUSE size news.  (Which, in a writer’s world, is HUGE.)

I have to be honest. I wanted to jump up and down and cheer for him—right there in the middle of the poetry dinner where we were supposed to be listening to the MC announce contest winners. But even then, even knowing his huge-New York-publishing-house news, I didn’t know how great his book would be. 

Back to the comparison with Lord of the Flies.  I have to be honest. I haven’t read the older book since junior high or high school, and though I know I read it more than once, a person can only retain so much leftover-from-high school information in her brain.  That said, I don’t remember Lord of the Flies ever being fast-paced like The Mazerunner. I liked the older book, but I know that I never read it in one or two days the way I—or better yet, my fifteen-year-old son—did.  There’s something incredible about reading a book that refuses to be put down. That was The Mazerunner for me.

Also, I’ve always loved James’s propensity for puzzles and riddles, and this book didn’t disappoint. I love the variety of characters, their different back grounds and personalities, and the unique slang the characters use. And as always, the antagonists in this book are uber creative, and the ultimate in scary.

I wonder if I could figure out how to make a Griever costume in time for Halloween?

I’d love to compare The Mazerunner to The Hunger Games, but sadly, that one’s still on my “to read” list. (Stupid Scholastic book orders that take two months and change to arrive…) Sorry.

My nitpicks:

I have to wait a whole entire year to read the next one? Noooooooooo.  (James? Really? Can’t you write a little faster? Forget 13th Reality….ok, wait, never mind. Just write fast!)

Okay people, I’m rambling. This book is a must read, and my saying that has nothing to do with my friendship with James. (If you're a regular reader, you should already know I don't give glowing reviews unless the book truly deserves it.)

Click here to buy your copy online.

Click here to find out where James will be signing book near you.

Click here to check out the awesome Mazerunner website, where there’s a really fun, totally addicting game you can play absolutely free.

**The author of this review did NOT receive compensation of any kind as incentive for writing this review. In fact, she drove for over an hour to a certain bookstore, where she then waited in line for another 45 minutes to purchase her own copy, only to have her fifteen-year-old son wrestle it from her grasp and run away to read it first, causing her to wait several days before she could actually open the cover.


L.T. Elliot said...

The disclaimer is again, awesome, Nichole.

I'm currently reading this right now. Good stuff!

Carolyn V. said...

My copy is sitting in my stack of books waiting for me to read it. i can't wait, I hope it will be good and good for my son to read. Thanks for the review!

Kellie said...

I started it yesterday as soon as I was done with Frankenstein (book club book). I am loving it so far!