In The Maze Runner by James Dashner introduces us to a world where death is often just around the next corner. A group of boys find themselves in a strange place they call the glade, trying to survive, and if possible escape back to their home. Yet, while they know they have a home, they have no memory of anything prior to the maze. With above average intelligence they have found a way to build a society of sorts in order to survive.
When Thomas finds himself in a box with no memories, he is terrified when the box begins to move, and stopping abruptly opens to his vision of a strange group of teens he does not know. They pull him out of his trap only to treat him unkindly, and in fact seems somewhat threatened by him. His fear only further increases as he slowly learns more of this place where he finds himself. As the danger of his situation becomes somewhat clearer, he tries to find any memory, even a small speck to help him understand. There is nothing there.
There are dangerous creatures outside the walls of their protection called grievers. Within the walls they are safe, except from each other, but the world outside the walls is treacherous. The society has a task to do to keep the peace, and one of the most dangerous tasks is that of the runners. They must find the secret of the maze hidden outside their walls in order to return home. Every day the maze changes and every day the changes are mapped for some form of answer.
Strange things appear to be happening, even more so since Thomas was discovered in the box. Although that is how everyone arrived, his presence seems to cause a shift. That distrust only becomes clearer when a new inhabitant is introduced through the box. This time it is a girl. Initially uttering strange phrases, shock emanates from the team when she immediately recognizes Thomas and calls him by name. Yet as she is pulled from the box she too no longer remembers. The tension only thickens as they realize she is the last. No more members will be coming through.
When Thomas breaks the rules by rescuing two of the runners from outside the walls he causes a rift, and yet creates believers as well. Is he their doom or their resurrection? The time of the maze is closing. Can they save themselves or will they perish, never knowing the answers.
Dashner creates a world of danger and suspense. His creatures are a cross between technology and the ugly things that go bump in the night. He has done an amazing job of creating characters that are likable, and those who are the bullies and jerks, just as we see in the real world. The fear is pervasive, creating uneasy hysteria and nervous inhabitants. The intelligence of those selected helps them to form a society, one necessary to sustain them and to help them come up with answers. The danger feels real and the fear follows you as you begin to understand the characters. The confusion keeps you guessing, cheering and hoping.
This is a great work full of danger, fear, and riddled with suspense. While a great YA novel, adults will also be interested in the depth of the story. This would be a great addition to your book shelf, as well as that of your teen.
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