374 pgs (The Maze Runner series #1)
I know I’ve said this before, but one of the reasons I’m a big fan of good science fiction stories is I enjoy the sense of disorientation I usually experience as they begin. Oftentimes it takes a while to figure out, or get a sense for several key aspects of the story: When and where is it taking place? Is it here on earth? Or another world? Is it happening in the present time on some faraway planet? Or is it happening here on earth, but at some point in the distant future? Many of the really good stories in the genre prolong that sense of disorientation almost indefinitely. So after watching the movie adaptation of the first book in the series, and having questions throughout about what was going on and why, I decided the series might be worth reading.
I wasn’t disappointed. The premise is pretty solid. A group of teenage boys live in a place called the Glade, surrounded by an enormous maze of concrete walls a mile high. The boys arrived in the Glade one at a time, with no memory of their life to that point and no idea why they’re there and how to escape through the maze. About once a week an elevator box surfaces in the Glade containing necessities like food and tools, and about once a month, a new boy arrives in the box as well.
The story begins with Thomas’s arrival in the Glade. Like the others before him, Thomas doesn’t know who he is, or how he got to the Glade, he just woke up in the elevator box as it was surfacing. He quickly learns that the Glade is run by Alby and Newt, two boys who arrived a couple years ago. He learns that ever since boys started finding themselves in the Glade, they’ve been trying to discover why they’re there and how they can escape. They’ve assigned certain boys to be “runners,” assigned to enter the maze every morning and try to find a way through. The problem is that strange and deadly creatures known as Grievers patrol the interior of the maze, and every night, the entrance to the maze closes, and the interior walls of the maze move into different positions.
But Thomas’s arrival seems to indicate that things are about to change in the Glade. One day after his arrival the box appears again, this time there’s a teenage girl in the box along with a message that she’s the last one. Thomas recognizes the girl, but can’t remember her name. She’s in a coma, but begins communicating with him telepathically in his head. A short time later, the sun disappears, the deliveries of supplies stop coming, and the entrance to the maze stays open overnight.
It’s clear to Thomas that he and the girl Teresa are different from the rest of the boys and they’re somehow meant to lead the rest of the group safely through the maze to whatever lies beyond.
I enjoyed the book, more so than the movie. It’s written for young adults, but it’s not dumbed down, which sometimes authors in the genre tend to do. It poses many more questions than it answers, in fact I’m not sure any questions were ever answered. But that’s what the first book in a series like this is meant to do, hook you into wondering what’s going on, and getting you willing to wait for the next book to see what happens next.
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