The Maze Runner, By James Dashner – A Fantastic, Gripping Read

Shadowed perhaps by its major movie counterpart, The Maze Runner is a fantastic, gripping read for any fans of the sci-fi genre.

The plot follows the experiences of Thomas, a teenage boy who finds himself thrown into the middle of an elaborate labyrinth, populated by many other boys around the same age. Having forgotten the majority of his memories, including his own age and family, Thomas is left to come to terms with his new environment of The Glade, a somewhat idyllic area of grassland and forest which the maze’s existing residence have come to call home. As the days pass by, Thomas feels an increasing sense of duty in joining the ranks of the Runners, a select group of the fittest and most able Gladers whose purpose is to – you’ve guessed it – run through the Maze, mapping out the continually changing passages as they go.

James Dashner
James Dashner (Author)

We soon learn that the ever-elusive solution to the maze is the least of the boys’ worries. At night, the maze is shut off by large stone doors, in order to keep the maze’s own dangerous and unnatural residents, the Grievers, at bay. Soon after Thomas’s arrival, however, the issues begin to multiply as the long-lasting standards of the Maze and the Gladers’ very way of life are thrown into increasing turmoil.

Each chapter is a thrilling adventure as we follow the development of the Gladers’ experience while surviving and fending off the Grievers. The reader is made to feel like they know just as little as the protagonist, which creates an incredibly immersive narrative and allows us to truly connect with Thomas as he is forced to accept endless new somber realities of his new life in the Glade.

The Maze Runner falls into the same dystopian category as The Hunger Games, and as such is a must for any fans of the series by Suzanne Collins. While this book would be best received by teenagers and young adults, its appeal would work almost as well for any older readers of the sci-fi and thriller genres. I personally found it completely unputdownable, in part due to its thrilling narrative and incredible description, as well as its easy-to-digest chapter size. I highly recommend anybody looking for a worthwhile read to pick up this book and live through this unique narrative experience yourself.

NB: Whilst having watched the movie adaptation before reading may somewhat limit the full experience of learning all about the Maze for the first time (as was my personal experience), the novel is packed with rich, beautiful description and character development which the film couldn’t fit into its tight run time. The movie itself is a must-see regardless of whether you read the book first, as it perfectly captures the towering and intimidating environments of the Maze and frames the characters’ personalities better than many other book to film adaptations.

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Written by Robert Heaney