The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

Thomas knows nothing of where he came from, nor anything of his past, except his own name. When he wakes up, he finds himself in a large group of boys also with forgotten memories, surrounded by a maze that literally comes to life at night.

Living an existence counting on routine, Thomas must help the boys survive and come up with a solution to help them escape. But as memories begin to come back, is returning to the world they thought they left behind worth the huge amount of sacrifice it will take?

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Did I like this story? Hmmm…maybe. I liked the premise of the plot, but as a trilogy, no. I also had a couple of complaints that a lot of other people on Goodreads have.

It was fairly suspenceful, and the pacing was okay, but there were way too many little things that bugged me. By the time Thomas arrives, some of the boys have already explored and know every inch of the maze. This draws away from the mysteriousness from what could have been closer to a horror book. I won’t give more away, but what the maze holds was figured out much too quickly.

Apart from the plot, which was okay, everyone seems to agree that the characters weren’t interesting at all. Thomas has this amazing ability to ‘just know’ stuff, because of some connection he has to the maze, but it doesn’t play out well at all. The side characters were boring; it reminded me of several other movies in which there are a group of kids who all are cliched in some way. The leader. The kid who should be leader. The genius. The girl. The fat kid. The bully. All are accounted for, in a way that I don’t appreciate. The girl was especially irritating, because of her non-purposeness. And just by throwing her into the mix, you can imagine all the drama.

The way they talk, with plenty of made-up words, just comes across as stupid, and feels choppy. It takes a while to get used to, but it didn’t serve in any way to set any kind of stage as to where, or who, they are. Usually, changing up dialogue helps give you the idea who is talking, but in this case I couldn’t tell the difference between one person and another because they all talk the same way.

Even though I would have preferred something a little less pre-explored for the maze, I appreciated the suspence. I was surprised by quite a few readers who both thought it was very suspenceful, and some found it boring. I didn’t think it was boring, and I was kept fairly engrossed evenly throughout the book. I also thought that, even though we don’t have answers as to the why of the whole thing, I just felt like it was irrelevent to what the author originally intended the story to be.

In other words, I am not clamoring for the next book, which other reviews have told me stinks. The plot potential was fantastic, but frankly I’m tired of all the popular dystopian books, and adults who throw kids into freaky alternate realities. If you like the Hunger Games, or Divergent, then this might be the book for you.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 (half point knocked off for character unoriginality, another half for boring dialogue (which would have improved the story 100%), and one last half point for not figuring out a way to wrap up the series into one slightly longer book, which is only my personal opinion)

Violence: 5/10 ( the monsters in the maze are scary enough, and there’s enough gore to make you wince, and also a mental disorder which occurs that is a little disturbing)

Language: 3/10 (mostly made up swear words)

Inappropriateness/Romance: 2/10 (surprisingly)

Audience: Ages 14 and up, or younger if they have already read the Hunger Games

The Giver, by Lois Lowry

Jonas lives in a perfect world. Literally. The way everything works has been done that way for as long as anyone can remember, back and back and back. Nothing is out of place; everyone knows where they belong, and where everyone else belongs. Words like Love, Bravery, and Starving are a fantasy.

Life is just as it always has been for Jonas. Until he is given the job of Receiver. Receiving memories from the Giver from before the community was formed, Jonas slowly learns about life as it used to be. The pain, sadness, and joy all mixed up from before anyone can remember eventually leads to the awful truth about the community he lives in.

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From what I have heard from everyone else who has read it, they either loved, or were seriously disturbed. I totally understand that; I just finished it the second time around. I was severely disturbed the first time around, but I still loved it.

I would definitely describe it as a disturbing book. Yet, even in the hateful community they ‘live’ in, their world actually is an echo of where we may be headed. While most dystopian books don’t seem at all like a realistic future (think Hunger Games and Divergent), this one is startlingly close to where America may be headed. Perhaps more magnified in the book, but still a good glimpse at where we DON’T want to be.

Other’s may disagree with me, but for me this was a bit of a wake up to reality. I seriously encourage parents to read this before you hand it to your elementary-aged children; it may be a bit over their heads, or too disturbing for the more mature younger kids.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Violence: 3/10 (mostly some of the memories he receives)

Language: 0/10

Innappropriateness/Romance: 1/10

Audience: Ages 12 and up

If anyone would like to comment on how the movie compares with the book, please do so!