Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Monday, July 14, 2014

Plot Summary:
After being pulled out the the Black Box, Thomas has no memory of who he who is, where he is, and where he came from. As the latest prisoner of the Glade, Thomas has not choice but to do what he is told or face the consequences. The Glad is comprised of many young men who have distinct roles and duties. The leaders, or Keepers, of the Glade preside over various sections and assign each "Greenie" (or newbie) specific tasks to keep the Glade running in top shape. When Thomas arrived, certain members of the Glade haven't made his "homecoming" very welcoming; in fact, Galley, Thomas' arch nemesis, swears he has seen him before, which leads to a lot of suspicion. Thomas has no memory of this place at all and the very idea that he has been there before is outrageous. After befriending a young boy named Chuck, Thomas tries to wrap his head around Glade, the Grievers, and, more importantly, the Maze that lies outside the walls. As Thomas learns the way of the, things become more complicated when the Black Box delivers another surprise: a comatose girl with a message telling the Gladers that this will be the last delivery ever. When everyone suspects that Thomas has something to do with this because the Glade had never gotten two "greenies" within a few days, let a lone one being a girl.  More importantly, suspicions continue to rise when  Ben, one of the members of the Glade who was stung by one of "Grievers," attacks Thomas spouting  how dangerous he is. Luckily, Alby and Newt (two of the Keepers) believe in Thomas' innocence and Ben is punished for his behavior. One thing about the Glade is if you are disorderly than you WILL suffer the consequences. After meeting Minho, one of the Runners, Thomas decides that if he is going to be a part of this world, he will be a Runner. At the request of the Keepers, Thomas must try harder to remember who he is because very curious things have been happening that relate to him. However, the more he puts to together, the more he learns that his very presence in the Maze could put everyone in danger. However, as Thomas learns, the Gladers have two choices: stay in the Glade and risk imminent death or charge the Maze and bring an end to their imprisonment.

Critical Evaluation:
I will be honest that I had a bit of a hard time getting into this story. Maybe it is because I burned out with Dystopian stories, but the lingo these boys use drove me crazy! Once readers get past the exceptionally lame slangs/curse words, the story is actually fast-paced and action packed that will keep readers entertained. For example, the scene with Ben and the Gathering had my heart racing a bit because we have no idea what fate awaits him because his screams and reactions to his punishment are chilling. Also, the description of the Grievers and the Beetle Blades sound really frightening because these "foes" are part machine and part animal; readers will realize that somebody, or something, is controlling these things beyond the Glade. Initially, I thought the idea of the Glade was some sort of sick reality show (like the "Hunger Games") that some twisted society thought up of as a means of setting an example or, as Thomas puts it, this place really is a prison for boys who may have done something horrible. Unfortunately, readers don't find out the reason for the Glade until the end of the first book, which was done purposely to make the reader finish the series. This series is aimed at tween male readers and it's new re-telling of the "Lord of the Flies" where young boys must work together to survive no matter the costs. My only hope was that poor Chuck will be alive in the next installment because he is totally the "Piggy" character of this story, but, alas, I was let down. I know I am making a lot of references here, but, sadly, I didn't really see anything original about the characters and story development. Personally, all of the secrecy annoyed me because if the mission is about survival, why won't they help Thomas understand everything from the get go? Although I really liked the idea of a giant maze that shifts and the Glade, it takes readers way to long to figure out the the reason why they are trapped. I am not sure if I will continue the series, but I hope the next installments are more concise and more to the point. 

Information about the Author:
According to his website:
James was born and raised in Georgia but now lives in the Rocky Mountains with his family. He has four kids, which some might think is too many but he thinks is just right. Once upon a time, James studied accounting and worked in the field of finance, but has been writing full time for several years. (He doesn’t miss numbers. At all.)
In his free time, James loves to read, watch movies and (good) TV shows, snow ski, and read. (Reading was mentioned twice on purpose.) Most of all, he’s thankful that he gets to make a living writing stories and considers himself pretty much the luckiest guy on the planet.

Genre:
Teen Dystopian Thriller, Teen Sci Fi, Teen Lit for Guys, Tween Dystopian Thrillers

Reading Level/Interest:
Grades 8 & up

Books Similar to The Maze Runner:
Awards & Recognition:
From Amazon.com:

A New York Times Bestseller
A USA Today Bestseller
A Book Sense Bestseller
An Indie Next List Selection
A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year
An ALA-YASLA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book
An ALA-YALSA Quick Pick

"[A] mysterious survival saga that passionate fans describe as a fusion of Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, and Lost."—EW.com

“Wonderful action-writing—fast-paced…but smart and well observed.”—Newsday

“[A] nail-biting must-read.”—Seventeen.com

“Breathless, cinematic action.”—Publishers Weekly

“Heart pounding to the very last moment.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Exclamation-worthy.”—Romantic Times

* “James Dashner’s illuminating prequel [The Kill Order] will thrill fans of this Maze Runner [series] and prove just as exciting for readers new to the series.”—Shelf Awareness, Starred

“Take a deep breath before you start any James Dashner book.”—Deseret News

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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