Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

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Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Series: The Maze Runner Trilogy (Book 1)
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (October 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385737947
ISBN-13: 978-0385737944
Amazon Review: 4.3/5 Stars

Book blurb as seen on

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

I borrowed this book from my son.

My son has been bugging me to read this book for quite awhile, and with the movie coming out soon, I figured I better get on it.

It was a fairly quick read for me, spurred on by the fact that The Maze Runner is one of those books that feeds you just enough to awaken your taste, but leaves you starving with need to find the answers. Dashner did a great job of making us feel Thomas’ anger and frustration at not knowing what is going on, because that’s how I felt through the whole book! It actually got a touch old, receiving tiny morsels of information, but having to wait and wait for the next. I guess it served its purpose. I kept reading after all, but I think it actually took me out of the story after awhile because I was so annoyed with being constantly confused.

The characters were fairly well developed, though I felt Dashner would have done better to let us see the character’s actions and dialogue, and let the reader conclude personalities and motivations, rather than have Thomas spell it out through his POV what a character was like. It seems to be a common problem I’m experiencing with YA writers. I think we all need to work on letting YA audiences come to their own conclusions. They’re smart. Give them the clues and they’ll get there.

I also found myself struggling with believe-ability in the characters toward the end. Some of the dialogue felt unnatural and cheesy. But like I said, at some point I was frustrated with unanswered questions and it took me out of the story. Maybe that contributed to finding the ending (last third?) a bit unrealistic. (I don’t mean the events were unrealistic. It’s fiction after all. I mean I realized I was reading a story. I like to forget that if I can.)

Teresea was one character who Dashner could have devoted more time to. I know, she was in a coma for most of the book, limiting opportunities to develop character, but still. I often feel male writers have difficulty writing believable female characters, and Dashner was no exception. Though I suppose men could say the same about women writing men. It’s a circle I guess. Hopefully, Teresea’s character will get better in the sequel.

And what’s with the sexist take on only boys being tested to see if they are good leaders? Once again, I hope this is addressed in later books, because I was kind of offended.

One thing I thought Dashner did well was developing a series of swear words for the boys to use. It was totally realistic that boys in that situation are going to swear like sailors, but being a YA book, it was a great idea to develop nonsense words that were obvious in their definition, but not offensive to read repeatedly.

Overall, this book was a great suspenseful read. I was scared out of my wits for the first third of the novel, and those grievers may give me nightmares. My fear and my desire to know answers kept me turning pages. A few plot points I saw coming, but there were enough twists and surprises to make it worthwhile to read. I will definitely be reading the sequel.

My review: 3.5/5 stars

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

  1. “The Maze Runner is one of those books that feeds you just enough to awaken your taste, but leaves you starving with need to find the answers.” OMG YES. I read that book as quickly as I could because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next, and Dashner saved the big reveals for the very end.

    Nice review! I think we have similar opinions about TMR – overall, it’s a pretty good book, but there are some areas that could use improvement. 🙂


  2. Pingback: Book of the Month – The Maze Runner – James Dashner | Jen's Pen Den

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