The Maze Runner
Chicken House Ltd
2011 (originally 2010), 371p
Copy courtesy of Scholastic AUS
Thomas wakes in a box. He can remember his name and he can remember details about how the world works. But he can’t remember a single thing about his life – not his age, or his last name or even what he looks like. When the doors of the box open, Thomas finds himself in what is called The Glade.
The Glade is an encampment, surrounded on all sides by walls that are hundreds of feet high. There are doorways in the walls that lead to the Maze and every day people from the Glade known as Runners attempt to map the Maze, trying desperately to find a way out. They must return to the Glade before nightfall when the doors in the walls close and keep the Glades safe from the creatures that roam the Maze during the nights.
Like Thomas, no one else in the Glade has many memories prior to arriving in the Glade. It seems the only way to regain your memories are to throw yourself into the path of danger and hope for the best. With Thomas’s arrival comes the beginning of the end and he realises that the time to find their way out is now. If they can’t figure out the secrets of the Maze and how to get out, they’re all going to die. One by one.
So The Maze Runner has been around for a little while now but expect a big resurgence in its popularity now that the feature film has begun showing at cinemas. It’s one of those books that I’ve always had on my radar, that I’ve been meaning to get around to and have never quite got there so I thought the chance to review the book and then go and see the movie would be a bit of fun!
In a post-apocalyptic world, there is the Glade. An area the size of a few football fields, surrounded by huge walls on all sides. During the day, there are openings from the Glade into the Maze but at night, the openings close keeping out the strange animal/machine hybrids that the Gladers call grievers. The Gladers are all children, between the ages of 12 and 17 and for two years now they’ve been trying to figure out a way out of the Glade through the Maze. So far they’re no closer to an answer and all they have to show for it are the fatalities of those who have tried and failed. Every month a new boy arrives in the box to join the group but the day after Thomas arrives, a girl shows up in the box. This is unheard of – the newbies are always male. And never have there been two in a row before. With the arrival of Teresa comes a message: she is the last one and this is the beginning of the end.
I honestly don’t know why I haven’t read this before now because I’m totally a sucker for this type of story. A bunch of children with almost no memories creating their own society and also attempting to figure out how to escape? Yep! That is totally my sort of thing. From the moment Thomas enters the glade I was hooked, wanting to ask all the questions Thomas does too. Where are they, what are the walls for, where do the openings go, why are they there? How do they survive? The answers come slowly, Thomas is drip-fed by those that are sort of in charge, the ones who sit on their council of sorts and make the decisions. Each boy has a role to play in the day to day running of their life. They are given supplies through the box but they also grow their own fruit and vegetables, raise their own animals (slaughtering some for food), choose leaders and conduct meetings to decide business.
Thomas feels in his bones that he was meant to be a Runner, that he’s here for a reason. But the Runners are the strongest, fittest, the most elite of the elite and you can’t just arrive and walk into being one the next day. Thomas proves himself by not only putting his life on the line but by also showing skill and ingenuity as well, showing the Gladers that there just might be a way to go up against the grievers and win. If they can do that, they can spend more time in the Maze trying to figure it out….and trying to escape. But Thomas quickly realises what their best way of remembering things is going to be and he’s determined to do it, sure that he and perhaps the mysterious Teresa, hold the key to the answer they need locked away inside their heads.
I actually enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would – it’s a fast paced book most of the way through, barring the first part which is just Thomas trying to ask questions and not getting answers. I think it will actually translate well into a movie – limited cast but a story that will make for some great moments. YA adaptations are very on trend right now and I think part of ensuring that continues is picking the right books to adapt to the big screen. Even though this book spends a lot of time in Thomas’s head, it’s not something that would be difficult to convey visually.
The great thing about being so late to join the party here is that the two sequels, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure are already out. And given the way The Maze Runner ends I can’t wait to go onto the next book and find out what happens next and hopefully learn more about the wider world.
Book #209 of 2014