I can already hear the complaints. What, only two stars? Are you crazy? Don’t you know that this book has won tons of awards? IT’S BEING TURNED INTO A MOVIE STARRING DYLAN O’BRIEN! I know, I know. I probably would have liked it a lot more ten to fifteen years ago, before I had expectations for plot and character development. But all in all, I was just disappointed.
Let’s start with the basics. Thomas wakes up in a box, really an elevator. He doesn’t know where he’s going, where he’s coming from, even much of who he is, other than his name. He pops out in this idyllic grassy field and is greeted by a fairly sizable group of teenage boys. He wonders what’s going on, but nobody will tell him anything. “Oh, you haven’t been here long enough,” they say. So, both Thomas and the reader are essentially in the dark and totally confused for the first 200 pages. All we find out is that they’re in this place called the Glade, but nobody knows why they’re there. Or where, exactly, the Glade is. Everything else is shrouded in mystery, which makes it seem like there’s something awesome going on. Except there really isn’t.
My first criticism, and it may seem silly, is that I can tell this book was written for children. Now, I read a lot of YA. I have no problem reading about teenagers, especially in dystopian situations. After all, some of my favorite books follow this same model of teenagers being thrust into crazy situations and having to fend for themselves. The difference between The Maze Runner and these other books is that the others have character development and reasonable plot twists and resolutions. The Maze Runner does not.
Aside from the plot, I took issue with the pacing of the novel. The book is 374 pages long. For at least the first 200 pages, nothing really happens. I just kept carrying on, sure that the big reveal would be in the next chapter. It’s not. The Maze Runner just kind of ambles along, taking its time, building up unnecessary suspense as it goes. Then there are a few conflicts (probably 100 pages worth), but we still really don’t learn anything about why exactly these kids have been sent to this weird place. Finally, on the last few pages, we get a tiny glimpse at the answer, but not enough to be satisfying.
Maybe you’ll absolutely love this book. Maybe you’ll hate it. Maybe you’ll be somewhere in between. Personally, I feel that The Maze Runner did not live up to the hype at all.
Final rating: ★★☆☆☆