Review: The Maze Runner Trilogy, James Dashner

When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone. He’s surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade – a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze. Like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they came to be there – or what’s happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything – even the Grievers, half-machine, half-animal horror that patrol its corridors, to try and find out.

I’ve had somewhat of a tumultuous relationship with these books. Let me explain.

maze runner

Knowing that the genre was everything I loved and more, I watched The Maze Runner film a few months ago. Yes, I know it is all a bit cliche, yes the book is obviously much better, but I really enjoyed the film and settled down to read the books a bit later when I had the time.

Although I loved the book’s premise, and all my friends know that I’m a sucker for the whole YA dystopian/science fiction thing, I found myself struggling to get into the first book. For some reason Dashner’s writing style just didn’t click with me – the dialogue was all a bit awkward and off – and I found his protagonist, Thomas, quite annoying and, dare I say it, unlikeable. I pushed past it, however, and persevered in my reading. And then, it happened. I suddenly and completely found myself caring about these characters, desperate to know what would happen to them, and reading the end of The Maze Runner and the next book, The Scorch Trials, in a sort of obsessed fit. (This sort of thing happens a lot. Book-related obsessed fits are a burden I must bear.)

What I enjoyed most about The Maze Runner was the surreal situation the boys found themselves in – the Lord of the Flies microcosm they established and the relationships that developed within it. The second book built on this in a setting outside of the maze, adding more layers to the plot and intriguing me further. Or maybe I should say confusing. There were certainly parts where I was confused.

Unfortunately the last book in the series, The Death Cure, let the whole thing down and was ultimately a disappointment. For me it became much too much like a post-apocalyptic zombie thriller, which I guess some people will love, but it lost the momentum and heart of the first two. The characters annoyed me, their relationships stagnated, they ran around all over the place, and I was left ultimately with a bitter taste in my mouth and mixed feelings about the whole series.


It all got me thinking about YA trilogies and the dreaded third book. Personally, I loved Mockingjay but I heard many complaints about it, and I understand that by splitting the book into two films they’ve definitely lost some of the momentum and action of the first two films. I’ve also heard lots of mixed opinions about Allegiant, and after watching Insurgent and giving the book another go, I’ll definitely be checking that out and posting a review sometime soon.

The YA genre is very dear to my heart and I just want to ensure that its members are all as well-rounded, thought-provoking and intelligent as they should be. Now is that so hard?

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