Maze Runner Trilogy
by James Dashner
4.5/5 – Leo Turnbull
The Maze Runner books are a series of cleverly planned titles, set in a dystopian future. The first book in the series, The Maze Runner, starts off inside a massive maze and plunges you into instant confusion, as you do not know anything about this strange new world. This is a very effective opening that makes you want to read more. The series continues with two further books, that continue the story, then finally there are two other books which are prequels. It proves just how engrossing this series is, as I have read all five books in a matter of weeks!
The first book is set entirely in the maze, which (thanks to super advanced technology) changes its paths every day. In the middle of the maze, there is the Glade, a safe area where there are beds, food and farms. The inhabitants of the maze, who are all teenage boys, are called ‘Gladers’, many who have been trapped inside for years. No-one in the maze can remember anything that happened before, suggesting that their minds have been wiped by someone or something. One thing that everyone does know, though, is that you don’t want to be outside of the Glade and in the maze at night. At night, the Grievers come out – terrible mechanical monsters equipped with sharp objects and spikes. They never come into the Glade, however, as colossal walls close at night to separate the two.
The first book starts when Thomas arrives in the Glade through a mysterious portal-like box. He can’t remember anything, but his arrival is not a surprise to anyone. Every month, once a month, for as long as anyone can remember, a new boy is dropped into the Glade. However, when another person arrives the next day, everyone is even more shocked when they discover that it’s a girl – Teresa. Everyone, including Thomas, suspects that he had something to do with it, but no-one can think what it is. This sets in motion a chain of events that may (or may not…) lead to the Gladers’ escape from the maze.
The books are written extremely well, as they maintain a feeling of tension throughout the whole narrative. Even when something good happens, you can’t help but wonder if it was planned, as the characters’ minds have been messed with before, so why could it not happen again? The plot is fast-moving but easy to understand, meaning that you’re never quite sure what will happen in the next chapter. There are lots of cliffhangers, as well as shocking twists that you couldn’t have predicted.
All the characters have very distinct personalities, and it is easy to differentiate between them. By the end of the first book, you feel as if you know the characters personally and know how they feel and would react to different situations. There are lots of clues in the books that are hidden in plain sight, but you only realise what they mean after you know other things. This is very clever plotting on behalf of the author, and I always enjoy books that mak you work hard!
While the story is set in the distant future, it is still realistic, which allows you to identify with the characters and want them to escape. There is no magic, and everything can be explained in one way or another, which I like as it means that completely fantastical things can’t just ‘happen’, which would spoil the realism of the story. In this way, it is similar to the Hunger Games (read my full review on the Hunger Games here).
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the Maze Runner series and would highly reccommend it to anyone who likes dystopian fiction. On a first reading, it is important to read each book in order, but when I re-read the series, I am tempted to start with book five to get a sense of the chronological events. There are also films of the first three books, which I am now intending to watch.