I am not going to review the whole series. Why? Because I read the first book and have decided that this series is really not meant for me. It is meant for someone, but it is not me, and I have so many other books that I am itching to read right now, but not the rest of this series. (I believe that I can do it justice by reading the first book and the beginning of the second.) Unfortunately, my daughter came to the same conclusion, a couple years ago, about halfway through the first book. I remember her saying to me, “They just kept running and running through the maze!” While that might not be a fair assessment, I understand her feelings, like when I first read Harry Potter and the Quidditch scenes seemed to creep up on me often and stretch out forever. (They don’t actually, I just don’t like reading about sports, while there are so many who do.)
On the other hand, I imagine that my son is going to really enjoy the Maze Runner series. When he’s done with Dragon Breath, he’s going to begin it, and I imagine that he will finish it. There are things about it that I think will appeal to him, to, indeed, many tween boys. Very Lord of the Flies. And it somehow reminds me of my husband’s enduring affection for any movies involving a group of teen boys setting out on a creepy adventure, ala Stand by Me, Stranger Things, The Goonies, Super 8, Earth to Echo, etc. It also smacks of Ender’s Game.
On one hand, the writing isn’t really anything special. If it was, I might stay on board despite the subject matter. It gets the point across, but I felt like I was reading something meant for my son and not for me. James Dashner wasn’t trying to impress me with his literary genius or his poetry. He was trying to suck me into a story that was exciting and perhaps thought-provoking. This is a dystopian thriller for twelve-year-olds, though it is possible that there is content that is a little more geared at high schoolers. (There’s quite a bit of violence, death, things that go bump in the night, etc.) There are still many high schoolers who would enjoy this as a summer read.
The Maze Runner series is:
- The Maze Runner
- The Scorch Trials
- The Death Cure
- The Kill Order (prequel)
- The Fever Code (prequel)
- The Maze Runner Files (companion book)
Yeah, these books aren’t literary giants, but they are enjoyable reading. You might roll your eyes, but you keep asking what’s going to happen next and, indeed, what has happened in the past to get these kids here. The set up is this: a boy wakes up to find himself in a dark box, not knowing who he is or why he is there. When the box opens, he is in a strange place where boys have shown up just like him, for years, finding themselves set up for survival but alone and unable to find themselves out of the giant maze swarming with deadly creatures back to… well, to what, they can’t remember. Mysteries abound, as well as action and creepiness. There’s not much subtlety here. The characters are fairly stock and the plot twists at times seem either obvious or too neat. But if you’re not old and wizened, like me, you might be surprised and perhaps even delighted (though that’s not what you’d call it).
I would recommend this as the type of literature that might get otherwise reluctant readers reading. It’s modern and verges on horror for the age of kids who would like to explore that sort of thing. There’s friendship. There’s a little bit of, well maybe it’s romance. There’s survival and fighting and, true, lots and lots of running. Plenty of time spent in Thomas’s head, leading the reader to put himself in the situation and wonder what they would do. It reads a little like a movie or video game, and the movies have been made. I’m sure I’ll be watching them with my son before the year is up.