I read The Maze Runner by James Dashner recently and came to the conclusion that he is evil. Each night, I planned on reading just a chapter or two before going to bed, but nooooooooo. Before I knew it, an hour and several chapters would go by and I still wanted to keep reading. Doesn't he know that I need my beauty sleep?!
Seriously (I'll try, anyway), The Maze Runner is one of the most incredible books I've read in quite a while. At first, I was baffled as to why. The subject matter is not normally something I would be interested in. I normally want light and funny. The Maze Runner isn't either of those; not even close. So I would say that this book is not for younger readers or those prone to nightmares. There are some very dark and scary images created. In fact, I had some really weird dreams after reading (i.e. don't read at night if you can help it). They had something to do with walls closing in on me while I was being chased by some cross between a cow and a slug (aha! There's another part to his diabolical machinations – to give me bizarre dreams).
So why do I like it so much? I've pondered that for a while and kept asking myself this as I kept turning pages into the late night hours. For one thing, he does something similar to what I do: write short chapters with some kind of 'cliff hanger' ending that propels you forward. I call these Frito Lay chapters, because you get to the end and say, “Just one more, just one more.”
The story begins with a boy named Thomas who finds himself with no memories of his past and in the middle of a community of teenagers with the same problem. They are surrounded by a maze that changes every day and closes at night while these monstrous things, called Grievers, patrol the maze. Dashner explained on his website that he wanted to mix The Lord of the Flies with Ender's Game. I think he did that pretty well. Of course, I hated Golding's premise in Flies that boys, when left without adult supervision, will turn evil. I appreciate that Dashner took the opposite philosophy; that people are inherently good and will seek to do the right thing.
As far as my rating system goes, I give it a: L-8/S-0/VG-110/AD-0. The L is language, which was technically pretty clean, though there was a lot of swearing. Dashner used made-up swear words to avoid the real ones. The other 8 instances, I believe, were all 'crap'. The book had some fairly violent and gory sections, hence the 110 rating. Broken down, it scored 83 for violence and 27 for gore. And, of course, there was no sex or alcohol usage.
I highly recommend this book for those who don't mind a little violence and want a good, suspenseful read. I would suggest it for older teens and up, though some younger readers may be okay with the scary imagery. I suggest that the parents read this book first if you have a question about whether or not your child can handle it. I can't wait for the sequel.
There, now that I'm done reading it, I can get caught up on my sleep.