If you enjoy feeling lost and confused with no apparent way out, this book is perfect for you. To everyone else, I recommend you avoid wasting your time by getting lost in this maze of frustration.
The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, is a #1 New York Times Bestseller that was recently released as a film. Unless you’ve had your head buried in the cultural sand, you’ve probably seen a poster or advertisement that declared this book to be “A Must for Fans of The Hunger Games.” Due to these acclamations, I picked up this book with great anticipation. Maybe this would be the edge-of-your-seat thriller I was looking for to keep me focused and alert during my commute home from work each day!
But once I was inside, the heavy stone door slammed shut and I found myself trapped in a labyrinth of disappointments. Here are the main reasons I felt so underwhelmed:
The Hunger Games was a powerful ride which gripped my emotions and put them through the ringer. In comparison, The Maze Runner just fell flat. The characters have lost all their memories, so they have no back story, no past to overcome, and no future that we can see. Without any sort of context, this book simply recounts a set of isolated events that take place over a few weeks.
And without history or relational connections of any kind, there is no emotional appeal. I really cared for the characters in The Hunger Games, while the emotional isolation of The Maze Runner left me feeling absolutely nothing, even when certain characters faced their untimely demise.
I hate story characters that cuss and curse. As far as I’m concerned, this is a great way for an author to get their book a one-way trip to my trash can.
While The Maze Runner refrains from using actual curse words, the “made-up” curses used by its characters just happen to rhyme with very offensive English swear words, and it quickly becomes obvious that the meaning is pretty much the same. It ends up feeling like a cheap and shameless way to “curse without cursing,” and I’m honestly surprised that the editors allowed Dashner to get away with it.
To make matters worse, the author is much too proud of his “imaginary” arsenal of foul language. The children of the story cope with being locked into a giant maze by cursing at one another incessantly, to the point that I found myself laughing at how ridiculous it all was.
If You Come Across The Maze Runner… Run!
Long story short, I wouldn’t allow my children to read this book due to the cursing, and comparing it to The Hunger Games is nothing but a marketing sham. If forced to choose between being locked up indefinitely within a set of giant stone walls and reading this book, I suppose I’d choose the book…
…but it would be a close call.
Christian Reader Rating: PG – For depictions of death and violence and the frequent use of imaginary curse words.
Not recommended for children of any age.