A Book Set in the Future: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner CoverI picked The Maze Runner series for several reasons; I needed a trilogy, I wanted something that I wouldn’t have otherwise chosen, and the movie looked interesting. So there I was with James Dashner’s The Maze Runner. On paper, heh, I should have enjoyed it…

The basic premise seemed interesting; a boy wakes up in strange glade, surrounded by a horrific maze, with a small group of boys living there. They all have no memories, aside from their names, and are trying to find a way out of the maze. Every month supplies and a new arrival turn up in a metal elevator. They know there is something they need to do, and figure it’s to solve the maze.

Writing that last paragraph I’m thinking: “Wow, this is a story I want to read”. But it’s not, not really, and I found that out a third of the way through the book. I kept reading in the hope it would get better; which just shows that I learned nothing from my Game of Thrones experience. Once you start getting a picture of what’s happening then the story starts to fall apart.

I found the writing to be quite dry, following the ‘tell, don’t show’ school of writing. The story would have been much better if the author described the scene and let me get my own feels on, rather than telling the reader what to think and feel. The central premise of the maze being a diabolic experiment holds up. But the reason behind it doesn’t and that killed my suspension of disbelief. It felt tacked on. I’d kept reading to find out why the maze existed, and once I got there I felt pretty ripped off.

There are several other big WHYs that would have made more sense:

  • To show we have power over the children of our political enemies (‘The Hunger Games’).
  • To use stress and self-preservation to unlock psychic powers (like the jaunt in ‘Tiger Tiger’).
  • To harden and prepare the children for greater hardship or war (‘Enders Game’, kinda).
  • Because we can.

Even the last one would’ve made more sense than: ’To find out why they’re immune to a disease’. Seriously. That’s like writing a story about sadistically beating and killing children to see if it would make it rain. My thought is that the author may have either had a different set up, but had to change it, or just pulled it out of his arse. I’m even getting pissed off now. My oldest daughter is nearly ten and she’d call bullshit on it as well. Give your audience some credit.

I’m not going to read the sequels so I’m putting this one under ‘A book set in the future’. What’s disappointing is that this story could have been great, should have been great, but really just was ‘meh’. It’s The Phantom Menace of books.

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