The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)

Bibliographic information: The Maze Runner. James Dashner. Delacorte Press, 2009. $16.99. 375p. ISBN-13:  978-0385737944.
Summary:  Thomas woke up in a black box with no memory as to who he was except for his first name. When the black box finally opens he is surrounded by a bunch of other boys about around the same age, not a girl in site. The other boys eventually explain to him that they have no memories either and woke up in this strange place they call the Glade. Upon inspection, Thomas discovers that the Glade is in the middle of a ginormous maze will walls that tower over the Glade. The Glade has everything they need to live, but they have Runners who go out into the maze every day and draw maps so that they can hopefully solve it and leave. Turns out the walls move every day, so it is really hard to solve and at night grievers come out, deadly creatures that are half mechanical half animal. The day after Thomas arrives the black box brings another person. This has never happened before, things run like clockwork in the Glade. When the doors open and there is a girl inside things start to go downhill from there. The end is near.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: 11 and up
Review: Harrowing yet hopeful, this dystopian novel is packed with thrilling and suspenseful moments that will captivate the minds of young readers. After being thrown into a deathly dangerous maze and made to take part in these trials, Thomas must take action and think quick to survive. This is a fast paced thriller with tons of unexpected twists, from things such as the grievers, part mechanical and part animal, to a girl showing up in the Glade spouting that it’s the end. Each character is has their unique task they are appointed throughout the trials, but they don’t necessarily stick and seem to jump around from character to character at will. It is written in a narrative with a focus on Thomas, the main protagonist and hero of this story. Don’t be too quick to fall in love with any character because you never know what might happen to them in this hazardous adventure. This book discusses the age-old question of whether it is okay to sacrifice the few for the many and Thomas’s belief on this subject seems to change as the story continues. With a lot of action, intrigue, unanswered questions, and possibly a little love, this story is begging for a sequel.
Readers’ annotation: The Gladers live inside a giant maze with moving walls, until Thomas shows up and then everything falls apart. Who is Thomas and how does he fit into it all?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: Everybody fears death and most people fear zombies. This book has both of these things and reading it will be a great way for children to fight these fears safely. They will be able to understand the zombies are not real and everybody faces death eventually in their life and there is nothing to fear by these things. The violence in books can be used as a coping tool for children to help them deal with the violence in their own lives.
Issues present: Children are being killed left and right by random horrific events. There is lots of violence and anger. And there are zombie-like creatures. But children have to understand that deaths do occur and not just to adults. Everybody feels angry at times and may have violent tendencies, generally they can hold them back. As for the zombie-like creatures they are great examples of monsters that children fear and will act as agents to help children fight their fears of monsters safely.
Booktalk ideas: Describe the maze and the boys trapped inside.
Introduce Thomas’ character – can’t remember anything except his first name, P 1: all the way down to “That…that was the only thing he could remember about his life.”
P 125: “With a click and a clack…” to the end of page – Matt coming face-to-face with a griever for the first time. Attention grabber.
Genre or subject: Science Fiction: dystopian, post-apocalyptic
Readalikes:  The Hunger Games, Ship Breaker, The House of the Scorpion, Incarceron, Divergent, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Giver
Author’s website:
Awards: Georgia Peach Book Award (2012), Romantic Times (RT) Reviewers’ Choice Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy Novel (2009), Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee (2011), YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011), Kentucky Bluegrass Award for grades 9-12 (2011)
Reviews:  School Library Journal:
Why I chose it: I chose this book for my blog because I think that it is one of the best dystopian novels since The Giver. I am highly obsessed with dystopian novels.


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Filed under Death, Dystopias, Supernatual monsters

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