Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Genre: YA Adventure
Length: 386 pages
Read: October 21-30, 2014
Summary: fun but flawed
Frankly, I picked up The Maze Runner because it was made into a “major motion picture” — academic interest (visa via Untimed kicked in). It was a fun enough little adventure, an easy read, but boy… flaws.
First, there are the good things (and there aren’t many):
- The premise is intriguing. Cool “setup.”
- The pace is fast.
- There is a good amount of sci-fi mystery (even if kinda botched at the end). There are a lot of “rules” to the world building, which I like.
- Because this is a male author, he’s not sentimental.
- It’s better than Twilight.
Then there is the bad:
- The writing is lousy. The prose is clunky. Dashner LOVES to repeat words awkwardly, and despite being short, the book is terribly really definitely overwritten.
- Tell city. Not so much show. Even dialogue is often “told.” For an action book, the actual “action” or combat is barely choreographed. Instead it’s told in a hand-wavy way.
- Oh, the actual dialogue is often ridiculously stilted. There is the silly (but perhaps clever) way the author has replaced all the swear words with equivalent “slang” like fuck -> shuck. shit -> clunk. etc. This way he can have boys swearing left and right and keep his “PG” (MG?) style. The young audience curators can be fussy about profanity.
- The characters are marginally developed. For example, the main “girl” is in a coma until about 80% and then has barely any personality or dialogue. Nobody is very interesting or different. The characters don’t really act like real people a good bit of the time. They have no complexity.
- There is no action (and marginal chemistry) between Thomas and Theresa (and, who names a cute girl Theresa? That’s a nun name).
- The protagonist is too perfect and pretty much great at everything. His POV loves to point out the obvious.
- The mystery is all mysterious. But major things like “The Maze” aren’t well explored. Then near the end a whole bunch of answers are just dumped in and everything shifts negating the setup. There are a lot of good and interesting elements, but they aren’t well explored.
- The puzzles are lame.
- We, the readers, are told how to feel. The emotional situation is there, but the emotion not really warranted.
Reading it, I often felt like rolling my eyes. But I did manage to finish, and toy with the idea of reading the sequel. Probably mostly because the Sci-fi is okay. Considerably better than most dystopian drivel (like this one). I think the author actually read some Sci-fi. And he’s a guy. I’m generalizing, but female authors are usually better at character and male authors at world building. Big generalization. More like a 40/60 kinda thing.
I’m betting the movie is better than the book — which is a rarity.