THE MAZE RUNNER

By James Dashner
Reviewed by Kenny Brechner

The task of an author of heroic fiction parallels that of her central characters, however many hurdles they pass through, however far along the road they travel, the analogy of Odysseus' return, of Frodo's casting the ring into the fire, can always find a parallel in the author's achievement of a satisfying and truthful culmination. Few books offer a closer parallel of author and narrative than James Dashner's Maze Runner.

 A group of bright teen boys, whose memories have been altered to retain analogous memory, but to remove all personal memory, have been placed in a large glade surrounded by four towering walls. Each wall opens during the day and closes at night. Beyond the walls is a shifting maze patrolled by deadly creatures called Grievers at night, at least for the most part. The boys are aware that they are in some sort of experiment, being monitored by unknown persons they refer to as the Creators, who send them a metal box of supplies daily, and a new member once a month. The boys run an otherwise self contained agrarian society, with a council of keepers, and a select group of maze runners, who attempt to solve the puzzle and find an escape. The first two thirds of the book is tightly focused and very interesting. Most readers will be hooked indeed. 

The gladers have concluded that there appears to be  no solution to the maze, no way to solve the puzzle, and the author seems to have come to the same conclusion about the book. Two telepathically connected character appear in the glade on successive days, announcing that the end game has come. The result is that all the old rules have been thrown away and the gladers will be forced to find a solution or perish, one at a time. They are pushed along this new helter skelter path by their two new citizens, one being a boy, Thomas, who is the lead character, and narrator. the other is  a girl named Teresa who starts off in a coma, after making a dire pronouncement.

 Once Teresa awakens and the end game begins,  the whole narrative construction of the book is thrown aside in favor a mad jumbled dash to the finish. Thus, after stoutly carrying the narrative load for two thirds of the book, the load is abruptly dropped,  leaving author and characters to make a wild run for it. This is a shame as the book is loaded with potential. The use of an inventive language by the gladers really works, and the cohesion of their society is very persuasive and compelling. It is the first book in a trilogy and I certainly want to see what in the world is going on, what book two will bring to the table I mean to say.

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