I admit from the start with this one my whole reason for reading The Maze Runner was that I am a Teen Wolf and Dylan O’Brien fan. When I heard he was starring in the movie based on The Maze Runner I was tremendously excited. As an admitted bookworm with a penchant for dystopian fiction, and a huge fan of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, this looked to be right up my alley.
It’s a straightforward premise: A bunch of kids get their memories wiped and are thrown into a giant maze. It’s up to them to figure out how to survive and why they are there in the first place. It all has a very Lord of the Flies sense to it in that the kids end up creating their own sort of society, but not quite to the same level of mayhem. They are all boys with the exception of one girl, Theresa, who shows up after Thomas. Thomas, “the greenie”, and Theresa really shake up the dynamic the boys have created.
This brings us to our main character, Thomas. The book starts with him being dropped into a dark box not knowing who he is or where he is. It is utter confusion for both Thomas and the reader. I’ll be honest, this is the point where I firmly placed Dylan O’Brien as Thomas in my head and it only got stronger as the scene continued. He’s on the verge of a panic attack and tries to calm himself down by telling himself to “trust his instincts”. For any Teen Wolf fan out there this is a pretty funny thing for Thomas to be saying as it was one of the major taglines of the show. My hope is that the line makes it into the movie because it will be very entertaining to see Thomas/Dylan uttering these words.
The book as a whole is great and you can see how it can easily be turned into an entertaining young adult movie. Excellent protagonist, interesting setting, and enough plot to keep the reader interested. That being said, it wasn’t a perfect read. The Gladers, all the kids in the stuck in the maze with Thomas call themselves Gladers, have their own unique slang language. Instead of using most curse words they use words like “shuck” or “slinthead” to convey the same meaning. It’s used without thought among the Gladers, but can be slightly off-putting to the unsuspecting reader. Made up languages are not new things in dystopian fiction, although this is the first time I have seen it used in young adult dystopian fiction. I admit I was not a fan of the made up language as it reminded me too much of my experiences of having to read A Clockwork Orange for course work. It was used in A Clockwork Orange to show that Alex, the main character, was a member of his own unique subculture away from the norms of society, and to a certain extent it was used to confuse the reader and make Alex’s amoral nature even more striking when the reader eventually figures it out. In The Maze Runner it shows just how long these kids have been on their own and how on some level they are still kids as they shy away from using the real expletives in favor of the made up ones. Maybe on some level they are still scared of what their parents will do if they are caught using bad language. On the whole it was definitely inspired by Burgess’s Nadsat language from A Clockwork Orange, but not quite up to that level of complexity.
One other thing that jarred me out of reading a few times was the use of epithets. These are the bane of any fan fiction readers existence, and probably the only reason I really noticed them. Fan fiction and especially slash fan fiction over-employ them a lot. It’s any instance of the writer replacing a pronoun or a name with a phrase such as “the darker haired man” or “the younger girl”. Used sparingly, these can be effective. But when epithets get overused they are annoying and confusing to the reader. People have names; use them.
The Maze Runner is a good book it’s not a masterpiece, nor is it attempting to be one. It’s a good young adult book that can very easily be turned into an above average young adult movie. Only time will tell if this proves to be true but for now the story speaks for itself.
Author: Grace G
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