Reading YA as a grown up is fun because, despite the simpler style, certain coming-of-age adventures provide a nostalgic value. The Maze Runner took me back to those middle school books that cemented my love of literature. The world was built well. Things were revealed in a timely fashion. I felt emotionally connected to the protagonist. The novel’s strengths—character development, pacing—caused the weak elements to fade into the background. Overall, I enjoyed it more the closer I got to the epic conclusion. And it is epic.
I’d say The Maze Runner is appropriate for anyone 6th grade and up. It does depend on your tolerance for violence: there are serious threats, and pretty much everyone suffers injuries at some point in time. While this rules out younger readers, it also heightens the stakes, which, in my opinion, is vital enough to be worth it.
My main issue with Dashner’s style is his choice to tell us a lot of things instead of showing us and letting us figure things out. For instance, in Chapter 3, we learn about a new threat. We’re told that the other character’s “words had a heavy weight of dread to them.” I’d have liked to see Thomas’ stomach turn, or a shiver, or even the messenger lowering his voice. There were a lot of instances in which we were advised to feel a certain way, when I believe readers could have gotten there on their own.
In terms of things it does well, the characters, while initially a tad awkward in group scenes, become progressively more fleshed out. I was quite impressed with the discussions in the second half. Dashner’s range of personality types is something I grew to respect.
In that same vein, the action scenes increasingly enthralled me. For the last fifty pages, I was emotionally locked in. And the ending…well, there’s just plot twist upon plot twist. I thought I knew what was happening up to the last page, and then I found out I was wrong. So, excellent development—and I really liked the spacing of everything.
I’m giving The Maze Runner a 3.5 out of 5 stars. While the world building was right on par with other popular YA series, certain explanations and interactions didn’t dazzle me. The writing was klunky in a few places. However, it’s tangible that Dashner put a lot of love and care into the adventure, and that led me to care about it, as well.
Have you read this book or seen the movie? Is it on your TBR shelf? Let me know your thoughts below! 🙂