Thomas remembers only one thing when he wakes up in the dark elevator, and that is his first name. The elevator deposits him a glade where he finds himself surrounded other teen boys. Like him, the only thing that they remember of their lives is their names, and they all have found that they must survive in the Glade, surrounded by massive walls that close every night and protect the Gladers from the nasty creatures that roam the maze that surrounds their home. During the day, while most of the Gladers work for survival, an elite number of boys run out into the Maze, looking for an escape.
But everything changes the day Thomas arrives—he vaguely recognizes the Glade, and he knows he is meant to be a Maze Runner. And then the day after he arrives, a girl is deposited into the Glade. She's also vaguely familiar, and her arrival triggers a series of events that force the boys find a way out of the Glade. They can only succeed if somehow Thomas can unlock the secrets in his own lost memories.
The Maze Runner is intensely compelling from the first page, and James Dashner does an excellent job at drawing out the suspense as he reveals the truths about the Glade, the boys, and the Maze slowly and steadily. At the beginning of the story, Thomas doesn't know what sort of person he is, and it is very interesting to read about his reactions to certain situations and he tries desperately to remember anything about his past. He is a very sympathetic character as his frustration at the lack of information about the Maze often mirrors the reader's, but the story never becomes too vague or boring.
Dashner's action scenes are written extremely well, with just enough detail to put the reader into the moment, but not so verbose that readers will find themselves rushing through the paragraphs to discover what happens next. The plot moves at a steady, quick pace and the interactions between the boys provide plenty of laughs and drama. The Maze Runner is like a combination of the most interesting elements in Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games, but infused with its own unique humor and slang and smart problem-solving skills that keeps you guessing all the way through, with an ending that will leave you hanging in suspense, with many unanswered questions and theories. The Maze Runner is a chilling, creepy read reminiscent of the TV show Lost, a book that will appeal to a wide range of readers.
Cover Comments: I do like this cover though I don't think it's anything too spectacular. The images of the walls and the Maze beyond are neat, and I think they are interesting and a bit creepy looking. I like the font that the title is in as well. The cover certainly looks like it belongs on a dystopia novel.