Reviews: The Maze Runner & The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner 1&2) by James Dashner

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To go along with my angry rant *cough* review of The Death Cure, here are my reviews for the first two books in the series…

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)Photobucket
(Read April 11, 2011)
I love mazes (and labyrinths, although they are technically something entirely different), but for some reason, when this book came out I wrote it off, thinking that it would be a sort of juvenile adventure story, and not really my thing. I didn’t know anything about it, but the title just didn’t call to me.

So when I finally did get around to reading it, even after many, many people have told me how great it is, I was still impressed by how awesome it is.

Oh awesomeness, let me count the ways:

1) Story: Thomas, his memory wiped of any identifying clues, finds himself in a micro-community in the middle of a giant maze. The boys living in “the Glade”, as they call it, aren’t friendly or helpful. They are just as confused and scared and pissed off at being trapped as Thomas himself is.
They do their best to look for a way out, to survive and to keep order, but the dangers keep mounting and mounting and things are coming to a head.

I loved the feeling of helplessness and confusion and chaos in the story. From the very first page, I was drawn in, wondering what was going on, what was going to happen, whether they will find something to help them get out, whether they will live or die, how they got there and why, what new terror was around the bend… literally. This was almost non-stop to start with – learning a new life all over again, and then throw in the maze running and danger and I had to set it down just for a little break now and then.

2) Characters: I loved all of the characters in this story, even when I despised what they were doing. I believed their terror and confusion and their lack of control over the situation and themselves within it. I felt their frustration because of all of this, and the tension. I was proud of them for continuing to try.
The only character that I had a little trouble immediately connecting with was Teresa, and I think only that because she appeared so late in the book.

3) Suspense: I mentioned it above, but I have to give it its own section here, because this book was Suspense City. From the very beginning, we’re on edge simply because, like our main character, we are thrust into this new situation blind. No frame of reference, no prior warning, no preparation — but lots of hot-headed and closed-mouthed boys. And then there are the Grievers. And the Changing. And the Cliff. These things were so incredibly creepy that I was mentally kicking myself for not having read this awesomeness sooner.

4) Writing: I loved the way that this story was written, which means that I barely noticed it at all. Aside from the boys’ slang words, like ‘klunk’ and ‘shank’ etc, the writing went pretty much unnoticed.
I will say also that James Dashner sure the hell knows how to make a little go a looooooong way, because even though I felt frustrated by not knowing anything about anything for, let’s face it, almost the entire book, I felt that way along with the characters, not as a reader, which is a huge and vital distinction. And even now, after finishing it, I still have more questions than answers.

Luckily, the library called and The Scorch Trials is waiting for me. Then I just have to wait for October for The Death Cure. *sigh*

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings… 😉

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The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, #2)Photobucket
(Read April 13, 2011)
Wow. That was a thrill ride! James Dashner really knows how to ratchet up the tension.

This book was very different from The Maze Runner, much less eerie and creepy mysterious, but what it lacks there, it more than makes up for in tension and action. We learn more about the world outside of the maze, and about the flares and the Flare, and we meet Cranks, which reminded me somewhat of the “zombies” suffering from Rage in 28 Days Later – OK, well, at least those past Gone.

We have some shifting of characters in this one. We lose some and gain others, and others just seem like new characters because of their role in this phase of the story. Minho has a much larger role here, and this makes me happy, because he is awesome. I love his character.

There are twists and turns and crazy plot developments aplenty, and I felt like a ballerina for as much as I was on my toes reading this. This isn’t a book one skims – blink and you’ve missed a shift and the story is now going in a completely unexpected direction.

Fantastic stuff… Is it October yet?

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