Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Most recently I finished this book, which is exciting simply because the third book in the series is coming out in a few days.  I will get a chance to read Scorch Trials before diving into Death Cure.  I read that Scorch leaves ya hangin' and I hate waiting, so this is perfect.

On the other hand, my 12 yr old son has been reading Hunger Games and looking through these dramatic books through his eyes is a little traumatic for me, as Mom.  He seemed to be just fine, while I cried reading about Rue's death over his shoulder all over again.  How can anyone read about Rue and not cry?!  In that context, I wasn't so thrilled about ANY situation that throws a bunch of kids together and orders them to kill each other.  But then again, I was never a fan of The Lord of the Flies, either.  I don't care about psychological observation of human nature as much as the value of human life in any context.  So... BLEH!

Here's my thoughts regarding Maze immediately after reading it (SPOILERS!!):

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

My first thought is that it is amazing to me what is considered “young adult”.  I cringe when I think of my own 7th grader reading this book.  But maybe the idea of facing death head-on is as exciting to him as it is to me.  The Grievers are hard for me to imagine.  Slugs don’t seem dangerous and I had to pay close attention to the scary weapons to see how they could kill someone.  The fear felt through the boys’ eyes looking at them was frightening enough, however.  Since Thomas learns what is going on slowly, the book made sense just as slowly.  I didn’t understand that the Maze was on earth for a long time or that it was futuristic after a major disaster.  Timeline and post-disaster help explain how “scientists” could put young kids in a situation where they will die horrible deaths.  For example, it is absolutely horrible that the kids would learn that they could not go back down the hole by the first volunteer getting cut in half.  And it’s worse that the kids would then dig a short grave and cover the decaying body with glass so everyone would remember to never try the hole again.  Seriously gross.  I can’t even imagine a world so devastated that slicing kids in half is acceptable loss.
Because the scientific aspect is the entire premise of the story, it is hard to look at the book beyond that.  I am very interested in reading Scorch Trials and the third book comes out October 11th and I can’t wait.  Yes, I am horrified by what the situation was and is and how the world looks in their time, whenever that is, but I’m also very interested in Thomas and how he survives.  I am so glad Newt and Minho made it out along with Teresa and the rest.  I am looking forward to watching and listening to them again and seeing what they discover about themselves and whether, hopefully, they can overcome this WICKED group of scientists.  I am also interested if the end justifies the means to some degree for the scientists, too, although I can’t imagine that I would agree with them.  There is so many questions left unanswered, so much memory still lost, that anything could happen.  I agree with the surviving group, hopelessness cannot be simply accepted, it must be challenged.  And I really want them to overcome it and find beauty and safety somewhere, so I’m eager to read on.
I saw this book compared to Hunger Games in other reviews and I agree.  The similarities include the stark reality of a horrible future and the fate of kids surviving it.  I adjusted to the boys’ slang really quickly and I prefer klunk to shit, quite honestly.  The author enabled the boys to be as raw and cuss-mouthed as they wanted to be in that situation without turning the book into a rated R scene based on obscenity alone.  I actually like “good that” for agreement.  Some of the words are really good, better than what we might say, although it’s different  enough to draw attention.  At least it’s not written in the present tense that Hunger Games is.  That’s like a whole different comfort zone of watching these kids figure this stuff out almost from the point of view of the scientists rather from Katniss’s head. 
Do I recommend this book?  Sure.  If you don’t mind nasty slugs sawing youngsters up for no reason at all, go for it.  It’s exciting.