THE MAZE RUNNER (The Maze Runner #1) - by James Dashner

The Maze Runner - James Dashner
Year Published: 2014 - by Chicken House.
Genres: Dystopia / young adult / science fiction
Pages: 371.
Source: Library.

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human. When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone. Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade. Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive. Everything is going to change. Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying. Remember. Survive. Run.


I watched snippets of The Maze Runner film about two years ago and didn't really like what I saw. Then I watched The Scorch Trials and loved that. Since then, I've wanted to read the books and see how they compare.
So I finally got round to picking up the first book. And I was so disappointed. 


The idea is brilliant. So, so much potential, and I really liked how Dashner executed it. But having said that, I didn't think the writing was great. The pacing was sloppy - I especially thought Teresa's arrival was too close to the start to leave a big enough impact on me; it didn't make the impression it should have made because I was still getting into the world and the story.
The writing was also amateurish and unoriginal. 
On a positive note, however, it was wonderfully dark, gritty, and held together by a strong concept. 

The characters were the real let-down for me. They all sounded the same. But I have to say this: since I watched the movie first, it was very hard for me to separate Dashner's writing with the visuals I'd seen in the film. I think because I watched the movie first, the characters seemed more rounded to me than they would have seemed if I was just reading without any preconceived images of them in my head. That said, I tried hard to judge Dashner's writing based solely on his writing; which was difficult. But when I did manage to try ignore the film's perception of the characters, I can say that they were still very badly developed, flat, and static. The dialogue and actions did nothing to separate them from each other, and I found it very hard to like anyone. I thought Thomas and Chuck's friendship was way too forced, and *takes deep breath* that brings me to Thomas...

Thomas was a huge, huge, HUGE pain. He was annoying, flat, and just plain stupid. Then, as the story progressed, he became the hero: the one everyone's dying to save, the one everyone's believing can do no wrong, the one everyone worships. I had no patience for that.  And I really don't get why his surviving the maze that night was the first time anyone's done it. That was silly and unrealistic and a weak plot toy.
He became too "goody goody", and he stupidly kept things to himself that would have saved everyone a lot of time if he'd just told them outright (like Teresa talking to him in his head - he was afraid the others wouldn't believe him if he told them, so he kept it to himself. That's a pathetic excuse for wasting the story's time).

Thomas also made a really cruel, stupid comment towards the end of the book:

"The scream ran on, shattering the air, overpowering the other sounds of war, until it faded in death. Thomas felt his heart tremble, hoped it wasn't someone he knew."
~ pg 336. 

Excuse me, dude?! How disgusting can you be to think that thought as someone dies a slow and painful death?!   
But then, on page 345, there's a contradiction to the previous statement as another character dies: 

"It {the death} still hurt, even though he hadn't known them very well." 



The Maze Runner was carried by a strong idea and, for the most part, excitement. But the characters were flat, boring, annoying, and it was impossible for me to sympathise with them. In addition, the writing wasn't great.