The Maze Runner by James Dashner
A boy wakes up in a pitch-dark elevator that seems to go up forever. He can’t remember who he is, why he’s in the elevator, doesn’t know where he’s going. When the elevator finally stops, he finds himself in a strange farm community run by boys—only boys.
The farm (called “the Glade”) is surrounded by a massive stone maze,and every day the boys send runners out to explore the maze and search for an exit. But there are monsters in the maze—half-living, half-mechanical creatures that will tear apart anyone they catch—and, as if that isn’t bad enough, the maze rearranges itself every night. So every morning, the runners must start all over again.
That’s how this brilliant new book from James Dashner begins, and in the hands of other writers, it could have turned into a gray, predictable allegory for life, futility, art, etc. But The Maze Runner is anything but gray or predictable. There is no Lord of the Flies style anarchy, or Ender’s Game “us against the buggers” simplicity. The society the boys have created is tightly structured and stresses safety and responsibility above all; and yet, people still die. Thomas, the main character, may be a hero or he may be in league with their captors—no one is really sure. Even the Glade may not be what it appears to be: It could be a prison, or it could be the last safe haven in a post-apocalyptic world. No one knows, because no one can remember anything more than a few hints and flashes of life before the Maze.
And then, of course, everything changes. The day after Thomas appears, a second new prisoner arrives in the elevator: a girl—the only girl ever sent to the Glade.
Intense and tightly plotted, The Maze Runner falls squarely in the page-turner category. And though I was a little irritated to discover that this is the first book in a series (a small bit of information conveniently omitted from the cover, for some reason), I still think The Maze Runner is one of the best additions to YA fiction this year. I just hope Dashner won’t take too long to finish the remaining volumes.