The Maze Runner by James Dashner
This book opens with a boy waking up in an unfamiliar place with no memories of his past. Thomas learns that life in the Glade is a strange combination of Lord of the Flies and the myth of the labyrinth and the minotaur. His arrival disrupts the patterns that had been established, and it becomes more urgent than ever that he and the other boys find their way out of the maze.
I wasn’t impressed with the characterization in this novel. There were a few times when Thomas said he felt some strong desire, but he wasn’t sure why. This was explained as an effect of his memory loss, but mostly it served to distance the reader from the character and make him feel wooden and not alive. His relationships were the same way. He becomes friends with a younger boy named Chuck, and their interactions seem formulaic, as if the author was checking off a box marked “build up relationship so that the loss at the end is more tragic.”
The boys in the Glade make their own slang, which was one of the more interesting points of the novel’s sentence-level writing. Dashner did a decent job with this, but it’s not as good as in other books that make up their own slang, like: the Leviathan series, Ender’s Game, Divergent, Pure, The Passage, Feed, and perhaps best of all, the TV series Firefly and its movie Serenity. Dashner wins the prize for stupidest invented slang word: shuck, used in pretty much exactly the same way as the word it rhymes with.
The book ends with the boys about to learn about the true purpose of the maze. I’m interested in the dystopian, post-apocalyptic aspect of this series, so I think I’ll pick up the next novel to see where the series is going. This book is being made into a movie, so I’ll also want to watch the adaptation.