Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2009
Genre: Fiction, Dystopia, YA
Where I Got It: Downloaded it from the library to my Kindle
Why I Read It: I’ve been seeing this book mentioned around the blogosphere for a few years and, once again, I got sucked in by the premise of a cool-sounding dystopia
My Rating: 4 stars
Thomas, a teenager with almost no memory of his past, wakes up on day in a dark elevator that lets him out in a strange world called the Glade. Populated only by other teenage boys, the Glade is a self-sufficient community (with farming and livestock) that is enclosed within gigantic walls that close each night. During the day, the walls open to reveal what seems to be an endless maze, patrolled by deadly creatures called Grievers. Understandably, Thomas is confused and confounded by this new world he finds himself in. As he tries to find out what is happening, he discovers that some of the Gladers have been there for two years, with a new boy arriving each month. But the day after Thomas arrives, something unprecedented happens—a teenage girl who appears to be dead arrives in the elevator clutching a note in her hands that says “This is the last one.” Soon after her arrival, things begin to change, and the Gladers must fight for their lives and discover the secrets of the maze before it is too late.
In some ways, it seems like the terms “YA” and “Dystopia” are becoming synonymous. And, even though I often struggle with YA books, I keep finding myself getting sucked into dystopic trilogies. Starting with The Hunger Games and moving to the Chaos Walking trilogy, I can’t seem to quit these types of books for some reason. I just find the premises so intriguing, and I have to find out what happens next.
This series was no exception. Once again, we have our YA hero up against bizarre challenges that are often deadly. As in The Hunger Games, kids die—often in grotesque and disturbing ways. Unlike The Hunger Games, the kids don’t kill each other (mostly), but must work together to survive, figure out how to escape the maze and discover what is going on in their strange new reality. Dashner does a good job of providing enough “clues” and hints about what might be going on to keep the reader intrigued, and he keeps the chapters short and moving along. Almost every chapter ends with a mini-cliffhanger.
As in most YA books, the language is kept relatively simple and with a focus on the action. To keep things “clean” for a younger audience, Dashner has the Gladers adopt their own slang in place of curse words, calling each other “shuck faces” and “klunks.” For the most part, it seems to work, even though I kept substituting the obvious curse word on my own. (I guess I’m a little jaded).
Still, when I reached the end of the first book, I knew I was going to have to continue on with the second book, The Scorch Trials. Apparently, I am a dystopic-loving teen deep in my heart as I can’t seem to quit these types of books. (My reviews for the second and third books will be posted over the next two days. If you keep reading them, you can see my opinions about this series deteriorate until I end up basically hating on James Dashner.)
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