The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, has a touch of the Lord of the Flies about it. Boys stranded together in a terrifying, strange place; dystopian fiction; death, disorder and a tyrannical leader. But hey, it worked for William Golding and based off the film adaptation, it looks as though it’s working for Dashner as well.

Thomas arrives in the Glade with no knowledge of his past, his family or even his last name. The Glade – which is filled with a large group of teenage boys who have made the farm-like area their home – is surrounded by a gigantic maze – a maze that appears to have no exit and is filled with terrifying half-animal, half-machine creatures. Despite lacking a memory, Thomas feels as though he has been in the maze before, and that becoming a Maze Runner is to be his destiny. Then, when a new person arrives, and for the very first time it’s a girl, Thomas realises that there’s more to the maze than any of them initially thought.

Straight up, I knew the ending to this book because someone had seen the movie and told me about it. As a result, that took away the fun and intrigue of it slightly, but nevertheless it was still an entertaining read – and though I don’t want to give it away, the ending is definitely one of the best bits, with its touch of ‘I am an evil mastermind’.

However, despite its popularity, it is clear that Dashner’s target audience for The Maze Runner was young teenage boys – a category that I most definitely do not fit into. The writing is simple, and while there are descriptions, they are largely of places rather than descriptions of the people around Thomas – or that of Thomas himself for that matter. Dashner does little to explore the emotions that Thomas is feeling, instead he chooses to simply tell the audience when Thomas is feeling frustrated, determined or angry – rarely does he show a softer side to Thomas’s personality. And though I have to give him points for trying, the romance between Thomas and Teresa is laughably bad: no emotions, chemistry or really much to go on.

Young adult dystopian fiction is certainly having a craze at the moment, although believe it or not, Dashner is the first male author to have his series turned into a successful film franchise. I say believe it or not because unfortunately, published authors are frequently male, unless its chick lit – a dreaded category that female writers are so frequently pigeon-holed into. And so while I would say that books such as The Hunger Games are more sophisticated in my opinion than The Maze Runner, I have to give Dashner credit for creating a successful series that has enticed teenage boys to read – a surprisingly difficult task.

If you like action, a fast plot and a cliffhanger ending, then The Maze Runner is for you, and you shouldn’t be deterred by the Young Adult label. While it doesn’t address bigger issues that books like Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games do, it is still a fun, fast-paced read.

Have you read The Maze Runner or any other books by James Dashner? Are you a fan of Young Adult novels or dystopian fiction? Let me know!

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