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The Maze Runner    by James Dashner Amazon.com order for
Maze Runner
by James Dashner
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2010 (2009)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

The only thing Thomas can remember when he arrives at the Glade is his first name. He doesn't know how he got there or where he came from. He awakes in a lift and when the doors open he is faced with more mysteries. When he meets others at the Glade he finds out his story is not unique. No one there knows why he is there or if how he got there.

Every month a new boy is added to the group until the day after Thomas' arrival when the first girl comes out of the lift. Survival is the key to living in the Glade. Every morning the stone doors open to the maze. The Gladers are convinced that if they can conquer the maze they'll find their way home. Thomas thinks if he can find the key to his own mind he'll uncover secrets to lead them.

The answers to the Gladers' questions are given as needed to keep you reading, following the slim threads of information that might solve the puzzle. Mixing science fiction, mystery and suspense, this novel is hard to put down.

2nd Review by Ricki Marking-Camuto (Rating: 3):

It seems that most current major YA dystopian trilogies are aimed at teen girls, so what is available for boys? The answer: James Dashner's Maze Runner trilogy, of which The Maze Runner is the first installment.

Thomas wakes up one day inside an elevator, not remembering anything except his name. When the elevator opens, he finds himself in the Glade, a large, open area surrounded by high walls ... and populated only with boys around his age. Chuck is assigned to help Thomas get his bearings, but Thomas wants more answers than Chuck is able to give especially after he witnesses the walls close up for the night.

The next day when the leader of the Gladers, Alby, explains the different jobs in the Glade, Thomas knows that he is meant to be a runner, one of the boys who travel through the Maze beyond the walls every day, looking for a way out. But before the second days ends, something very strange happens: a girl arrives with a note saying she is to be the last.

The Gladers become suspicious of Thomas, thinking he has something to do with this new arrival, and he cannot say for certain that he does not. When Thomas performs a dumb but heroic act, the Gladers start to side with him or against him, but when the Glade begins to break down, they must work together if they are ever going to solve the Maze.

The beginning was a little slow, as the reader shares Thomas's frustrations as to who he is, where he is, and what exactly is going on. However, after Thomas enters the Maze for the first time, the pace amps up - it becomes a real page-turner and the action never once wanes.

Dashner's dystopian society is close to that of classics of the genre but still offers something wholly new. The Glade is well thought out and the main characters all fully developed. Thomas, especially, is a solid character - readers will immediately empathize with him and keep rooting for him throughout.

The Maze Runner is an excellent start to a series set in a unique dystopian world. And James Dashner has many more challenges in store for this intrepid group of teens boys (and girl) as the trilogy continues.

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