Book Review: The Maze Runner – James Dashner
My wife read The Maze Runner by James Dashner a few weeks before I did, and told me I would really like it. She said it was right up my alley. The writing style was very similar to mine, and that it was similar to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which I loved.
But before I started to read it, I mentioned I was going to read it to one of the people in my writing group. They got a very disappointed look on their face, and basically told me not to set my expectations too high, and that some parts of the book were very annoying. So it was with a little hope and a little trepidation that I read this book this week.
My reaction upon completing it? I leaned strongly towards the disappointed. The concept was great, and unique, and interesting. A group of boys is placed into a mysterious area called the Maze, which seems to have no solution, and has deadly consequences for those who are not careful while exploring. Where they are, why they have been put there, and what the maze is, is the mystery the boys must resolve. It’s a little bit Hunger Games, a little bit Lord of the Flies, and a little bit The Running Man. All books I liked, and a good idea.
The writing… well, didn’t hold up to the idea. First off, boys being boys, they swear a lot. But instead of using known swear words, the boys have invented their own words, as if the author was afraid of getting banned from school libraries for using shit, fuck and damn. Fine, then don’t use them, or only use them once in a while. Don’t invent new ones, and use them so frequently. This was one of the things my writing critique friend mentioned to me, and I 100% agree.
Second, the rest of the dialog was as if two people were speaking it – a transcription of how people would say things – but not how it would read well. And it was all written with the same voice. You couldn’t tell who was talking by what they were saying. Which was probably okay, since the characters weren’t all that different from each other. Sure there were different characters, good ones, bad ones, whiners and heroes, but they all seemed to blend together, and it didn’t really matter who was saying what.
By the end of the book, I was pretty frustrated with it, and honestly, I think I only skimmed the last couple of chapters. They were clearly setup for the next book, and I have no plans to read it.
I’m always reluctant to post negative reviews of books because I figure sooner or later, they will come back around to bite me. Karma and all that. Someday, I hope to have a book published, and undoubtedly there will be bad reviews as well. But if I’m all ‘glowy’ about every book I read, then I’m not being honest. And my OCD prevents me from not reviewing the books. So in cases like this, I hope the honesty is appreciated if the writer ever comes across this review, and they use it to inspire themselves to improve their craft. That’s what I’m going to tell myself when I read a negative review of my stuff. After I finish crying in my beer.