Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Maze Runner Trilogy James Dashner

Readers, meet The Maze Runner Trilogy, another book series you won't be able to put down. Be sure to allot a couple hours a day of couch time for this one. And be prepared to have some strange dreams if you are one who reads before bed.

The Maze Runner is a wonderful science-fiction, mystery, dystopic/post-apocalyptic roller coaster. Right up my alley (maze?). The first book, The Maze Runner, opens with the protagonist, Thomas, inside a box, with no memory of anything other than his name. The box rises like an elevator and a group of boys pulls him out and lifts him to The Glade, where the colony of boys has been living for the past two years After asking numerous questions and getting answers to few, Thomas discovers that the boys don't know much more about their predicament than he does and their memories are just as absent. The only thing these boys know is how to survive The Glade- and that they have to find a way out- a feat that would be easy considering it's all they have to do. But it's not that easy. Outside The Glade lays a maze with moving walls which harbor strange, part-blubber, part-mechanical and fully deadly creatures. As far as they can tell, there is no hope for escape.

If anyone has watched LOST, you know of feeling of being completely in the dark about what is going on, yet getting just enough details to keep you wanting to turn the pages to find out more. The Maze Runner does just that. When Dashner does shed light on all of the seemingly impossible things that are happening, he does so in such a wonderfully scientific way that it all seems just a bit plausible.

Though the protagonist is a 16 year-old boy, the books are actually much darker than some young adult books I've read. They get rather gruesome at times, and there are a lot of implications about how far a group of people should go in making individuals suffer for the good of society. Dashner is clearly trying to convey a message that we can't do whatever we want to people even if it will help us in the long run. It seems that he is saying that in some cases, the ends don't necessarily justify the means.

One of the things I really love about this series is that it is SO opposite of The Lord of the Flies (not that I didn't love that). Dashner must have a lot of faith in teenagers, and I'm glad he does. When these kids are left to their own devices, instead of becoming corrupt and killing each other, they create a full-functioning society with order and justice and diplomacy and a system for doing things. They're smart. They think things through and problem solve. They're kids you could be proud of.

I would recommend- no- HAVE recommended- this series to high school students (and they've loved it!). There is enough action to keep them interested, and I would hope that they could see the layers of this series and consider the message it may be giving. It has something for girls and boys. Action, love, friendship, loyalty, fighting, technology, you name it.

The rating I'm giving this series reflects my feelings on it as a whole. It was riveting. I couldn't put it down. But now that I've stepped back, there are some things that bothered me about the third book and the way it ended- but I won't get too much into that. Overall, I think these books are great for young adults- especially anyone who has read The Hunger Games. Instead of a Katniss, we have a Thomas, and the message is quite different- but it's just as dark and enthralling.

5 Stars

Teacher Advisories
Violence 3/5
There is a lot of it, and the killing seems so unnecessary, especially since kids are the ones being killed. The kids themselves, though, are the ones who are admirable and NOT doing the killing. The adults are the ones to blame for everything here.
Sex 0/5
Flirting, relationships, love: yes. Sex: no. It may be implied at the very end, but not enough that it would affect the rating.
Language 0/5
One of the things I loved about this book was the inventiveness of the kids. They have invented their whole language of slang and curse words, but they are words that don't mean anything to us. i.e "What the klunk," and "You shanker"
Substance Abuse 0/5
There is ONE scene where people drink quite a bit. And there is a drug that doesn't exist to us now that people are abusing. Not enough for me to give it a 1.

Touchy Subjects

A big question with these books is whether people should sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Even while reading the book, it's difficult to decide what is right and what the main characters should do.
Mercy Killing
This issue comes up once and it's not a major part of the book, but still a touchy subject for many
These kids all have lost their families for one reason or another.

How I would use it in the classroom:
1. Independent Read Option

1 comment:

  1. Read this in high school and loved the first two books. Recommended them to all my friends at the time!


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