I love novels written for middle-schoolers. I especially love novels for middle-schoolers when they have deep themes, thought-provoking elements, and are still appropriate for the age range.
The Maze Runner has deep themes. It has thought-provoking elements. And it is appropriate for middle-schoolers.
Unfortunately, I still have very mixed feelings about this book.
James Dashner has created an incredibly compelling and fascinating world in the Maze- a freak arena crawling with questions and monsters, inhabited by a group of teenage boys constantly teetering on the brink of despair. However, the world outside of the Maze, and the reason for the Maze, are both so silly it is nearly impossible to suspend my disbelief. Perhaps the world and the reason are not any sillier than an all-powerful Capitol that has forced teens to fight to the death for 75 years surviving with no real repercussions. But, since both the world and the reason for the Maze are introduced at the END of a novel that had theretofore been fairly realistic and interesting, it felt ridiculous.
The characters themselves were, all of them, shallow and bland. The story would have been much more poignant and interesting had the characters possessed depth. The two characters that I felt had the possibility of being deeper- Gally and Minho- were never utilized.
The plot within the Maze was exciting, fast-paced, and quite surprising and clever. However, the climax of the novel was, again, silly, so it tarnished some of the shine the plot would have otherwise had.
All in all, The Maze Runner feels like just another fairly average dystopian. It's a bit disappointing, because the novel had the potential to be truly mind-blowing. It just never utilized that potential.
3 out of 5 stars.