David’s Letter Essay #9: The Maze Runner

I have recently finished reading the very common piece of dystopian literature, The Maze Runner. Authored by James Dashner, this 375 paged novel is the fourth dystopian fiction book I have read this past year. Dashner is an American writer who primarily writes towards children and young adults. The interest in this series even led to the release of the film in 2014, which expectedly, was highly ranked on the box office. Accomplishments such as the Whitney Award for Best Youth Fiction and #1 New York Times Bestseller have proved the skills of Dashner as an author. The reason I chose to read this book is due to the overwhelming popularity and multiple recommendations. Also, I did not get the chance to read it during our dystopian literature unit. The Maze Runner marks my 34th completed book of the school year. Personally, I am very proud of myself, for reading has always been considered a chore and I would’ve never thought I’d finish as many novels as I did. Although I did not achieve my goal of 40 books, I’m satisfied reading more books this year than any other.

The Maze Runner is told in third person perspective about a sixteen year old boy named Thomas. With no memory existent but his own name, Thomas wakes up in an elevator and as light comes through, along with it are a group of unknown boys that appear to be around his age. Next thing Thomas knows, he is being pulled into a huge glade by the mysterious group. Soon after, he discovers they too share the same amount of memory on past life. Not one person knows where they are, how they got there, or the reason they are there. With no knowledge of the rest of the world, the Glade is run by two particular boys, Alby and Newt. Daily life of surviving and trying to possibly discover an exit to the Maze continue until one strange day, a girl shows up. Teresa. Changes such as the sun’s disappearance begin to occur shortly after her arrival. Afterthought, Thomas discovers that the walls’ movement may be a code of some sort. A code that will lead to their escape. This piece of information is what all of them needed. Hope. But escaping with obstacles such as Grievers in your way, is a game of chance. Read the book to find out the ending!

I found it interesting that the main character of the book, Thomas, doesn’t remember anything about himself besides the fact that his name was Thomas. Typically in books, the protagonist is the most detailed character and every reader knows who they truly are. This is not however the case in The Maze Runner and I found that very unique. I was surprised when the first girl showed up in The Graze, Teresa. Before that page, readers had been informed on how only males were ever sent in and made me convince myself that this wasn’t going to change. If I were the author I would have provided better clarity to how the maze works in general. I felt that throughout the book I could never paint a clear description of how The Graze would look.

The quoted passage I chose, in my opinion one of the more interesting, was the night that Newt takes Thomas to see the Grievers.

“Thomas is jostled awake the next morning by Newt. Everyone else is still asleep, but Newt tells Thomas that he has to show him something before everyone else is up. Thomas follows Newt, tiptoeing amongst the other sleeping boys. Newt leads him to the courtyard and breaks out into a run. Thomas follows, running as well, unsure if he can trust Newt or not but knowing he has little choice. Newt leads Thomas to one of the walls and pulls back the vines that grow on it, revealing a small window.

Newt tells Thomas that they want to show him why the walls close every night and why he should be glad that he is on this side of them when they do. Thomas can make out something moving outside the window, giving off a strange light. He puts his face to the window and sees a large, bulbous creature about the size of a cow. It is a hideous mix of machine and animal. Its appendages are adorned with instruments like buzz saws and long rods. It charges the window, sending Thomas to the floor. But the window holds. Thomas asks Newt what they are. “Grievers”, he answers.”

The reason I selected this passage over others was not because of its informational aspect but because The Grievers were one of my favorite details of the book and the author introduced them in a strong way. As well as the vivid description which allowed readers to picture the horrifying creatures in their head.

I would give this book a 7 out of 10 because although it was one of the better dystopian novels, in my opinion, it did not reach my expectations in terms of description, plot, and overall quality.

David Cusick

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