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Imagine waking up one day in total darkness, unsure of where you are and unable to remember anything about yourself except your first name. You're in a bizarre place devoid of adults called the Glade. The Glade is an enclosed structure with a jail, a graveyard, a slaughterhouse, living quarters, and gardens. And no way out. Outside the Glade is the Maze, and every day some of the kids -- the Runners -- venture into the labyrinth, trying to map the ever-changing pattern of walls in an attempt to find an exit from this hellish place. So far, no one has figured it out. And not all of the Runners return from their daily exertions, victims of the maniacal Grievers, part animal, part mechanical killing machines.
Thomas is the newest arrival to the Glade in this Truman-meets-Lord of the Flies tale. A motley crew of half a dozen kids is all he has to guide him in this strange world. As soon as he arrives, unusual things begin to happen, and the others grow suspicious of him. Though the Maze seems somehow familiar to Thomas, he's unable to make sense of the place, despite his extraordinary abilities as a Runner. What is this place, and
does Thomas hold the key to finding a way out?
In The Maze Runner, Dashner has crafted a creative and engaging novel that's both mysterious and thought provoking.
(Holiday 2009 Selection)
Dashner (the 13th Reality series) offers up a dark and gripping tale of survival set in a world where teenagers fight for their lives on a daily basis. It starts when Thomas, a teenage amnesiac, wakes up in the Glade, a fragile oasis in the middle of an enormous maze. Here, a group of teenage boys eke out a hazardous existence, exploring the Maze by day and retreating to the Glade at night. No one knows how they got there; no one has ever found a way out (“Old life's over, new life's begun. Learn the rules quick,” the group's leader tells Thomas). Bizarre technological monsters called Grievers patrol the Maze's corridors, almost certain death for any who encounter them. Thomas struggles to regain his memories, but the arrival of a young woman with an ominous message changes the rules of the game. With a fast-paced narrative steadily answering the myriad questions that arise and an ever-increasing air of tension, Dashner's suspenseful adventure will keep readers guessing until the very end, which paves the way for the inevitable continuation. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
VOYA - Susan Hampe
Thomas wakes up in a box with no memory of who he is or where he comes from beyond his name. When the doors open, he is tossed into the disorienting world of the glade, a place built by the mysterious Creators with unknown intentions, where survival and escape are the goal and no one can remember how they got there. Surrounding the glade is the maze, into which runners race everyday searching for an exit, and where horrible creatures called grievers roam to hunt the boys. As he learns the ropes of life in the glade, Thomas finds himself drawn toward the maze and being a runner, while he tries to remember anything he can about his past, certain that the answers are locked away in his head. When a girl arrives in the glade, everything changes and a desperate end game begins for everyone. Dashner creates a dangerously captivating world filled with riveting action and suspense, leaving the reader anxious for more. Thrilling twists and turns make this superb plot even better as it moves at a steady but enticing pace. The various clues hidden in the maze and glade will pique readers' curiosity as they search alongside the characters for the answers to the many questions of the glade. The dynamic characters Dashner creates round off this incredible story, making it as bright as the trilogy it has begun. Reviewer: Susan Hampe
School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—Thomas wakes up in an elevator, remembering nothing but his own name. He emerges into a world of about 60 teen boys who have learned to survive in a completely enclosed environment, subsisting on their own agriculture and supplies from below. A new boy arrives every 30 days. The original group has been in "the glade" for two years, trying to find a way to escape through a maze that surrounds their living space. They have begun to give up hope. Then a comatose girl arrives with a strange note, and their world begins to change. There are some great, fast-paced action scenes, particularly those involving the nightmarish Grievers who plague the boys. Thomas is a likable protagonist who uses the information available to him and his relationships (including his ties to the girl, Teresa) to lead the Gladers. Unfortunately, the question of whether the teens will escape the maze is answered 30 pages before the book ends, and the intervening chapter loses momentum. The epilogue, which would be deliciously creepy coming immediately after the plot resolves, fails to pack a punch as a result. That said, The Maze Runner has a great hook, and fans of dystopian literature, particularly older fans of Jeanne DuPrau's The City of Ember (Random, 2003), will likely enjoy this title and ask for the inevitable sequel.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH
Boys come to the Glade via an empty freight elevator with no memory of how they got there or of their prior lives. This disorientation is made more frightening when they realize that to survive they must lock themselves in every night to avoid the horrors of the Grievers, beings that are part machine, part animal-and altogether deadly. The boys in the Glade send out Runners each day to find a way out through the Maze that surrounds their one patch of safety, with no success. Life goes on until one day the elevator delivers a girl. She brings a message: She is the last child to be sent, and there will be no more deliveries of food or supplies. Now the Glade is cut off, and as the Grievers gather for an all-out attack it's clear that it's now or never-the Maze must be solved. Dashner knows how to spin a tale and make the unbelievable realistic. Hard to put down, this is clearly just a first installment, and it will leave readers dying to find out what comes next. (Science fiction. 12 & up)
From the Publisher
Praise for the Maze Runner series:
A #1 New York Times Bestselling Series
A USA Today Bestseller
A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year
An ALA-YASLA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book
An ALA-YALSA Quick Pick
"[A] mysterious survival saga that passionate fans describe as a fusion of Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, and Lost."—EW.com
“Wonderful action writing—fast-paced…but smart and well observed.”—Newsday
“[A] nail-biting must-read.”—Seventeen.com
“Breathless, cinematic action.”—Publishers Weekly
“Heart pounding to the very last moment.”—Kirkus Reviews
[STAR] “James Dashner’s illuminating prequel [The Kill Order] will thrill fans of this Maze Runner [series] and prove just as exciting for readers new to the series.”—Shelf Awareness, Starred
"Take a deep breath before you start any James Dashner book."-Deseret News
Children's Literature - Brandon West
Welcome to the Glade, a homestead for boys who no longer have memories of their former lives, that happens to be inconveniently located in the center of a giant and deadly maze. Sixteen-year-old Thomas awakens with no memory of who he is or why he ended up in this Glade. As Thomas orients to his new survivalist lifestyle, he learns that the key to escaping might be to solve the maze. The only problem is that the maze is guarded by Grievers, techno-organic beasts with a hunger for human flesh. Thomas breaks the rules of the boys’ society by running into the maze and surviving. He quickly becomes lauded by some for this ability to navigate the maze and chastised by others, most notably by his rival Gally. One day, Teresa, the first and only female inhabitant, is delivered to the Glade with a message that she is the last person who will be joining them and that food supplies are no longer going to be sent. Along with this news, Grievers begin congregating for a full scale attack on the Glade. Without any other options, the inhabitants of the Glade only hope is to solve the maze. The Maze Runner was originally published in 2006 and is Dashner’s first entry into his science fiction, post-apocalyptic trilogy. This particular title has lauded much praise since its original debut and is now a major motion picture film. This edition of the book pays homage to the film by sporting a new dust jacket and features eight pages of full-color photos from the movie. This book stands the test of time and will continue to interest teens who enjoy dystopian fiction, making it a worthwhile addition to book collections. Reviewer: Brandon West; Ages 12 up.
Read an Excerpt
He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.
Metal ground against metal; a lurching shudder shook the floor beneath him. He fell down at the sudden movement and shuffled backward on his hands and feet, drops of sweat beading on his forehead despite the cool air. His back struck a hard metal wall; he slid along it until he hit the corner of the room. Sinking to the floor, he pulled his legs up tight against his body, hoping his eyes would soon adjust to the darkness.
With another jolt, the room jerked upward like an old lift in a mine shaft.
Harsh sounds of chains and pulleys, like the workings of an ancient steel factory, echoed through the room, bouncing off the walls with a hollow, tinny whine. The lightless elevator swayed back and forth as it ascended, turning the boy's stomach sour with nausea; a smell like burnt oil invaded his senses, making him feel worse. He wanted to cry, but no tears came; he could only sit there, alone, waiting.
My name is Thomas, he thought.
That... that was the only thing he could remember about his life.
He didn't understand how this could be possible. His mind functioned without flaw, trying to calculate his surroundings and predicament. Knowledge flooded his thoughts, facts and images, memories and details of the world and how it works. He pictured snow on trees, running down a leaf-strewn road, eating a hamburger, the moon casting a pale glow on a grassy meadow, swimming in a lake, a busy city square with hundreds of people bustling about their business.
And yet he didn't know where he came from, or how he'd gotten inside the dark lift, or who his parents were. He didn't even know his last name. Images of people flashed across his mind, but there was no recognition, their faces replaced with haunted smears of color. He couldn't think of one person he knew, or recall a single conversation.
The room continued its ascent, swaying; Thomas grew immune to the ceaseless rattling of the chains that pulled him upward. A long time passed. Minutes stretched into hours, although it was impossible to know for sure because every second seemed an eternity. No. He was smarter than that. Trusting his instincts, he knew he'd been moving for roughly half an hour.
Strangely enough, he felt his fear whisked away like a swarm of gnats caught in the wind, replaced by an intense curiosity. He wanted to know where he was and what was happening.
With a groan and then a clonk, the rising room halted; the sudden change jolted Thomas from his huddled position and threw him across the hard floor. As he scrambled to his feet, he felt the room sway less and less until it finally stilled. Everything fell silent.
A minute passed. Two. He looked in every direction but saw only darkness; he felt along the walls again, searching for a way out. But there was nothing, only the cool metal. He groaned in frustration; his echo amplified through the air, like the haunted moan of death. It faded, and silence returned. He screamed, called for help, pounded on the walls with his fists.
Thomas backed into the corner once again, folded his arms and shivered, and the fear returned. He felt a worrying shudder in his chest, as if his heart wanted to escape, to flee his body.
"Someone... help... me!" he screamed; each word ripped his throat raw.
A loud clank rang out above him and he sucked in a startled breath as he looked up. A straight line of light appeared across the ceiling of the room, and Thomas watched as it expanded. A heavy grating sound revealed double sliding doors being forced open. After so long in darkness, the light stabbed his eyes; he looked away, covering his face with both hands.
He heard noises above--voices--and fear squeezed his chest.
"Look at that shank."
"How old is he?"
"Looks like a klunk in a T-shirt."
"You're the klunk, shuck-face."
"Dude, it smells like feet down there!"
"Hope you enjoyed the one-way trip, Greenie."
"Ain't no ticket back, bro."
Thomas was hit with a wave of confusion, blistered with panic. The voices were odd, tinged with echo; some of the words were completely foreign--others felt familiar. He willed his eyes to adjust as he squinted toward the light and those speaking. At first he could see only shifting shadows, but they soon turned into the shapes of bodies--people bending over the hole in the ceiling, looking down at him, pointing.
And then, as if the lens of a camera had sharpened its focus, the faces cleared. They were boys, all of them--some young, some older. Thomas didn't know what he'd expected, but seeing those faces puzzled him. They were just teenagers. Kids. Some of his fear melted away, but not enough to calm his racing heart.
Someone lowered a rope from above, the end of it tied into a big loop. Thomas hesitated, then stepped into it with his right foot and clutched the rope as he was yanked toward the sky. Hands reached down, lots of hands, grabbing him by his clothes, pulling him up. The world seemed to spin, a swirling mist of faces and color and light. A storm of emotions wrenched his gut, twisted and pulled; he wanted to scream, cry, throw up. The chorus of voices had grown silent, but someone spoke as they yanked him over the sharp edge of the dark box. And Thomas knew he'd never forget the words.
"Nice to meet ya, shank," the boy said. "Welcome to the Glade."
From the Hardcover edition.