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Fly, Icarus

Erin reviews the promising start of a series in The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

Fly, Icarus

BOOK REPORT for The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Book 1) by James Dashner

BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Lord of the Shanks
Bonus Factors: Dystopia
Relationship Status: That Guy I Went On a Blind Date With, And Now I'm Sort of Hoping He'll Call

The Deal:

Thomas arrives to the Glade as all the Gladers have arrived: in an elevator, stripped of his memories, confused and scared. In the Glade, he meets the 45 other Gladers, all boys, all teens, all living in this large square courtyard, surrounded by giant, ivy covered walls. As confused as Thomas is by all this, he quickly learns the rules: that the walls in the Maze beyond the Glade shift every night, that the Creators deliver a new boy once a month, and that you absolutely do not want to be caught out in the Maze after dark.

All of this is strange to Thomas, but what is stranger is the nagging sense that he's been here before, that he knows a way out. That sense is only amplified by the shocking arrival of a new Glader, way ahead of schedule: a girl who announces that everything is about to change.

Can Thomas lead his friends out of the Maze? And is the real world something they even want to get back to?

BFF Charm: Yay!

I admit that in the beginning, I did not want to give Thomas my BFF charm. Dear lord, that boy was annoying! Always asking questions that the Gladers wouldn't bother to answer, sticking his nose into everything, and not doing much to respect the seniority of the older Gladers. Not to mention that he didn't hold a favorable opinion of anybody.

But around the time that Deus ex Teresa shows up, Thomas starts kicking things into gear. He learns how to work with people, he risks his life for his friends, and forms a plan to get out. That's a boy I can get behind.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

When Deus ex Teresa shows up, it's pretty clear that she and Thomas have a connection, from before. It's her knowledge and skills that help Thomas figure out the Maze. Plus, they can talk to each other in their minds, which, second to telekinesis (cause I'm lazy), is the sixth sense I'd most like to have.

So even though there's a connection between the two, and a hint that at some point in their ill-remembered past, they may have, uh, done the deed, there's no actual swoon-worthy moments in the book. I expect that to change in the rest of the trilogy. (Do you hear me, Dashner?)

Talky Talk: Lord of the Shanks

Obviously, a Lord of the Flies comparison is unavoidable - I mean, there are a bunch of manchilds living on their own in a society they have created. But where all of Piggy and his cohorts went around speaking the Queen's English all the damn time (that really bothered me, growing up), Dashner's Gladers have a language of their own. Part American English, part British English, and part made-up words which can range anywhere from amusing (Greenbean) to just gross (klunk). Although I still don't know what a slinthead is.

Bonus Factor: Dystopia

My my, I love myself a good dystopia. And hey, if the Gladers never wanted to leave the Glade, they wouldn't have one. Regular supplies dumps, animals to slaughter, veggies to grow, and a warm and pleasant sun every day seems kind of great. But, of course, they do want to leave, which means trying to find the exit to the Maze, where terrible things called Grievers live. They can consume a boy whole, but for the most part, they just sting. Of course, that's its own set of problems, because when you go through the Changing, you remember things from before. And maybe the Real World isn't worth getting back to . . .

Casting Call:

Logan Lerman as Thomas

Thomas is crazy smart, brave, and not willing to take no for an answer. Plus he's sort of the Savior of the Glade. Who else but Percy Jackson could take this on?

Nathan Kress as Chuck

Chuck is sweet, but sort of annoying. So who better than any member of the cast of iCarly, for whom "sweet but sort of annoying" is their raison d'etre. Also, when Googling an image of Nathan Kress, "Nathan Kress with shirt off" came up as the SECOND drop-down result. THAT IS NOT OKAY.

Nicholas Hoult as Newt

Newt's British (I'm pretty sure, anyway), and if I'm going to watch a movie about teenage boys running and sweating and stuff, then darn it, I'm going to watch Nick Hoult doing it. You've come a long way from About a Boy, baby.

Kaya Scoledario as Teresa

Can I put two Skins castmembers in one movie? Yes, yes I can. (Mostly because I don't watch a lot of tv/movies with teenagers in them.) Plus, Teresa is mysterious, smart, and the subject of much interest around the Glade, and if there's any girl who can weave a magic spell over every single human with whom she comes into contact, it's Effy Mothereffin' Stonem.

Relationship Status: That Guy I Went On a Blind Date With, And Now I'm Sort of Hoping He'll Call

I picked up this book for the sole reason that I wanted to read a book about a boy, for a change. I didn't know anything about it, going into our date, and for a large part of the date, the book just talked about all of this crazy stuff, like adventuring, and conspiracy theories, and references to poop.

"Can't we talk about something I'm interested in," I wondered, as he went on and on about codes and the special connection he had with his ex-girlfriend. Before long, all I wanted was a cupcake and to talk about second wave vs third wave feminism, and the mating habits of non-human primates.

But then my date totally went to crazytown! He was talking about all these awesome ninja skills he had, and how he single-handedly solved the world's largest Rubix cube, and also how he can read my mind and shizz. All of a sudden, I was hooked!

Our date ended rather abruptly, I thought, as we shared a perfunctory kiss on the cheek. But later, I found myself hoping this book would call me again. I don't know if there's really a long-term future there, but I have to admit, I'd like to hear more of his crazy stories.

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.