When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is empty.
But he's not alone. When the lift's doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as anyone can remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, for just as long, they've closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the Maze after dark.
The Gladers were expecting Thomas's arrival. But the next day, a girl is sent up--the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinved that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might find their way home...wherever that may be. But it's looking more and more as if the Maze is unsolvable.
And something about the girl's arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers--if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.
I was kind of leery of this book at first. I thought it was a new Lord of the Flies (and I don't care if that is a classic, I hate it). But as I kept reading, the mind games and mysteries slowly won me over. So even though the Grievers were all kinds of nasty, and the setting was eerily frightening, I ended up really enjoying The Maze Runner.
Thomas is a fantastic protagonist. Is he good? Is he evil? We don't know, and even better, neither does he. Ditto for Teresa, the mysterious girl who seems to be linked to Thomas in crazy and awesome ways. And Minho! And Newt! There were so many great characters.
But ultimately, my favorite thing about Dashner's dystopian story is the puzzle of their very existence. How much are they monitored? Why does the maze shift every night? Is there some higher purpose to all of it? And then ending! Crazy! And then the epilogue just went and made the mind games five times more insane.
I can't wait to read its sequel, The Scorch Trials, which will continue the horrific and engrossing story of Thomas and his fellow Gladers.
Four out of five code words.
Release Date: October 2009
Reading Level: Grade 6+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: LINCOLN
Don't believe me? Check out these reviews of The Maze Runner:
Guys Lit Wire
The Spotted Mushroom