Fairly good premise for a dystopian YA novel. A group of teenage boys in a dangerous world full of creatures called Grievers that kill anyone who is caught outside of the boys’ home base (“The Glade”) after the immense walls close up at night. Each kid is given a different job in the Glade (gardening, cooking, cleaning, etc.) or end up being a “runner”–kids who spend their days running through a huge maze outside the walls of their compound looking for an escape route. There are no adults present, but order is kept by a council of older boys and a strict code that everyone must follow. This is no Lord of the Flies, although their punishments can be very harsh (banishment).
They regularly receive supplies shipped to them from an unknown entity which they call their “Creator”. The shipments may contain clothing, food, medicine, etc. Sometimes they also contain a new teenager, one who is frightened, confused, and who has no memory of where they came from, who they are, or why they have been sent there. After the last two teens, Thomas and Teresa–the only girl–arrive, they learn quickly that their time is running out. They have to defeat the Grievers (and their Creator) and find a way out.
This is geared for kids 12 and up. One issue I have with this story is that they have tweaked their vocabulary to some extent, usually just replacing curse words with milder terms. The kids don’t ever really swear, but they are constantly calling each other “klunkhead” or “shuck-face” or saying, “I don’t give a klunk”. They are basically speaking Smurf. It was distracting. I’d rather they just talk like normal teenagers–some will swear, some won’t. It seemed like the author was trying not to be offensive for younger readers but I thought it had the opposite effect. The replacement words were used so often it made me think of the real versions much more than if they just would have said them.
Although this book isn’t perfect, I enjoyed the story and would have loved it when I was in middle- and high school.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
#1 Maze Runner
Audio narrated by Mark Deakins