What Jenny's Reading

{October 15, 2015}   Review: The Maze Runner, Pt. 1

Yes, it’s been almost a month, and I promised Halloween nail art and I haven’t delivered!  I do have some!

I can explain my absence twofold: first, my nails are fucked to all hell.  They’re brittle and flaking and breaking off in awful ways.  I didn’t realize how bad it was till I was looking at some of those old pictures I was using for Throwback Thursdays and saw how nice and strong and cared for my nails were back then.  I don’t really know why they look so freaking awful now, but I’m trying to correct it by changing my polish less often and using some nail strengtheners.  So currently my short crappy nails are painted in what looks like a pale, baby pink (hurk!) because that’s the color of the nail stuff.  I will have some Halloween fun things posted soon, though!

The second reason is this review.  I mentioned awhile back that I’d bought the series and was going to review it.  And let me tell you, it’s been a fucking CHORE to get through the first book.  I’m still not done, but almost.  At this point I’m basically reading because I bought the books on my Nook and I can’t return them, and it’s a waste of money for me to just let them sit there.  But it’s just…I’m really not enjoying them.  And maybe I should just chuck them and pick up something way more interesting and fun, but I’m stubborn like that and I’ll finish these stupid books even if it kills me (I haven’t had a very hard life, who knows what might actually kill me?).

So, with that being said, here’s the first part of the first book of this (so far) rather blah series!

This is a four-part book series that the first book, The Maze Runner, was made into a movie…last year? I think? I barely remember any publicity about it, except that it was being made and the books were supposed to be good. I saw a movie recently and there was a preview for what I assumed originally was The Maze Runner but is actually the second book, The Scorch Trials. It looked interesting, but I’m more interested in why I never heard of the first movie being released but it apparently made enough money for a sequel.

Unlike Hunger Games, I obviously haven’t seen the movies and I know very little about the story. So I’m going in blind.

The story opens with a fantastic example of “tell, don’t show.” Oh, wait. My bad. I mean, it tells us a bunch of stuff rather than really showing it.

Anyway, our hero is named Thomas (me, from the future: “hero”), and he can’t remember anything about himself except his name and probably basic life stuff. He’s trapped in a scary box, blah blah, and ends up in a big courtyard surrounded by other teenage boys. No one’s all that nice to him, which I guess I’m supposed to care about, but really, why would they be?

The group’s leader (don’t know if that’s official or just they all look up to him) is called Alby, and he seems decent enough, but Thomas thinks he’s rude. Then there’s Newt, who is nicer and appears to be some kind of tweaked-out bodybuilder, if the descriptions given are accurate. So Alby’s like the group’s dad, and Newt is their mom, I think. There’s new slang which I don’t understand yet but I’m sure we all will soon enough. I assume this is the author’s “clever” way of both cursing while not cursing and also showing us how dystopia and futuristic this landscape is – ooh, they have different slang than the kids today!

God, that was bitchy. Yeah, we’re off to a great start!

Nobody knows where they came from or really anything about their lives except their first names. Thomas appears to think he’s quite the special snowflake for figuring that out, as if no one else has possibly noticed the connection. He’s also hilariously deflated to find out he’s probably only sixteen, because he feels older. I don’t know if that’s important yet or if it’s just a random aside, so I thought I’d mention it.

Ugh. I know Thomas is our hero, and I know he’s really disoriented and deserves the benefit of the doubt right now, but God, he’s fucking irritating. I just keep thinking “Katniss would never behave this way” and “Harry wouldn’t be such a dick.”

Okay, that’s a lie. Harry probably WOULD be a dick in these circumstances.

Thomas rejects a boy named Chuck’s offer of friendship, because Chuck is new like him and can’t tell him anything about where they are or why they’re there. Nice. He then immediately gets into a fight with a black-haired boy who is likely going to be one of the villains of this piece, so he’s off to a fantastic start at making friends and influencing others.

Important: some boy called Benny is being treated at their makeshift hospital, and the black-haired boy won’t let Thomas go up and see him. Benny yells a lot, and it apparently sounds like he’s dying, but Chuck says he won’t die because he got back in time to be administered the “serum.” Okie dokie. I’m just going to roll with all this for the time being.

Oh, and the black-haired boy also says he’s seen Thomas before but he doesn’t seem to remember where or when, and he’s going to find out why Thomas is in the Glade (what they call the courtyard and living areas). The boy’s name is Gally, and I’m happy now that I can call him that instead of “black-haired boy” because it’s fewer letters. Gally says he’s really the one in charge around there, and lets Thomas go upstairs. Thomas realizes it’s a trap, but goes anyway.

Why yes, this is our intelligent, dynamic hero. I mean, I get they needed to move the plot along, but ugh.

Of course it’s a disaster, and the Benny kid is apparently in terrible, haunting shape, covered in bruises and green veins and so forth. Alby yells at him, and Thomas realizes he’s an idiot, and goes back downstairs to say he’s sorry to Chuck. Chuck’s a nice guy, and the forgiving sort, and says he’ll help him out. They leave the building and sit down in the grass to eat some sandwiches, and we now have irrefutable proof that Thomas is evil: he likes the taste of mayonnaise. I mean, really what the actual fuck, Thomas. The boys chat a bit but really the important takeaway from this is mayonnaise is of the devil, as evidenced by the fact that these guys are eating it with gusto and they appear to be in hell.

I mean, whatever, the walls move and a bunch of weary, mysterious Maze Runners come back through them before that happens, and they’re all stuck in a giant Maze, but really it’s the mayonnaise that’s the most problematic element here.

Thomas and Chuck play a stupid joke on Gally. I don’t get it, maybe because I’m not a teenage boy. Something with the bathroom. Anyway, then the settle down for sleep, and Thomas starts to think maybe he’s been to the Glade before, and also announces he’s going to be a Runner. Chuck thinks he’s nuts. I think Chuck is so far the best person we’ve met.

Alby takes Thomas on his Tour the next day, to learn about the Glade. Alby’s been in the Glade for two years, he says, longer than anyone else, because everyone before him was dead. They haven’t solved the Maze because the walls move and there are scary monsters out there. Then they’re distracted by a new person coming out of the box, from where Thomas came the day before. Everyone’s sort of freaking out and Thomas finds out that usually they only get new people once a month.

The new person is a girl, a very pretty girl who is maybe dead or dying. The boys are very excited by a girl, she’s the first and only one there. I really hope she doesn’t get raped. I mean, I know this is young adult and all and probably that wouldn’t happen, but I still hope it doesn’t. The girl sits up dramatically, says everything’s about to change, and has a note that says she’s the last “one” (person to the Glade, I assume), ever. The plot thickens!

So this seems a good place to say my theory. I think that Thomas chose to go to the Glade. Maybe there are lots of Glades, all over the Maze, or lots of Mazes, and he was at another one and got out somehow. Or maybe he’s connected to the people who run the Maze, or a resistance against the Maze-people. I don’t think he’s gone to this particular Glade before, because no one remembers him, but maybe I’m wrong. Anyway, I think he’s there to start a revolution or something.

I mean, that’s partly because it’s a young adult novel of a dystopian future, so clearly a revolution is going to happen.

Thomas ends up going into a wooded area and finds a bunch of graves. Then he gets attacked by a crazy person, who turns out to be that Benny guy from before, who’d been injured or something. Luckily Alby and others were following him, and Benny ends up dead because he refuses to back off his attack. He’s crazy, but Thomas is worried because he also kept talking about how he’d seen Thomas before, that kind of stuff. Then the next day Thomas meets a Runner, and finds out that this Runner is friendly with Alby. Thomas gets to hear about how the Runner saw a dead “Griever” which is I guess some kind of animal, maybe a robot animal, that can kill them.

You know, I’m on like page 87 and I have no idea what’s going on. More problematically, I’m not entirely sure I care. This story so far reminds of me that television show – what was it called? It came out years and years ago when all that Lost-style mystery stuff was really popular. Maybe about a plane crash? I hardly remember, because I watched like three episodes and there wasn’t even a whisper of the plot moving forward. It was like the creators and writers had one single secret they were going to reveal the whole season, and so they decided to just fill up all the episodes with questions and refused to answer even one of them. Which, okay, if that’s how you want to tell a story, fine. But your characters and ongoing storyline need to be interesting enough to capture everyone’s attention while you’re bumbling your way toward your big reveal. And this show just wasn’t. And that’s how I feel about this book so far. At this point I’m really just reading it because I paid for the series and I can’t return it.

And of course, FINALLY something happens now that I’m almost bored enough to quit reading altogether. So Alby and Minho, the head Runner, don’t come back from looking for the dead Griever. Newt and Thomas stand by the Door, waiting for them, and just as the Doors start closing Thomas sees them. They can’t make it, so Thomas jumps through the opening and is outside in the Maze with them. Minho is all, yeah, we’re dead, and takes off, and Alby is too hurt to do anything. Somehow Thomas constructs a pulley and lever and gets Alby halfway up the wall, and he also dodges Grievers. Minho comes back, and they manage to kill four of the Grievers just as dawn breaks. Shortest night ever. Anyway, one interesting thing: they kill them by forcing them off a cliff, because the Maze does end up on a super tall cliff with no way down. Anyway, so they go back and the Doors open and Alby is given the Serum and saved.

Thomas is made a Runner after this; there’s a Gathering of the Keepers (the leaders of all the different sects of the Glade) and although they want to punish him for breaking a rule (going outside the Maze after dark), most of them also are impressed and want him to be a Runner. So he ends up getting one day in jail and then will train to be a Runner. Of note: Gully is a Keeper and says he’s going to kill Thomas.

We find out that, after getting the Serum, the bodies go through the Changing, and during the Changing they can remember bits and pieces of their old lives. Alby tries to tell Thomas he remembers him, and almost kills himself in the process. Gully also says he remembers Thomas. Newt and Thomas go see the girl (remember her?) and Thomas confirms she seems familiar but he doesn’t remember why. Then the girl starts chatting with him inside his head. Freaky! Her name is Teresa and she says she’s going to forget everything when she wakes up, but tells Thomas that “they” can survive the Trials, and that “they” did this to the kids in the Glade.

Okay, Thomas. I’m finally interested in your story.


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