Just like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they've closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.
Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up - the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.
Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.
©2009 James Dashner; (P)2009 Listening Library
Re Audible: I rate A-F based on 10-pt scale (e.g. 90-100 = A = *****). I try not to be too soft on ratings, or needlessly give F's.
As a stand-alone book, I'll give this one 3 stars (good but not great), but the series as a whole is another matter. I got through the first book and thought "yeah, it's ok. I'll move on to the second." BIG BIG mistake. Now I want the whole 9+ hours of my life refunded! I'd like to tell the author that you only get to cycle the same storyline once (maybe twice in the case of the Hunger Games quarter quell), but try to do the same redundant thing THREE TIMES, and you owe your readers (listeners) that time wasted.
Nope. Because, then you'll be compelled to check out the second. That's when you'll get disappointed.
Despite lamenting purchasing the books in the long run, I thought Mark Deakins gave a very nice performance with good range, nice transitions between dialect and narration, and well-executed changes in voice tone and accent for different characters.
It started out a little slow. Thomas was confused, the gladers were confused, I was confused. A lot of questions that no one would answer -- and that was a little frustrating. However, once the clues started to emerge and Thomas began getting bits and pieces of his memory back, my curiosity was on fire. I had a hard time putting my MP3 player down. I went everywhere with it, listening to the Maze Runner, hoping the mystery would reveal itself. These poor kids never got a break. That means I never got a break. And when it was all over, I was exhausted. That is the sign of a successful storyline. I immediately downloaded the Scorch Trials. I hope there's a 3rd book soon.
Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.
None of these books are self contained. You have to read all three to figure out what is going on. Do you remember that game from teenage slumber parties where one person starts the story and when timer goes off another takes over and each tries to out do the other and it twists and turns and is seldom satisfying? Yep.
So I felt like these are the rules the slumber party storytellers worked with on this book:
Given 50 teenage boys with no memory of their past and place them in a "Hunger Games" type environment.
1) What is the worse that could happen? For sure that will happen. 2) Choose someone to die and then tell how you feel about it - make the hero do it too. 3) What is the stupidest choice - take it. 4) Imagine a monster or zombie creature a 5th grade boy would sketch and turn it loose. 5) Use "I'm going to count to ____ and then I am going to ______ ." 6) You are going to be knocked out using _____, (its OK if you use poison food a lot cause we never learn from experiance). 7) Make sure you use lots of our secret swear words so moms won't ban this book 8) Have a chase or escape scene using ______ 9) Have a battle using _____ for weapons. 10) Change the location from one extreme to another. 11) Blood, gore, amputations, running over people, stabbing, assisted suicide... yep that is the start.
Then Go back to number 1 and repeat over and over and over...
So the first book had a lot of potential and if it had a closure point I would have liked it... but by the end I couldn't stand the series... and I loved Hunger Games.
I listened to this book on a long car trip with my wife and two kids (boy 12 and girl 10). We felt the story started quickly enough, and within 30 minutes all of us were into it (except my wife --- more on that later). There were parts of the story that were too intense for my daughter, who asked us to turn it off a couple of times because she was getting scared. She is a very mature 10 year old, so I would say 10 is the absolute low end of ages for which this book might be appropriate. In retrospect, I wish I had picked another book for her.
The performance was good. The reading was lively enough to keep us interested for a long book. His voices for the characters were also nice, except that his voice for the one female character sounded more like baby talk than a 16 year old girl. Additionally, sometimes the perfomer's voice didn't match the excitement in the story. Overall, though, the performance didn't detract from the book.
While overall we liked this book very much, parts of the book seemed to drag on without advancing the plot quite enough, and the ending was not quite up to the same quality as the rest of the book. Except for that, it would've been 5 stars.
As an aside, my wife didn't listen to the first 2.5 hours of the book. After a 2 minute catch up from my son, she was able to jump right in to the book after that time without really missing anything.
Being 38 years old, I'm not exactly the author's primary target audience, nonetheless, I found this book a very fun listen. I found myself sitting in my car for quite some time just to hear a bit more before having to go into work or into a store. The story flows well, without any real dragging portions. I did find myself predicting the story line a tad bit on several occasions, but Dashner usually threw in a bit of a twist that kept me on the edge of my seat. This is definitely a book that will have you coming back for part two when it is released.
This is definitely an older young adult book, theres quite a bit of violence, death, etc. The violence is mostly heroic though, not senseless - except in one situation where one of the bad guys commits an outright murder. It reminds me somewhat of the Animorphs books I read as a kid, they also had an incredible amount of violence, and the protagonists were even younger than in this book, but it (and this) didn't glorify the violence at all - it was just a tragic necessity.
As to the plot, it looks promising. About half way through I decided the best way to describe it was "Like Ender's Game on a bad LSD trip." It also has a bit of a "Lord of the Flies" feel to it however. There are a few things that are somewhat dissatisfying, but not terribly so. I did get a little frustrated by how nobody seems to want to answer any of the main character's questions (he has to pry every scrap of information from them) - but on reflection this does strike me as how a clique-ish group of kids would act towards a newcomer.
Give it a read, and if you are buying it for a kid read it through yourself first if your worried about the violence (also, the violence is the only thing that might not be age-appropriate).
Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!
Young Thomas wakes up in a strange world populated only by boys, with no memory whatsoever of his former life. The boys all give him a hard time for being the newest arrival, and don't seem inclined to help him figure out where he is or how things work in this alien place. Their small community is protected inside an enclave, where they farm and keep the place ship-shape, but outside the gigantic walls which open at dawn and close with dusk, is a great maze filled with danger and gruesome beasts which are half machine and half living creatures. A band of boys called The Runners have the dangerous mission of daily exploring the giant maze and trying to find exit points. But the maze changes every day and after several years, and the monthly arrival of a new boy, nobody has found a solution to set them free, and they still have no idea what they're doing there. Thomas is convinced he must join the Runners as he thinks he'll find the clues they need; one of the boys swears he's seen Thomas before and treats him with contempt and suspicion, though Thomas has no idea why; is it possible he's already been here before his memory was erased?
The premise was exciting and there were great story elements here, but somehow, not much was going on and it seemed stretched quite thin, and some of the writing was so bad I kept wincing and rewinding to make sure I'd heard right. This is the first book in a series, but it stops here for me.
I'm an avid reader and listener of fantasy, sci fi, and anything else that is well written.
I was an "exceptionally intelligent" teenager. I imagine my teenage self reading this novel and being grouped in with the characters in this story. I think I would have been horribly insulted. The author must think that all kids are idiots. Yes, teenagers make bad decisions. But they are capable of learning from their mistakes, and figuring out puzzles without someone having to spell it out for them in great detail. He says these kids are smart, but they can't solve problems that kids half their age could easily tackle, if they were "exceptionally intelligent."
Add on top of that a terribly annoying overuse of made up swear words (I shucking hated that clunk so much that it made me want to go kiss a griever, dude!), a dull protagonist that was basically unsympathetic for most of the novel, teenage kids that frequently act more like 8 year-olds, characters that inexplicably blame each other for things entirely outside their control, change their minds frequently and radically within a single scene, and just generally don't act like real people, and a series of horrifying violent events that the characters only seem to care about for moments, and you have an extremely frustrating novel.
I forced myself to listen to the end (after all, I spent a credit, right, and surely the author was going to make sense of it all in the conclusion, or at least have the protagonist progress in some way), but I certainly won't waste my time or credits on the sequel.
Well, I love the ideas in this story, but sometimes I think the author just doesn't trust young readers to come to reasonable conclusions, so he has to spell it out. And I mean really spell it out. The ideas were good enough for me to get past the narrative when it got really bad. Unfortunately for me, I like the ideas enough to probably read the second book as well. But maybe I will get it from the library instead of buying it this time around.
the young-adult-ness of the writing is pretty painfully obvious and really served to distract me from the narrative. It seems the intended audience is more 11-13 rather than teens, per se.(and yeah, I'm 36 but have loved YA in the past, see below) At first I thought it was just the narrator's fault for sounding so didactic, but I eventually came around to the fact that it's also the prose. "there were so many secrets. they all had secrets. I wanted to ask all the secrets, to know their answers, but no one was talking" this is (bad paraphrase, but I heard this sentiment repeated 15 times in the first part of the book. I really wanted this to take me where "Hunger Games" did. and it really didn't.
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