The story begins with Thomas, a young adult, waking up in an elevator, throat sore and dry, mind blank. All he can remember about himself is his name. The elevator opens from above and Thomas hears boys talking… speaking words he doesn’t understand.
He is in the Glade with about 60 other boys who all arrived the same way, via elevator, 30 days apart over the past two years. The boys live together, work together, survive together.
Outside the Glade is the Maze, a labyrinth of sky-high walls wrapped in ivy and inhabited at night by Grievers, monsterous bio-mechanical creatures that hunt and kill the Gladers.
The Gladers are certain solving the riddle of the Maze, whose walls shift every night while the boys are locked in the Glade, holds the key to their escape. Though food and supplies arrive via the elevator, they long for freedom. But is the world they were taken from worse than the one holding them now? And why were they put in the Glade, memories wiped, in the first place.
Then a girl is sent up via the elevator with a message. Everything is about to change and the boys must escape the Maze.
There are many elements to this story that will appeal to middle school teens: adventure, action, fights to the death. The plot is complex while remaining easy to read which will appeal to high-low readers.
But I grew impatient with the pacing. Very impatient. I actually began yelling at the reader, who was rather good. Insipid! Intolerable! I’ve never felt so impatient with a book!
After a few days reflection, I calmed and recognized my problem. I dislike when characters seem to be motivated without reason. With (apparently) no memory of his life before waking in the lift, Thomas was often compelled by a feeling to act. Even at the end, he/we don’t know anything really. It was infuriating.
Characters also withheld information unneccesarily, just to spite Thomas or drag the whole story out. Again and again, he was ignored or excluded yet somehow, he becomes the hero. I just didn’t buy it.
But will this have a lot of teen appeal? I imagine it already has a following. Read about a possible movie deal at the LA Times. While I really enjoyed Dashner’s 13th Reality series, this one just wasn’t for me.