When the lift cranks open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone – an army of boys welcomes him to the Glade, an encampment at the centre of a terrible maze.
The Gladers have no idea why they’re there, or what’s happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything to find out.
*Contains minor spoilers*
I finally got around to reading The Maze Runner, which has been sitting on my shelf for a few years now. This was one of the few occasions where I had already seen the film adaptation before reading the book, so it was a very different reading experience for me. I thought that because I already knew the ending it might not be a very gripping read, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Maze Runner hooked me from the very beginning and seeing the film beforehand helped me visualise the setting and characters better right from the start.
The book began in a similar way to the film, the main characters easily identifiable by their descriptions and style of speech. But it soon became apparent that there were significant differences. The hideous monsters known as ‘Grievers’ were shown to be spider-like robots in the film, but in the book, they are described as resembling slugs with bulbous, slimy bodies that move by rolling and shoot out mechanical appendages like spears and needles. The book also features little robots with cameras called ‘Beetle Blades’ that spy on the Gladers and create more of a tense atmosphere.
The plot of the film is simpler and more rushed due to time constraints, whereas the book takes time to describe things in detail. I found it answered many of the questions I had wondered about when I watched the film, like “why didn’t they just escape through the box that delivered Thomas?” It seems James Dashner has an answer to every conceivable plot hole.
The characters are obviously fleshed out a lot more in the book. We learn more about how the Gladers first arrived, settled and established their community and how the hierarchy is structured. In the book, Thomas and Teresa share a special ability which isn’t mentioned at all in the film. This added another dimension to the story and gave some interesting clues, as well as helping me to know Teresa and Thomas better. Perhaps it wouldn’t have easily translated to the screen, but it’s a shame they didn’t include it.
The climax of the book pans out very differently and was more complicated and exciting. The way they figure out clues to solving the maze and planning their escape is much more interesting. The stakes were higher and the battle seemed more intense and difficult. The descriptions were more gruesome and frightening, although most of the violence is left to your imagination so that it doesn’t become overly gory and gratuitous. The ending is similar to the film, but the ultimate twist is delivered in an epilogue that I thought was very clever.
Overall, The Maze Runner was a fantastic read. It was fast-paced, exciting and full of surprising twist and turns. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading dystopian fiction with lots of action and puzzles. I enjoyed it much more than the film, which I feel doesn’t do it justice. I’m now excited to make a start on the next three books!
Have you read The Maze Runner? What did you think? How do you think it compares to the film?