This is going to sound riddled with Obvious Holes but I felt like I was in an alternate universe. Not one where, you know, Mazes are Run, but one where you get to this wacky new place and have no memories and everyone is kind of rude but the ONE GUY who’s like, Welcome here *extends hand* you refuse to shake hands with. When the leader of a zany new place offers to shake your hand you shake his hand. Right? That is a normal human reaction.
Or when this kid Chuck says (before pulling a prank), ‘I love doing this to people. Gives me great pleasure before bedtime.’ What an odd thing to say. And you get the sense that these odd things aren’t part of the suspense, they’re just misfires. Like, this is how Dashner thinks teenage boys really behave.
Or Chuck says something about a kid being cut in half, and Thomas laughs because ‘who ever heard of someone being cut in half?’ Magicians, kid. Factory accidents. Kill Bill movies. People are cut in half all the time.
Plus here’s a YA author who thinks teens are dumb. Like, it’s chapter 6 and he’s all, ‘It was Newt – the guy who seemed to be second in command’ when all he’s done in chapters 1-5 is show us how Newt seems to be second in command.
Slliiight spoiler: Thomas becomes a Maze Runner. Obviously. What’s dumb is how on the first day he’s in bed and thinks, Hey, I totally need to become a Runner. Nevermind that I have no idea what that is, and that the only time I’ve seen a Runner he looked harried. Which, fine, premonitions and shit, but then he starts telling the guy next to him how he’s going to be a Runner. Any normal kid, you get a weird premonition in a field full of strangers about something you don’t understand, you keep that shit to yourself.
And then every two or three paragraphs he muses on how he wants to be a Runner, and how mysterious it is that he wants it so bad. When he’s not thinking of being a Runner he’s thinking of the Girl who showed up suddenly, and how strange it is that he keeps thinking of her. It’s like by lampshading the non-explanation Dashner thinks he can get away without having any reason for why Thomas wants to be a Runner, or why he keeps thinking of the Girl (the reason comes later, and it isn’t so much a reason as a ‘reason’). And I know those things are probably connected because Dashner is metaphorically all-capsing their connectedness, but given the plethora of Weird Shit going down there is no reason for Thomas to keep connecting these two specific Weird Shits like he does.
I hate constantly being told that this is how a character is feeling and this is why, as though I hadn’t been watching and couldn’t suss out for myself what he was probably feeling and why. I hate it more when I can’t suss it out for myself, because NOTHING in the context of the story would indicate that he would be feeling that. Contrariwise, I hate when a character is suddenly going to Do A Thing, and the author is all, ps, he has no idea why he is going to Do This Thing. And I realize that I’m both harping on Dashner for telling me too much and not telling me enough but I think I just need you to show your work and not just, like, give me the answers. That doesn’t fly in 11th grade physics, it doesn’t fly here.
And lovely writing can cover a multitude of plot sins as far as I’m concerned, but lines like ‘Emptiness ate away at his insides, quickly replaced by a sadness that hurt his heart’ smack of my favorite incestress, one V C Andrews. Miss Andy? You back from the dead?
And I know I said I’d stick to the first hundred pages but there’s a scene from the end that’s so parodic I couldn’t have done it better. Except that it’s for serious. It’s like the inverse of that scene in that book we all read a while ago where the boy’s dog gets killed, and when you tell someone about it, it sounds lame but the scene itself is hella tragic? This is the opposite of that, where if I told you what happened it would sound Very Sad Indeed but when you’re reading the actual scene it’s all, Find…*gasp*…my mom. Tell her…*dies* LOL!
And it ends exactly like House of Stairs, with more gunfire and a side of sequel bait. That is to say, unsatisfactorily.
And I KNOW that many people loved this book, and are going to be all Verily, haters to the left. And you are right. I will go sit over here on the left and bear you no ill will, because taste is subjective and the things that rankle me may not even ruffle your tail feathers.
But oh, I am so rankled.
Three caterpillars, because I actually finished it.