Series Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Number of Books: 3 (plus two prequels)
Genre: Young Adult Dystopia
Series (Average) Rating: 3/5 stars ★★★
The Maze Runner series is a post-apocalyptic story set in the time of what they call, “Sun Flares,” a phenomenon that caused a massive outbreak of the so-called, “Flare virus.” Wicked, an organization aimed at finding cure for the said virus, started an experiment among the “immunes” and there we find our young hero, Thomas, who may just be the key to finding the cure.
Dashner knew what he was doing when he started The Maze Runner series but lost that along the way. The first book surpassed expectations and more, packed with exciting action and never before ‘seen’ elements that would both intrigue and spook the reader. Maze Runner set the bar a little too high that the succeeding books failed to follow through.
BOOK 1: THE MAZE RUNNER
“If you ain’t scared… you ain’t human.”
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.
Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Everything is going to change.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
Remember. Survive. Run.
4 of 5 stars to The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Maze Runner is a solid beginning to a series and definitely the star. Since it’s an introduction to the series and we are navigating Dashner’s writing style for the first time, we get a lot of surprises that keep the experience exciting. It’s also well-paced and perhaps that is the reason why this book is the best in the series.
BOOK 2: THE SCORCH TRIALS
“False hope,” she said. “Guess that’s better then no hope at all.”
Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end.
Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch.
There are no rules. There is no help. You either make it or you die.
The Gladers have two weeks to cross through the Scorch—the most burned-out section of the world. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.
Friendships will be tested. Loyalties will be broken. All bets are off.
There are others now. Their survival depends on the Gladers’ destruction—and they’re determined to survive.
3 of 5 stars to The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
Onto Scorch Trials aka the beginning of the series’ downfall. Dashner definitely had good intentions for book two (let the leads go on another experiment and introduce a new side to their personalities) but he went about some of it in the most disappointing or let’s say, unimaginative way.
Thomas needed Scorch Trials to grow up and become the leader that he is destined to be but the plot devices used to achieve that was so cliche. I’m talking about Teresa’s betrayal. Don’t get me wrong–I liked that there is a betrayal because it explored the nuances of Teresa’s character–I’m just not so keen on it being about romance. I think the movie did it better. In the book, Teresa’s betrayal involved getting into a pseudo-relationship with Aris that sent Thomas into a rage of jealousy that frankly, sounded so juvenile but hey, it’s a reminder that he’s actually a teenager. If I hadn’t seen the movie first, I wouldn’t probably have issues with it. However, the movie version of THE betrayal happens to be better and well thought out. Teresa, in her belief that wicked is good, revealed their group’s secret location that resulted in Minho getting kidnapped.
The movie also wrote Teresa’s character a thousand times better. In the movies, it’s always been pretty clear that she’ll choose wicked/finding a cure over following Thomas and you couldn’t fault her for that because her motivations were clear. There’s nothing like that in the book and sadly, she was just used as a mere pawn to incite drama in the romance department. I’m sorry but Dashner just can’t write a good female character. Even Brenda sucked. She fell for Thomas quite fast and Thomas vice versa. The progression of their relationship was quick that it didn’t look believable. I think Dashner has no use for female leads other than for romantic conflicts.
BOOK 3: THE DEATH CURE
“Fear of the unknown no longer controlled him. Hope had found its way in and taken hold.”
It’s the end of the line.
WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends—the Gladers. But it’s finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test.
Will anyone survive?
What WICKED doesn’t know is that Thomas remembers far more than they think. And it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what they say.
The truth will be terrifying.
Thomas beat the Maze. He survived the Scorch. He’ll risk anything to save his friends. But the truth might be what ends it all.
The time for lies is over.
2 of 5 stars to The Death Cure by James Dashner
Last is Death Cure or what I like to call the ‘fuck it’ book as Dashner seemed to have given up on the story. Cop out ending, dilly-dallying plots, lack of action (especially considering this is a finale)–are just some of the reasons why the book failed. I understand now why the movie changed the story so much starting with Scorch Trials. It needed to pick up pace and build a better post apocalyptic world. Fans would attack me if they see this review and being a book nerd myself, I feel like I’m betraying my kind with what I’m about to say but here goes: the moviesㅡScorch Trials and Death Cure at leastㅡare better than their book counterparts. Death Cure was Dashner’s last chance to make the series better or to at least get back up from the fall of Scorch Trials but instead, it’s even worse. Pacing is slower and world-building is vague when it should have been the time to explain what caused the flare and all that (apparently a prequel is in the works that’s why Dashner never explained it here, not that getting a prequel is any better. I started Kill Order months ago and have yet to finish it because it’s just another slumber party with expendable characters).
It’s really sad the last two books aren’t any good. It could’ve been such an epic series if Dashner just continued with the spook factor from book 1 until the final chapters of book 3 and wrote his characters–especially Thomas and Teresa–better.