Just Finished Reading: The Maze Runner by James Dashner (FP: 2010)
Thomas (played by Dylan O’Brien in the 2014 movie adaptation) wakes up hurtling towards and unknown future and, heavily disorientated, emerges into the Glade surrounded by a large number of young men. He has just become the latest member of the Gladers, a Greenie until the next boy arrives in another 4 weeks. This is how it’s been every month for the last 2 years. Each month another face, supplies and no clue as to what they are doing there or who sent them – short of an invented name: The Creators. Slowly over the next few days Thomas is shown around the Glade, introduced to its leading lights and is told the Rules that keep everything ticking along. Everyone has a job, no matter who they are, everyone has a profession that suits the abilities of the person and the needs of the collective – Farmer, Cook, Builder, Runner. The Runners are the elite – their task to ‘run the Maze’, that seemingly endless and ever changing conundrum surrounding the Glade, in order to find a way out. After 2 years they’re still looking, still mapping, still hoping. But they everything starts to change. Acting on impulse Thomas enters the Maze to help two Runners and is forced to spend the night in a territory no one is expected to survive it. For at night, when the Maze doors close, creatures called Grievers patrol its corridors looking for the lost, the injured and the foolish. Then only days later, rather than the expected weeks, a second person arrives – the first girl, Teresa (played by Kaya Scodelario) – with a message. She is the last Glader, ever….
I missed this when it came out at the Cinema and only caught up with it many months later on cheap DVD. Despite its rather sparse storyline and young cast (only 3-4 of whom I recognised) I thought that it was more than reasonable for what it was – fairly inventive, reasonably acted and with an intriguing backstory. It was much lower key that the other teen franchises we’d known previously (Hunger Games and Divergent – to say nothing of Twilight) so it made a nice change of pace. So when I saw the whole series of 4 books on offer in my local chain bookshop I picked all four of them up.
Inevitably there are differences between the book and the movie – after all they’re very different genres. The characters are largely the same except there’s a lot more back story in the book that had to be cut from the movie to save time. Thomas is essentially identical in both book and movie but I preferred the book Teresa to the film version as the book girl was much more of a hero(ine) than her movie sidekick version. She was also a lot ballsier in the book which made me smile quite a bit. Thankfully they dropped the telepathy from the book and it never made it into the film. I really couldn’t see any point in that! The Grievers where much the same in both book and film except that in the book they were more slug like and in the film essentially spiders. Both were still pretty scary though. I can imagine younger readers in particular having nightmares about them! The Maze and the way out where broadly similar as was the ending in both movie/book. Most of the middle – probably cut to save time and simplify things – was rather different in the book as we learned far more about WICKED and why the kids where in the Maze in the first place so the book ended up making far more sense than the movie ever did. I wasn’t hugely impressed by the movie sequel but I’ll be reading the book (and the other two) at some point. A reasonable book and a reasonable adaptation.