Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles. She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books. She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben
Author: James Dashner
I am speechless. Only once in a great while do you come across a book that is literally impossible to put down. In fact, I don’t believe this has happened to me since The DaVinci Code – when I honestly didn’t want to take a break to eat, go to work, sleep…nothing. But after all this time, Mr. Dashner has come along with a story that, literally, I will be talking about for years to come.
As the Box opens, the darkness is finally lifted and a young man named Thomas (our main character) stares up into the eyes of a literal “clan” of young men. As he’s helped out of the strange contraption, and the Box falls back through a hole in the ground, the strange boys surrounding Thomas begin to speak. The young boy is frightened. He has no memory of who he is or where he came from, only that his name is Thomas and he has been transported to a place he’s never seen.
Immediately, a seventeen-year-old boy – the obvious leader of the group – named Alby, steps forward. Thomas is amazed as the young man begins to speak. The words are certainly English, but the comments such as calling him “greenbean,” and “klunk-for-brains,” is so confusing that Thomas has no idea what the older boy is talking about. As things begin to unfold, Thomas receives a helper named Chuck. Chuck is a sweetheart of a boy who was the “newbie” until Thomas arrived. Through Chuck, Thomas is introduced to the Glade.
The Gladers, which is what the group of boys call themselves, have a literal working colony that they’ve set up. None of them can remember who they were or where they came from – they all just woke up in the dark and arrived in the Box. Over time, they have built their community. The head council who make all the rules – like their own little Senate – is run by the Keepers. There are Keepers of all different things (Gardens/farming; The Blood House/animals for food; and – most importantly – The Runners.)
The Runners are a group of young men who – when the giant metal doors open in the morning – run into a Maze that is right outside of the Glade. This maze is filled with fearsome creatures that come out at night, called the Grievers. The Grievers are deadly, and even if they only “swipe” someone with one of the long metal needles that protrude from their skin, the victim will go through The Change – which allows the victim to see “memories” of their previous life. The Maze is also littered with strange metallic, red-eyed insects that seem to be spies – watching the Gladers and what they accomplish.
Thomas is told that to go back home, the Maze needs to be solved. That is the ONLY way out. The next day after Thomas’ arrival, the Box again begins to rise from the ground taking all the Gladers by surprise. Usually there is a long time between boys being sent into their world. But when the box opens, they are even more surprised. A young girl lies comatose before them; a female who has somehow triggered the End. Upon her arrival, Thomas begins to see flashes from a life he knows nothing about, and realizes that the Maze is something he’s seen before. The clock is ticking; they must solve the puzzle before the Grievers come and wipe them out.
There are not enough adjectives in the human language to describe the story that Mr. Dashner has delivered. This should be, literally, the next book phenomenon. This will be classified, I suppose, as YA fiction. I have to tell you that’s just wrong; there’s no way that young adults should get all the good luck. This story is made for absolutely everyone who wants a pulse-pounding, imaginative thrill ride, with a story as intense and compelling as The Matrix. I thank my lucky stars (and, the author, of course) that this is only Book I of a continuing series. I will wait on the edge of my seat for the next one.