Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer of My Utah Writers: THE MAZE RUNNER

I will be the first to admit that I have NOT been a big fan of worlds-gone-wrong novels - aka dystopian genre. But last year I "had" to read a few books of this ilk as part of my job responsibilities. The first was Unwind by Neal Shusterman; the second was The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick; and then I got hooked on the first 2 books of the The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. (And yes, I'm counting down the days when the 3rd novel, Mockingjay, hits the book stores - 26 days until August 24th.)

This baptism into these excellent novels that delve into post-apocalyptic scenarios made a convert of me. And so when I found The Maze Runner or it found me, I was thrilled to read another page-turner in this genre. BUT I was even more excited to learn that James Dashner, the author, lives right here in the Beehive state. Granted, he grew up in another of my favorite states, Georgia, where I enjoyed teaching in the same county where James went to school, but I delegate him as a Utah writer because that is where he writes. Got it?

Now about the book. It's a GREAT book for boys, but girls will like it, too. While it doesn't have an overt romance YET, there is sure to be more of that in the upcoming sequel. But girls don't always read for romance. Well, a few teen girls don't.

During my reading, I caught glimpses of Lord of the Flies without the societal break-down, and I also felt connections to Ender's Game as well. But the "buggers" (grievers) are bigger, badder, and omnipresent! I also appreciated the sass and sarcasm exhibited by the characters without recognizable foul language. I say that because Dashner's glade/community spoke their own kind of potty-lingo, and so it wasn't as offensive. (I have an Austrian friend who has lived in the U.S. for a long time, and he claims that swearing in German just doesn't seem uncivil anymore. But I digress.)

Basically, the underlying question of Maze is what can drive intelligent young men plus one girl to solve the unsolvable before giving up? What challenges will discourage or destroy their determination? What else can such individuals accomplish if they overcome the impossible? It's VERY cool AND a GREAT RIDE. Yes, yes it is! If you doubt me, check out this awesome trailer.

P.S. This novel is the first of a trilogy, and I am just as excited to read the second book that debuts in October, thus starting yet another countdown!

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