Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Maze Runner, Enders Game and Lord of the Flies

The Maze Runner by James Dashner 2011 Kentucky Bluegrass Award winner for grades 9-12!
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.


Ever since I was a little girl I have loved Mazes, possibly because I am obsessed with the movie Labyrinth, so of course I was going to read a book about a Maze.  The Maze Runner is the first in a series of Young Adult Distopian (sci-fi) Novels. Heavily influenced by Enders Game by Orson Scott Card and The Lord of the Flies by William Golding.  This book was also recommended for those that enjoyed The Hunger Games, which I did. 

Keeping in mind the pacing of The Hunger Games and the fact that this is a young adult novel, I found it moved a bit slow.  Well, maybe not slow but left too many questions unanswered.  The entire book is one big question and only gets worse when the only girl shows up.  By the end of the book none of the questions have been answered, in fact more have been presented.  I have a copy of The Scorch Trials, book two, but for some reason I wasn't dying to pick it up and solve the mystery.

The Maze itself is beautifully described, very intriguing, I want to be in it (minus the scary monsters).  However Dashner could have done a bit more hashing out the characters.  Thomas has an insatiable urge to become a runner and find a way out of the Maze (I understand wanting to get out of the Maze) but due to the amount of mystery Dashner wrote into the book, the characters have no memory, there is no reason behind this drive. 

Overall I found the book okay, I do plan on reading on but not anytime soon, I have a ton of other books that are calling my interest much stronger than The Scorch Trials.  I am however intrigued by the idea of this book being turned into a movie.  It has been Green lighted and IMDB reports that it is in development and due sometime in 2013.  If the movie is anything like the Book Trailer it will be a must see. 

At the time I was reading it I did not know that Dashner had been inspired by William Golding.  I kept saying, wow this is very Lord of the Flies.  So I did a bit of research (what did we do before the Internet?) and discovered that Dashner, in an interview, said that he was inspired by The Lord of the Flies and Enders Game.  I had never read Enders Game, I did read Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card and didn't enjoy it.  But I decided to pick up Enders Game to see the connection.

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race's next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn't make the cut--young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender's skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers, Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender's two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If the world survives, that is.


I really enjoyed this book.  I could go on and on but there were only two things that bothered me and neither of them are very significant.  The first is that I thought Ender was too young, he is 6 in the book.  I have a five year old and I guess the whole idea of a genius 6 year old is hard for me to wrap my mind around.  When I ignored this component I liked Ender and the book was believable. 

My second issue was that in the middle of the book Card takes the reader away from Enders experiences and focuses on his brother and sister.  This slowed the pace down, and while it is probably vital to the other books I have no intention of reading any more in this series having heard that this book is the best. 

In relation to The Maze Runner, there is not as much of The Enders Game influence but it is there.  The futuristic, more scientific approach, killing off the buggers can all be seen in The Maze Runner. 

What I find very interesting is that Enders Game is being made into a movie also and is scheduled to come out next year.  The same time as The Maze Runner.  Enders Game is much further along in production.  Below is a fan made video showing off the cast.  You can also view the cast on IMDB.

Originally published in 1954, William Golding's Lord of the Flies is one of the most disturbing and celebrated novels of modern times. — A plane crashes on a desert island. The only survivors are a group of schoolboys. At first they revel in the freedom and celebrate the absence of grown-ups. Soon though, as the boys' fragile sense of order begins to collapse, their fears start to take on a sinister, primitive significance. Suddenly, the world of cricket, homework and adventure stories seems a long way away. The boys are faced with a more pressing reality — survival — and the appearance of a terrifying beast who haunts their dreams

I read Lord of the Flies when I was in High School (many many years ago) and didn't like it.  However I decided to give the book a second chance thinking that since it was a school assignment that I might like it when not forced to read it.  So I picked up the audio and couldn't get past the first CD.  I just don't like the characters. 

In relation to The Maze Runner there are a lot of similarities.  My dislike of the characters in The Lord of the Flies is because they were such well developed and well written characters which to me is what was missing in the Maze Runner. 

If you haven't read The Lord of the Flies then you will miss out on many of the influences and connections between it and The Maze Runner, but I don't think that it will make you like or dislike the book anymore or less.

The Lord of the Flies was originally made into a movie in 1960 and remade in 1990 so you can watch that if you don't want to read the book.

Overall I found The Maze Runner a fun read because it let me to reading a new book and to reanalyze one I read a long time ago.

I am linking up with Art @ Home's Literary Friday


Heather said...

Character development gets MUCH better in the second and third books in the Maze Runner trilogy. They're worth it, believe me. :)

Ricki Jill Treleaven said...

Wow, all three reviews are fantastic! I am amazed at the surge in dystopian novels in YA fiction. I am very intrigued with The Maze Runner. I don't think either of my daughters have read it yet. How many books are in the series so it a trilogy?

I did like Lord of the Flies, but it has been a long time since I read it.

Thanks so much for linking up! :D

We need to get together sometimes for coffee and discuss books.


Jess said...

Ender's Game is one of my favorite books of all time!