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The Maze Runner by James Dashner MAG
James Dashner has joined the ranks of authors like Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling, who have written young adult books that have been successfully translated to film. I was thrilled when I heard that The Maze Runner would be made into a movie, and it was well worth the wait. I would even go so far as to say that the film surpasses the book by smoothing out some plot kinks and bringing the maze into reality with A-grade visual effects.
Don't assume that I hated the book, though. In fact, I loved it. Unlike with other novels I have recently read (Divergent by Veronica Roth and The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey), I was unable to predict the ending. The Maze Runner holds you in suspense as Thomas, a boy with no memory but his name, wakes up in a cage that deposits him in the Glade, a farm-like area surrounded by stone walls. He is soon told by other boys living there that the Glade is the center of a giant maze. As a reader you are just as clueless as Thomas and figure things out along with him. I loved the unpredictability of the book, and every time I thought I had a grip on what was going on or what was going to happen, there would be another crazy plot twist.
Although Thomas is the protagonist, a number of really great characters star alongside him: Alby, Newt, Chuck, and Minho. These boys teach Thomas about the organized life inside the maze (not at all like Lord of the Flies, as these boys know how to run things). Each is assigned a different role. The Runner has the job of running in the maze every day to try and find a way out. This might sound easy, but throw in the fact that the maze changes every night and is patrolled by hideous, deadly creatures called Grievers.
When Thomas (who is slightly different from the others, as most YA protagonists are) arrives in the maze, it sets in motion a series of events that changes life in the Glade. The style of writing isn't terrible, although I felt it was a little juvenile at times. It's one of those books with a plot that's so good you forgive the author for how it is written.
The movie, directed by Wes Ball, is a winner. It felt like everything just worked, with all aspects of the film coming together to give the audience quality entertainment that I wished could have carried on for another two hours. Certain aspects of the story weren't there, as is necessary when adapting for screen, but I felt that it had all the crucial elements; what was removed wasn't detrimental to the driving force of the narrative. Thomas was played by Dylan O'Brien, an actor who I think we all need to keep an eye on. I applaud his portrayal, as I felt that he was more concerned with being believable than being handsome. Actually, none of the actors seemed afraid of looking ugly or dirty (which is what one would expect after they run around and do manual labor).
The director and wardrobe department deserve a prize for their devotion to continuity. The characters each wore one outfit through the entire film, which, along with their bodies, got dirtier and dirtier as the days passed. One point that made me giggle was when we meet Teresa, played by Kaya Scodelario. At first her hair looks silky and gorgeous, but the next time we see her, it's frizzy due to the humidity. Most girls would agree that this struggle is real. This was my main quarrel with “The Hunger Games,” since I thought Jennifer Lawrence should have looked dirtier and more worn out than she did. Bravo, “Maze Runner,” for giving us some verisimilitude in this highly surreal movie.
As I mentioned earlier, the special effects were excellent. I truly felt like I was there, and when Thomas almost gets squished by the maze (three times, I might add), my heart wouldn't stop pounding. I really enjoyed the fact that I wasn't watching it in 3D, because the effects can sometimes get in the way of actually seeing what's going on.
This wasn't just an adrenaline-junkie film either; there was some emotional acting by O'Brien. Another stellar performance was by Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who was very natural and believable and exactly how I pictured Newt. Will Poulter, who played Gally, a character who at times is the antagonist, also did an excellent job. Although most of the cast were relative newcomers, I think they were strong and no doubt very well guided by the director and the more experienced actors on set.
It will be interesting to see what they do with the next two books in the trilogy, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure, as I thought that these were not up to par with The Maze Runner.
Overall I would highly recommend The Maze Runner and its movie version to bookworms and film fanatics alike.