Boys Just Wanna Not Be Lab Rats: The Maze Runner et al.

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In the continuing theme of “Oh, shit, I meant to do that by now” I present to you my review of the Maze Runner trilogy. Although I read them in December during winter break, I was wise enough to take down a few notes to refresh what was lovely and what was … not so great about these books. Thar be spoilers below.Quick & Dirty Teaser: The world has gone to shit. The sun flared dramatically and changed the global ecosystem. The changes also released a biological weapon that some country (*cough* the U.S. *cough*) that slowly causes people to go violently insane and has spread throughout the world. But of course there are people with natural immunities. The world leaders (now all working together) are allowing immune children to be put through tests in order to find a cure. Some of the children – once they know – are not too keen being lab rats.

So if you saw the movie, read the book. It’s better and makes the non-Dylan O’Brien characters much more interesting (side note: I am huge fan of Dylan O’Brien – he reminds me of Christian Slater circa Heathers – but that movie made his character too “hero,” too perfect).

Okay the review part from my notes/what I remember. It’s a great plot throughout all three books. It moves quickly but doesn’t rush the reader to the point of exhaustion. The books are perfect for that “I just took a bunch of exams and really want to be taken on a journey and not have to think too much” time in life. They aren’t the most amazing things you’ll ever read, but you get your money’s worth.

A couple of the things that bugged me in the writing. Book two has Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) falling asleep as the way to end what seemed like every chapter. There is nothing wrong with him. There doesn’t seem to be another reason to have him do it; it’s just the end of the chapter. And it was fucking annoying. Oh, look, Thomas is falling asleep again. Oh, and there is the end of the chapter. So, this repetition could really tell you something about how Thomas reacts to the stresses of what he is going through, but that is not what was happening here. Or at least, that is not what came across. He’s just ending his day (and chapter). Thomas struggling to stay awake mid-chapter. Thomas longing to sleep but unable to because he is trying to survive. These would have made the chapter endings more powerful than just a metaphorical curtain dropping between acts.

Book three has some minor inconsistencies. So that is what I had in my notes. I would tell you what they are, but I don’t remember the details, so you’ll just have to trust me. They don’t affect the story, but they were noticeable.

And finally, my request to authors everywhere: Please work harder to make female characters more than window dressing, more than some checkbox you ticked, in your books. In book one, we have a group of all but one male test subjects. In book two, we find out that there was another group that is all but one female test subjects. Awesome, I thought, we are going to see some similarly developed, badass female characters. Nope. It was pretty much a sausagefest the whole time. The female characters we get to journey with are all in love with Thomas and seem to have little purpose outside of that. They were still badass. I (and many women) just crave fuller female characters not defined by their love of some boy. I knew that the first book was nearly all boys (because I saw the movie first), and because the second group felt sort of tacked on as an attempt to avoid being called out for the lack of women, I almost wish Dashner hadn’t bothered. It’s always hard to decide which is worse: being patronized or being unrepresented.

Anyway! Even with all that, it was a fun series, and if that is what you are looking for, I recommend grabbing a copy. And once you are done with book one, tell me: do you also think Alby & Newt were together? Because that was beyond bromance to me.

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