Blogger: Rachel Kent
I finished reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner last night. The movie comes out in September, so I had to read the book before I go to see it with my good friend. We always go together to the movies that are based off of teen reads.
I enjoyed how James Dashner built up the mystery element of the story right from the beginning. The very first scene introduces the reader to Thomas, a teenage boy who has no recollection of who he is. He is being hoisted up in a dark box to an unknown place, and he feels like his memories are right there on the surface, but he can’t recall anything about his past or how he got to be in the primitive elevator. He arrives in The Glade and meets approximately 40 other boys who have the same memory loss problems. They are trapped there and are surrounded by a giant maze that appears to have no solution and is filled with dangerous beasts. (That’s all I’m going to say about the plot! I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.)
As the story progresses, we find out little tidbits that help to put together the pieces of the puzzle, but we don’t know anything more than Thomas does. The reader figures out what is going on at the same pace as the characters. I haven’t read many books like this, where there’s a puzzle to be solved and the reader is able to discover the answer along with the characters. I think James Dashner was able to pull it off successfully because he allowed the mystery to create the tension the book needed to keep the reader engaged. He fed the reader just the right amount of information in each chapter.
The final, completed puzzle was a disappointment for me, but many people read and loved this book, and it’s perfectly fine to disagree with me. 😉 Even though I didn’t love the ending, I still appreciate the artful way Dashner built the mystery and tension of the story. I think similar techniques could be used in many fiction manuscripts–even if there’s not an obvious puzzle to be solved. Forcing the reader to wait for answers keeps the tension up and the reader interested.
Being careful not to spoil the story for others, I’d love it if you would share how you felt about The Maze Runner.
Have you read any other books where the mystery is slowly revealed throughout the book? Which ones? What techniques did you notice the author using?