The Maze Runner by James Dashner: A Book Review


I have never read a great deal of science fictions yet despite that   my major in psychology inculcated me in scientific schools of thoughts; I am more into books that have to do with philosophy, autobiography, politics, children’s life, agriculture, and history. The very first sci-fi that I read and eventually caused me to love this genre is The Martian by Andy Weir. After that, I failed to try another one, for there are too many books  lying around to read.

I got the good chance to read one when my student decided to read it in my reading class. I was exhilarated upon his book choice because this was one of the books I had wanted so much that I could not afford. He was the one who provided my own copy.Voila!

I first enjoyed it a whole a lot because the story is new to me. The settings are awfully fascinating: The people are trapped in the middle part of a mysterious and huge maze, and the challenge for them is how to get out of it by finding the exit. It is not about how to outwit or outplay one another. Kinda  survival of the fittest.  It is about testing who is cut out to be the maze runners   to solve the puzzle . In addition, the gargantuan   walls of the maze are so monumentally impressive and indescribable. Imagining them while reading sent  a chill   through my spine. I would even feel like jumping to my feet whenever I imaginarily heard the echolalia of the Grievers , the  bionic monster created to sting whoever dares to find the exit, and the  heavenly roar of the gates when they close  after twilight. As a matter of fact, what I liked most of the setting is that the characters have been living in the dead center of the maze, a wide  community which is called Glade, where everyone has access to everything they need. Eventually, I came to understand that the concept of this story is about experimentation on how humans can be used in  saving humanity.  For instance,  the  Flare  ,with its  deadly consequences like the contagious disease  , which is the cause of  human and earthly  destruction.

However, little did I realize that there seems to be something wrong with it; it is misleading and mesmerizing.  I forgot that what I look for in a book is consistency. Is the concept realistic or   conceivable?  Is there something   readers might miss  while being rendered amazed at it?  The answer could be yes because the story shows that   the earth is in a dystopian and ultramodern era or   no because it is unimaginable for a science ignoramus like me to believe that the Sun could be the reason for a  widespread viral disease. Perhaps, James Dashner   did not justify the ideal scene of  what he really wanted to paint a picture of. Take the movie   Elysium for instance ,written and directed by Neil Blomkamp and starred in by Matt Damon. It perfectly  depicts a dystopian world.  Rather, Dashner  focused on the maze itself.  Besides, it  occurred to me  that  he may have thought the trick would do that the reader would not realize that  the Gladers could  make a bigger difference   than  finding  the exit in the maze   by using their  mind  power inventing  something to fly out of the place  just the like of a parachute. What do you think?  So what happens is that   the reader only focuses on the book title: The Maze Runner. The characters are all absorbed in the idea of getting out of the   maze. I know  that you may contradict my  hypothesis because I  was even surprised to find out  that the maze  must be massive. It is even ridiculous of  me to suggest that the Gladers could have tried the  famous  suicidal game Angry Bird where the  Angry Birds use a huge, wooden slingshot  to pull themselves away.(laughs)

Despite my literary musings,  I can’t deny that the book has still considerable impact on me. First, it is   page turning. I only concentrated on the mission of the runners. Second, it is head- bashing. I had to think of answering the why’s in my mind. What is the purpose of  putting the people in the maze? Why  most of the characters are male? How did they survive the maze without sexual needs for two years? I wonder if there is such an  intimate relationship developed among them ? Pardon my prurient question! ( laughs) Finally, the ending is heart-breaking. I did not  expect that  there was such a thing,  tragic ending where readers have been attached to the brethren relationship between the two characters  all along  given the fact that obviously, it is a trick writers  usually use as a literary device – an old music that  still turned out to be marketable.

Like the other writers, it also took  Dashner   years  to finish it ,and was even  turned down by some publishers.I wonder what made them not to do so. Nevertheless, due to its sensational popularity and box-office movie adaptation,  Dashner should be grateful for gaining a toehold in writing its another sequels: The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, The Kill Order, and its coming-soon The Fever Code.  In fact, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure have also been adapted for movies. Huwaw!  Congratulations, Mr. Dashner!

Rating: 3/ 5 stars ( I liked it.)


The Martian by Andy Weir : A Book Review

martianThe best-seller and awarded the Goodreads  Choice 2014 Winner   and   which is said to have done well  at the box office since  October 02, 2015  is indeed  WORTH READING. I  repeat it is WORTH READING.

If you have not read it yet and  have been curious about why it is such a big  talk in the Goodreads universe, I would like you to bear in mind  first some reminders before you prep it- but not necessarily that you take  them; I know you would still give it a try at any cost  out of idle curiosity.

You should be ready that reading it requires  a  paucity of MATH and other  branches of science such as CHEMISTRY, ASTRONOMY, ENGINEERING, PHYSICS , BOTANY, to name a few unless you majored in one of them. Otherwise, you might end up in a   moment of epistaxis  and cerebral hemorrhage. In other words, the   novel  is strewn with  technical words. Therefore, make sure that you have internet connection  at your disposal to Google some words beyond your imagination. In doing so can help you understand the story more clearly.

The concept of the story is very new to me, for it  may be my second Sci-Fi. The last  one was the Contact by Carl Sagan. I had enjoyed it at first since I was not completely familiar with all stuff in the universe. However, I lost my interest   in its book cover edition; I was very choosy then. (Uh-oh! Beggars cannot be choosers.) Then, I could  no longer get around to it.

An astronaut is stranded on Mars when it just happens  that he is not able to leave it with his other crews in the midst of the sandstorm. In order to survive the red  planet, he will use his vast knowledge of Botany and Engineering as well as his wide training   and experience in Astronomy. Each day is perilous for Mark as if he walks with a tight rope.

Admittedly, I was close to demoting it to 3 stars ( Not that bad. I still liked it ) for the three  reasons:

  • I did not like the writing style, let alone its prose. It is brusque in context despite the fact that it is  pregnant with jargon. ( But I know there is nothing wrong  with brusque language ; it could still be an art. Probably, it is not my cup of tea. I am more used to   classic writings  just the like of award-winning writers’. You know what I meant to say.  ^^)  Nevertheless, in the end, I realized that  Andy Weir’s intention is to  voice  what  a devastating   life of an astronaut   stuck on such  barren and dreary planet is like . ( If I am not mistaken!)
  • Although I enjoyed the parts in the beginning, of how Mark Wanty sorts  his dilemma out, the longer he describes his some problems , the  more I find them a pain in the ass. In short, they were taxing me too.
  • The plot of the story is  banal and typical of other there-should-be-on-the-rescue-scenes science fictions.

On the other hand, I can’t forbear from lavishing praise on it:

  • Indeed, it is spell-binding. Every page is so enthralling that I could no longer recognize the people around me, that I was not aware of  them, of  my environment at all. (laughs)
  • I liked its ending. It does not need to show that Mark Wanty will have a tear-jerking hero’s welcome as soon as he is back on Earth. The last   breath-taking scene of how he gets aboard and his final journal  are enough to bring a thousand words. Weir might have been aware that readers are already familiar with that schematic denouement.
  • I learned a whole lot about science. In fact, I feel like studying Astronomy. (blushing) I am now very interested in studying the heavenly bodies. All the things about Cosmo, NASA, space exploration, thingamabob. Wow! What an interesting field!
  • The theme is very purely scientific. It focuses just on Mars probe. As far as we know, Mars has been the favorite hobbyhorse among scientists in the  hypothesis that whether there is a  high chance to live on this planet or not.
  • It is very scientifically detailed. Obviously, Andy Weir researched about Mars and NASA thoroughly, especially the problems on Mars Mark Wanty has to sort out such as on how to produce water and oxygen , plant , repair the machines , blah blah blah . Wow, I was impressed. Kudos to him! ^_^
  • Despite its typically there-should-be-on-the-rescue-scenes story, the epistolary writing riddled with technical words did the justice. So, I can’t say that there is nothing new to it. Rather, I highly recommend it to everyone, notably to  students who have been taught the Creationism.

Upon reading it, I would like to conclude that:

  • The book awkwardly suggests that China has hidden ambition to compete with the USA in the field of space exploration. The good thing is that China has  not given Andy Weir a brunt of criticism nor even declared him persona non grata yet. Perhaps Weir also suggests that China has the capacity to keep up with the modern technology despite the world’s stereotype about made-in-China products.
  • The book suggests the perpetual debate among  theists and atheists whether God exists or not.
  • The book suggests that sometimes NASA or science itself has limitations; scientific analyses could be invalid, but nothing is impossible.
  • The book suggests that we, the world, at any cost, is raring to spend billions of dollars on space exploration. (Paradoxically, there is a widespread famine in some parts of the world.)
  • The book suggests that we could be optimistic in a dire situation. ( I doubt it. ) Probably yes, since we have the survival instinct. But gee, if I were Mark Watney, probably no! since I am not that as genius as he is.( laughs)
  • The book suggests that we should use our “common sense” as well as need to be knowledgeable about science at all times if the need rises.
  • The book suggests that a human being has a basic instinct to help one another out as what Mark Watney exemplifies at the end of the book  :

“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re ,massively outnumbered by the people who do. And because of that, I had billions of people on my side.”

Well, no doubt it has received   positive  feedback, so the British magazine site ,The Guardian , should put it on the new  pedestal of 1001 Best Novels of All Time.

Since I am done with it, I am all systems go for its movie adaptation, especially the actor who leads the role of Mark Watney  is  one of my favorite Hollywood actors, Matt Damon. 13 13 13 ^_^

Rating: 4/ 5 stars ( I really liked it.)