Author’s Note: This article discusses the audiobook The Maze Runner by James Dashner and narrated by Mark Deakins and may contain spoilers.
I think the first time I heard about The Maze Runner was when I read one of those “Read these books before the movie comes out so you too can seem cool and hip and with it!” posts. It sounded like a cool premise and stuck out to me as the most interesting one on the list, and after downloading a copy of the audiobook, I was really excited to listen to it.
The Maze Runner starts with Thomas being transported to the mysterious place known as the Glade, with no memories of his own except for his name. When he meets the other boys living there, about 40 or 50 of them, he realizes that they’ve all gone through the same thing, and are trying to figure out a way to escape the Glade by working through the massive maze that surrounds them. The maze is made up of walls that change every night and patrolled by mutant machines called Grievers. A small group of boys called Runners spends their days exploring the maze to try and discover a way out, and as the book’s title suggests, Thomas almost immediately wants to become one of them.
Dashner doesn’t waste much time before throwing readers right into the world of the Glade with Thomas, complete with slang words that are reminiscent of Alex’s in A Clockwork Orange, which is something that I think will really help younger kids become absorbed in the story of Thomas and the rest of the Gladers. It’s a little overwhelming at first to have all these character names and information and slang thrown at you in the course of ten pages, but at the same time, it also forces the reader into feeling something similar to the confusion and anxiety that Thomas felt during his first few hours in the Glade.
The ending and the explanation as to how all the boys (and Theresa) arrived at the Glade came as a surprise to me, and I was pretty happy with it, even though it involved the demise of one of my favorite characters. Dashner also wrote a prequel to The Maze Runner series called The Kill Order, and after learning about how the maze was created, I could definitely see that being an interesting part of the series, as well, instead of just something that got tacked on as an afterthought, like some prequels can be.
With all the good parts that came with the story itself, I’m a little hesitant to recommend Mark Deakins as the book’s reader. He tries to sound dramatic, but more often than not, he ends up coming off like a poor man’s Cecil Baldwin. He’s not the best at differentiating the voices of the boys, either, and with so many characters to keep track of, that becomes a bit of a problem (although he did do a pretty kickass job with crazed Galley). One of my favorite characters, Newt, is apparently English…or maybe Scottish; I couldn’t really tell. Either way, though, I didn’t realize this fact until about halfway through the story because Deakins’ accents aren’t exactly his strong suit. The thing that gave it away for me was actually the words that Newt uses, not the way his dialogue was read.
I did see a preview for the movie adaptation before The Fault in Our Stars (how ever many tissues you think you’ll need is definitely not enough, by the way), and it actually looked pretty great. I have high hopes going into the rest of this series, and I hope the movie gives it more of the exposure that it deserves.
Story: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Narration: 2 out of 5 stars
Allison Racicot is the Audiobook Reviewer at Girls in Capes. She’s a recent graduate of Emerson College in Boston, and has a degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. She spends too much time listening to podcasts and getting overly attached to fictional characters.
Excited about other 2014 summer movies? Check out Gaming Writer Joel Wallick’s review of Amazing Spider-Man 2 or TV & Film Writer Christina Casano’s side-by-side comparison of The Fault in Our Stars’ book and its movie adaptation. You can also check out Allison’s articles on podcasts featuring voice actors and women in podcasting.