Book talks for readers at Chisago Lakes Middle School.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner

Some of you probably think it would be weird not to be on Facebook. It’s a great way to connect with friends and family, right? Yet, have you ever thought about the following?

1. With social media sites like Facebook, appearances can often be deceiving.
2. Social media can make your friends’ lives look way different than they really are.
3. For some, Facebook is just a way to keep the daily dramas going.
4. There’s more to life than checking your Facebook every day.
5. Facebook is like living in a fishbowl, or another world.

Social media make the world seem like it is shrinking. Having so many online friends might make you feel good, but it also might make you feel like you are constantly on stage or constantly being watched.

Inside the book, the Maze Runner, by James Dashner, everyone knows they are being watched, and they definitely experience the world closing in on them. Each of them has been forced to live in the strange world known as The Maze. Every night, like clockwork, sets of gigantic doors close off The Maze from another space called the Glade. The Glade is the only safe zone within the world of the Maze. As the doors close it makes a reader wonder if they were built to prevent someone from getting out, or to prevent something from getting in.

If you lived there, the sights and smells would remind you of a farm. Inside the Glade, dozens of boys ranging from ages 12 to 18 grow their own food, raise their own animals and try to meet all their daily needs for survival. Yet, before the gigantic doors automatically close, a different group of boys called runners need to race back to the Glade. A runner's job is to explore the maze during the day. Their mission: to find a way out. If a runner does not make it back in time certain death at the hands of the grievers awaits. The grievers, half machine, half beast, roam the maze at night while the boys sleep, safely sealed inside the Glade like important investments within a secret vault.

The boys call those that put them in the maze the creators, although there are no real memories of them. Their memories were wiped clean before arrival, with only a first name to carry into their new life. On schedule, a new boy arrives in the Glade every month. The current newbie is named Thomas. However, something has changed. Thomas is different than the rest.

Although he feels drugged and is confused about his new surroundings, Thomas doesn’t drown himself in hopelessness. Unlike many of the boys that need more time to come to grips with the harsh world of the Glade, Thomas has a strange confidence about him. He doesn’t tell anyone, but he feels like he’s been to this world before. Somehow he knows he's supposed to be a runner.

Do the other boys notice what’s different about Thomas? Will they give him the job of runner? Will they tell Thomas what it's like to be stung by a griever? Will Thomas find a way out of the maze?

Sorry, none of these questions matter right now. Someone else has just arrived. A girl. And she has something written on her arm:

“WICKED is good.”

Before you think you know what this means, just remember......appearances can often be deceiving.

(Check out the YouTube Book Trailer for The Maze Runner, but first know that it is a little intense. Spoiler Alert: The screaming you see at the end has something to do with an encounter with a griever.)

*Important Notes!: The Maze Runner came out in 2009. The 2nd book in the series is called the Scorch Trials, and the 3rd installment, the Death Cure, comes out this fall. The Maze Runner has been nominated for the 2011-2012 Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award. This is Minnesota’s Award for best Children’s book.

(Some of the comments about Facebook are from: Article on Facebook by Jessica Bakeman, Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 1, 2011)

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