The Maze Runner Trilogy: [genericon icon=star color=gold repeat=4 size=2x][genericon icon=star color=grey size=2x]
tl;dr: It’s a nice way to spend a Saturday.
Confession: I’ve never actually watched “The Walking Dead” nor have I read the comics. However the Maze Runner trilogy starts out where a kid knows his name, knows how to talk, and has a massive, massive, hole in his memory. So does everyone else, though, all 60-odd boys. They live a crazy, but routine, life, where they’ve come up with structure and rules and roles. It’s like how the kids in “Lord of the Flies” wanted to be, or maybe how I wanted it to be as a kid. I wanted to believe those kids could find their humanity.
These ones, for the most part, do. Every week they get supplies from the box, and every two months, they get a new ‘kid’ and this has been going on for 2 years, with a base start of 40 kids. So why are there only 60-odd fellows? Oh, that would be the Grievers, which try to kill you in the maze which surrounds the camp. At first I thought it was going to be some weird Hunger Games/Rollerball crap, where the kids are being exploited for ‘fun’ but as it turns out I was wrong.
The kids are (or were) in on it. This is where the story got weird, but cleverly not too bogged down by pseudo science.
It was in the moment that I realized the kids were in on it that I thought “Ah, this is what Divergent strived for, and missed.” James Dashner quickly skips around the ‘how’ of the science with a handwave of “It’s not important here, moving on.” and when you reach the end of the first book and the kids have escaped and you think “That was too easy…” you are immediately confirmed that yes, it was, and it’s a set up, and they are watching the children for ‘something.’
The second book dragged, but it did a good job of keeping me invested in the main character, such that when they did ‘break the rules’ to save him, I understood plot wise why it was a necessity. I will say, I like to read books (and watch dramas) as if I’m watching Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day play a table-top RPG adventure. I was watching “Orphan Black” and when Donnie shot [redacted] I laughed and said “Someone rolled a 0 and then a 20!” The ‘feel’ of The Maze Runner Trilogy was that, yes, these kids are the players and the unseen Chancellor is the GM, and they make amusing calls.
Dislike: The group name of WICKED sounds like something kids would make up, which makes sense at some point in the story, but is still stupid. I’m sorry, but grown-ups do not name things “the BatPlane” they call them the “SR-71 Blackbird” … Oh. I guess they do. But still, WICKED is annoying and pulled me out of the plot a few times.
Like: There’s also a surprisingly deep kakfaesqueness about the character development, and the twists at the ends of the books are more confirmation than anything else. The whole concept of “What makes me ME?” was well played, and having some characters decide one way and others another felt right to who they all were. The fear of “If I get my memory back, do I stop being the me I am today?” rang true, and the other fear of “I don’t like who I was, will I have to be that?” was honest.
Meh: Not too much actually. Unlike both Divergent and Hunger Games, the second book (setup book) wasn’t an elephant headwagger, as my wife would say. It wasn’t fast and action packed (well … it was) and it literally had the kids tromping through the desert, but much like how “Empire Strikes Back” holds up best of the three movies, this one gave us backstory and set-up we wanted and didn’t feel like filler. Far too often, people do a trilogy that makes you wish it had just been a duo, or one really long book.
There’s a prequel I’ve not yet read, don’t know if I will, but the book touches on the backstory, which I actually really liked. Solar Flares freak people out, government fuck up releases chemical warfare agent, people turn into zombies (complete with flesh eating), and some are immune. Oh and you don’t know if you are.
Seriously, if that was the set up for a roleplaying game, I’d be so in there.