When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.James Dashner does a little bit of amazing with this book. He uses a whole lot of trickery, in the best of ways, to keep the reader reading. You know those books with the impossibly short chapters that leave you saying "just one more, it's short"? This is one of those books! The chapters are so quick, I found myself reading on and on until I was halfway through the book. How very sneaky, Mr Dashner.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.
Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.
Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.
The book itself is nothing short of awesome. In the beginning, the reader knows just as much of what's going on as the main character, Thomas, does. Thomas wakes up with his memory wiped and has to learn how to survive. I truly enjoyed learning about the Glade and the Maze where these boys live through the eyes of Thomas who also is figuring out why he's there. The characters are very likeable because they seem real. Every single one of them has a flaw and complexity to them even if they don't have any memories outside of the Maze. The setting is superb! The Maze feels so eerie and dangerous while the Glade feels like home.
The beginning of this book may seem slow to readers who like to completely immerse themselves straight from the first page. As Thomas knows nothing, it does take a long time for him and the readers to catch their bearings. I personally found this experience intriguing, but I understand that it's not for everyone.
Readers may compare the book to The Hunger Games, but I don't see that many similarities. Sure, there are a bunch of teenagers, but they're trying to solve a maze, not kill each other for someone else's amusement. I feel like there is a complexity and mystery about it that the Hunger Games doesn't have, as the maze is a giant puzzle. Nonetheless, it still is a great read for fans of the Hunger Games who enjoyed the action of the arena.