"THE MAZE RUNNER," by James Dashner, Delacorte Press, 384 pages, $16.99 (young adult)
BYU graduate James Dashner may have started out in accounting, but his true talent is his skill as a writer.
This Utah author, who already has six books under his belt, is set to make it big with his latest foray into young adult science fiction.
"The Maze Runner," which hits bookstore shelves Tuesday, Oct. 6, is a thrilling adventure that will get readers' hearts pumping and leave them asking for more.
The day Thomas begins his new life, the only thing he can remember is his name. Waking up alone in a lightless elevator, Thomas doesn't know how he got there. His memory has been wiped clean.
But Thomas is anything but alone. When the ceiling doors of the elevator open, Thomas is literally pulled into a new world — welcome to the Glade.
The Glade is a large expanse similar to a working farm enclosed by enormous stone walls. There are no adults, just 50 or 60 boys ranging from midteens to young adult.
Like Thomas, the boys, who call themselves Gladers, have no memory of life before the Glade, and they have no idea why they're there. All they do know is they want to go home, and to do that, they have to solve the maze.
For as long as anyone can remember, the large stone doors that lead to the maze have opened every morning and are shut tight at night. The Gladers know the maze is the key to their escape, but there are dangerous creatures that live there, and no one has survived a night shut in the maze.
Life in the Glade is like clockwork — sunrise, work, delivery of supplies and, once a month, the delivery of a new boy. It's a routine the Gladers have come to expect, so when a girl is sent up the day after Thomas arrives, the boys can't help but be shocked.
There's never been a girl in the Glade before, and this one has brought a surprising message. The Gladers have always thought the maze was solvable, but now nothing is certain.
People begin to wonder if Thomas and the girl are somehow connected, and though Thomas denies it, he can't shake the feeling that he somehow knows her.
Somewhere on the periphery of his consciousness, Thomas knows he has the answers to the maze and getting everyone home. It's up to him to find the answers, but the path is dangerous and so are the answers.
"The Maze Runner" starts out a bit slow, the pace echoes Thomas' confusion as he emerges from the box. But as Thomas settles in, the tempo picks up. It's almost as if Dashner is easing the reader into what becomes fast-paced, nonstop action.
Dashner walks a fine line, giving readers just enough to keep them interested while holding back and not giving too much away. His ability to create suspense in both big and small moments is telling of his talent.
The only drawback to "The Maze Runner" is Dashner's fictionalized slang. While it feels realistic and fits with his characters, it gets old pretty fast. On the plus side, however, it's used so often that the reader almost becomes desensitized and learns to ignore it.
Though it's clear by the epilogue that there's more to this story, "The Maze Runner" does have a strong beginning, middle and end, making it fine as a standalone or as part of a planned series.
If you go…
Who: James Dashner
What: "The Maze Runner"
When: Oct. 6, 5 p.m.
Where: King's English
Where: 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
For more information on other upcoming Dashner events, visit www.randomhouse.com/authorWho: James Dashner