Stories are teachers that entertain and inspire. We are storytellers all of us.
I read James Dashner's The Maze Runner because I knew the film version was coming out in theaters in 2014. For the other book-to-movie transitions happening this year, I'm doubtful the latter can top the former (including for the upcoming The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent) since a novel's dynamic character building can often fall flat in a two-hour blockbuster. But in The Maze Runner's case, I hope it's an exception. In fact, I hope it goes above and beyond the book.
After recently reading The Age of Miracles and the Divergent series, I realized how much I truly enjoy dystopian fiction. The backdrop of a uniquely troubled world that grapples with themes still universal is intriguing. Yet how the reader perceives that world is usually offered through the lens of a protagonist that we can relate to in some way. In The Maze Runner, however, we are missing that lens because the protagonist has no memory of himself or the existing world. In fact, I struggled to get a good sense of any of the characters, except for perhaps Chuck. As a reader, who do I trust to explain the world to me?
At first, it seems an interesting route to learn everything there is to know as the character learns it, but due to the fact that all of the characters are in a similar boat (or refuse to answer questions), we are left clueless for most of the book. And when we finally reach the climax – where the reality of their troubled world is revealed – it feels rushed in a stream of information conveyed through the character's sudden memory, a source that we had not been introduced to over time (and thus lacks authenticity). By the end, key motivations remain unanswered or inadequate, at least from my point of view.
So here's hoping the movie fills in the character gaps, has a stronger build-up toward the climax, and utilizes music and visual subtleties to stir more emotional investment than I could gather during my page-turning.