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Q&A | February 27, 2014

Rene Denfeld: IMG Powell’s Q&A: Rene Denfeld

Describe your latest book. The Enchanted is a story narrated by a man on death row. The novel was inspired by my work as a death penalty... Continue »
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    The Enchanted

    Rene Denfeld 9780062285508


The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Trilogy #01)


The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Trilogy #01) Cover




Chapter 1

He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.

Metal ground against metal; a lurching shudder shook the floor beneath him. He fell down at the sudden movement and shuffled backward on his hands and feet, drops of sweat beading on his forehead despite the cool air. His back struck a hard metal wall; he slid along it until he hit the corner of the room. Sinking to the floor, he pulled his legs up tight against his body, hoping his eyes would soon adjust to the darkness.

With another jolt, the room jerked upward like an old lift in a mine shaft.

Harsh sounds of chains and pulleys, like the workings of an ancient steel factory, echoed through the room, bouncing off the walls with a hollow, tinny whine. The lightless elevator swayed back and forth as it ascended, turning the boy's stomach sour with nausea; a smell like burnt oil invaded his senses, making him feel worse. He wanted to cry, but no tears came; he could only sit there, alone, waiting.

My name is Thomas, he thought.

That... that was the only thing he could remember about his life.

He didn't understand how this could be possible. His mind functioned without flaw, trying to calculate his surroundings and predicament. Knowledge flooded his thoughts, facts and images, memories and details of the world and how it works. He pictured snow on trees, running down a leaf-strewn road, eating a hamburger, the moon casting a pale glow on a grassy meadow, swimming in a lake, a busy city square with hundreds of people bustling about their business.

And yet he didn't know where he came from, or how he'd gotten inside the dark lift, or who his parents were. He didn't even know his last name. Images of people flashed across his mind, but there was no recognition, their faces replaced with haunted smears of color. He couldn't think of one person he knew, or recall a single conversation.

The room continued its ascent, swaying; Thomas grew immune to the ceaseless rattling of the chains that pulled him upward. A long time passed. Minutes stretched into hours, although it was impossible to know for sure because every second seemed an eternity. No. He was smarter than that. Trusting his instincts, he knew he'd been moving for roughly half an hour.

Strangely enough, he felt his fear whisked away like a swarm of gnats caught in the wind, replaced by an intense curiosity. He wanted to know where he was and what was happening.

With a groan and then a clonk, the rising room halted; the sudden change jolted Thomas from his huddled position and threw him across the hard floor. As he scrambled to his feet, he felt the room sway less and less until it finally stilled. Everything fell silent.

A minute passed. Two. He looked in every direction but saw only darkness; he felt along the walls again, searching for a way out. But there was nothing, only the cool metal. He groaned in frustration; his echo amplified through the air, like the haunted moan of death. It faded, and silence returned. He screamed, called for help, pounded on the walls with his fists.


Thomas backed into the corner once again, folded his arms and shivered, and the fear returned. He felt a worrying shudder in his chest, as if his heart wanted to escape, to flee his body.

"Someone... help... me!" he screamed; each word ripped his throat raw.

A loud clank rang out above him and he sucked in a startled breath as he looked up. A straight line of light appeared across the ceiling of the room, and Thomas watched as it expanded. A heavy grating sound revealed double sliding doors being forced open. After so long in darkness, the light stabbed his eyes; he looked away, covering his face with both hands.

He heard noises above--voices--and fear squeezed his chest.

"Look at that shank."

"How old is he?"

"Looks like a klunk in a T-shirt."

"You're the klunk, shuck-face."

"Dude, it smells like feet down there!"

"Hope you enjoyed the one-way trip, Greenie."

"Ain't no ticket back, bro."

Thomas was hit with a wave of confusion, blistered with panic. The voices were odd, tinged with echo; some of the words were completely foreign--others felt familiar. He willed his eyes to adjust as he squinted toward the light and those speaking. At first he could see only shifting shadows, but they soon turned into the shapes of bodies--people bending over the hole in the ceiling, looking down at him, pointing.

And then, as if the lens of a camera had sharpened its focus, the faces cleared. They were boys, all of them--some young, some older. Thomas didn't know what he'd expected, but seeing those faces puzzled him. They were just teenagers. Kids. Some of his fear melted away, but not enough to calm his racing heart.

Someone lowered a rope from above, the end of it tied into a big loop. Thomas hesitated, then stepped into it with his right foot and clutched the rope as he was yanked toward the sky. Hands reached down, lots of hands, grabbing him by his clothes, pulling him up. The world seemed to spin, a swirling mist of faces and color and light. A storm of emotions wrenched his gut, twisted and pulled; he wanted to scream, cry, throw up. The chorus of voices had grown silent, but someone spoke as they yanked him over the sharp edge of the dark box. And Thomas knew he'd never forget the words.

"Nice to meet ya, shank," the boy said. "Welcome to the Glade."

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lilianxcheng, July 12, 2012 (view all comments by lilianxcheng)
The Maze Runner thrives on the suspense and the fantastical setting. Just like Thomas, the protagonist, we are thrown into the Glade being just as (if not more) confused as him. The technology, the creatures, the absurdity of the situation was like a video game as we follow Thomas on his journey to solving it. The pace was fine, Dashner knows how to keep my attention with action. But one of the biggest issues are the characters: especially Thomas, who despite his bravery doesn't seem like a smart guy; he only "solves" the whole thing by relying on past memories. However, The Maze Runner is comprised with many surprising elements that draw me into the story, keeping me reading to find out how the pieces fit together. An exciting (even if dark) story of a group of teenagers trying to solve their way out of a dire situation.

Thomas wakes up in an elevator and is led to The Glade, a town of only boys surrounded by a Maze. There are also monsters that lurk the Maze at night, so that nobody is allowed out of The Glade after the walls close. Every week, supplies are sent from the elevator, and every month a new boy is sent. There are different jobs: farmers, cooks, police officers, janitors, etc. And then there are the Runners, a group of elite Gladers sent to run in the maze everyday to find an exit. The Maze changes everyday, and for two years, an exit hasn't been found. Thomas feels strongly tied to being a Runner, but before think about it-a girl comes up in the elevator.

The Gladers have their own slang, which I suspect might be a way to bypass swearing for a novel targeted towards young teens. The abundance of strange words bogs down the story a bit and leaves me in complete confusion in the first chapter. The slang could have been used a bit less so the reader has a stronger grasp of what's going on. If anything, it sounded like the boys were using the slang to intimidate people. Gradually we begin to know what words stand for and it becomes less of a distraction. However, I am not sure why they start creating slang that makes them sound like cavemen even though they all know English. If you are fine with the slang in Moira Young's Blood Red Road, The Maze Runner's language won't faze you.

There's no gore, but there are a LOT of deaths. Thankfully, their deaths usually don't arise from unnecessary fighting. The Gladers generally know they have to work together, and killing one of their own is just not helping the situation.

I am confused as to why The Maze Runner is written in third person limited instead of first person. Obviously we can't have such a suspenseful story in third person omniscient: there wouldn't be any secrets if the narrator is supposed to know everything. We only get follow Thomas and knows what he knows, but the third person stance leaves me unable to understand Thomas. I want to know what is going inside his head. Because of the narrator, the other characters, although many of them likable, don't get enough depth.

Thomas: Protagonist and one of the reasons why The Maze Runner has a slow start: it's because he SO CONFUSED, with so many questions. HOLD YOUR HORSES AND WAIT FOR THEM TO EXPLAIN, DUDE! Makes me want to yell at him to stop interrupting the story with his questions. He is like the annoying kid in class that doesn't know when to shut up. I know why his peers ignore him half the time now. It just might be a guy thing, or a sign of his natural curiosity. I applaud his bravery, his intelligence, but I expected more to solving everything than just remembering stuff. A bit of a let down to be honest. Despite his talkative, curious nature, his determined demeanor makes him a good leader--and one of his best traits.

Teresa: Maybe my head was in the gutter, but one girl amongst like forty guys...wouldn't you be expecting them to procreate? Anyway, she still remains pretty much a mystery. I want to like her, but I don't know her. Thomas and Teresa share a connection, but whether it's romantic or not, I don't know.

Minho: A supporting character and the Keeper of the Maze Runners. He is also my favorite character (maybe it's because he is Asian? I love supporting minorities.) Unlike Thomas, he is less optimistic, but a strong leader nonetheless.

Newt: Despite the ridiculous nickname, he is a charismatic leader. He is more calmer one in the group. I definitely like him more than Thomas as well.

The "monsters" that make the Maze so scary. When they were first introduced I thought they were like gigantic buffalos (since they were ramming windows)...but it turns up they are just six feet long, mechanized, ugly slugs. Actually now that I imagine it, they seem ridiculous. I rather have a buffalo. They can kill, and sometimes sting to give someone flashbacks. I am puzzled with the flashbacks for they seem to be an intentional product of the Grievers. If it was intentional, they wouldn't be built with those needles in the first place, right? But if the needles were intentional, then why brainwash everyone? But if the flashback needles were un-intentional, why create the needles and stick them in the Grievers?

GIVE ME MY ANSWERS! I'm feeling a bit cheated right now (even though I know it's a strategy to get me to continue the series.) The Maze Runner gives me these half-answers that don't quite tell me why people would waste so much time and money on such a elaborate maze. Do people have nothing better to do? SPOILER ALERT: So you waste two years conducting this thing when you could just gather them all to work together? Aren't more brains better than a few traumatized ones? (or worse yet, the murderous ones?)

Overall, I did like the suspense, the world-building. But I am disappointed that my curiosity wasn't quenched: the answers given just left me with even more questions. I hope I will get some logical answers in the sequel, and all this stuff isn't just introduced for the heck of it.
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Jemima, November 17, 2009 (view all comments by Jemima)
Dashner has created a strange but believable world that captured my interest and kept me reading.The Maze Runner sets up a very suspenseful story with an end-of-the-world type theme. At first it seems that the action is confined to trying to solve a maze, but by the end of the novel the setting has broadened and new mysteries are hinted at. I look forward to reading the next installment and finding out what is going on. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes suspenseful science fiction and particularly to teenage boys: what with the heroic young male protagonist, the spots of blood and gore plus the mysteries to solve, it is a great choice for them.
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CC, November 16, 2009 (view all comments by CC)
An excellent YA novel and such a page turner! James Dashner has created an eerie blend of "Lord of the Flies" and "Hunger Games". I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a fast-paced can't put down book.
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Product Details

Dashner, James
Delacorte Press
de La Cruz, Melissa
John, Antony
Johnston, Michael
Miller, Kirsten
Cruz, Melissa de La
Terry, Teri
Science fiction
Visionary & metaphysical
Boys / Men
Social Issues - Friendship
Social Issues - General
Action & Adventure
Science & Technology
Edition Description:
The Maze Runner Series
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 7
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:

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Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Friendship
Young Adult » General

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Trilogy #01) New Hardcover
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$16.99 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers - English 9780385737944 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Dashner (the 13th Reality series) offers up a dark and gripping tale of survival set in a world where teenagers fight for their lives on a daily basis. It starts when Thomas, a teenage amnesiac, wakes up in the Glade, a fragile oasis in the middle of an enormous maze. Here, a group of teenage boys eke out a hazardous existence, exploring the Maze by day and retreating to the Glade at night. No one knows how they got there; no one has ever found a way out ('Old life's over, new life's begun. Learn the rules quick,' the group's leader tells Thomas). Bizarre technological monsters called Grievers patrol the Maze's corridors, almost certain death for any who encounter them. Thomas struggles to regain his memories, but the arrival of a young woman with an ominous message changes the rules of the game. With a fast-paced narrative steadily answering the myriad questions that arise and an ever-increasing air of tension, Dashner's suspenseful adventure will keep readers guessing until the very end, which paves the way for the inevitable continuation. Ages 12 — up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , US
"Synopsis" by ,
From New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston comes this remarkable first book in a spellbinding new series about the dawn of a new kind of magic.

Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.


At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say its a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, its a place where Nat wont be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.


But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.


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