Category: Dystopian Fiction

The Maze Runner

When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone. He’s surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade – a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze. Like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they came to be there – or what’s happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything – even the Grievers, half-machine, half-animal horror that patrol its corridors, to try and find out.

indexOk, so I know what you’re thinking – not another teenage dystopian novel! Well, yes it is, but do you know what? you really should give it a chance because if you are a fan of The Hunger Games or the Divergent trilogy then this book is definitely for you.  Different enough to keep your interest, but still sticking to the tried and tested and seemingly ever popular model of the dystopian novel, the first book in the Maze Runner series will have you gripped from the very first page.

Thomas arrives in the Glade in a metal box, unsure of how or why he is there. The last of the boys to be planted in the Glade he must help the others try to crack the Maze and think of a way to get past the deadly Grievers. He knows he is special, but with no memory, only minor, confusing flashbacks, he is unable to work out his part in this strange world.

Suspicions start to arise in the other Gladers, when the metal box delivers their first girl, Teresa, who although unconscious, holds a note informing them ‘she’s the last one’ and shouts out Thomas’s name before passing out again. Reminiscent of William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, the boys start to let their paranoias take over, resulting in arguments and power shifts as they  struggle to understand their position and purpose within the group. The charcaters of Alby;  the natural leader of the group and, as it later emerges, the very first boy to be brought into the Glade, along with Newt; second in command, Minho; the Keeper of the Runners, Chuck; Thomas’s faithful 12 year old companion,  Thomas and Teresa have all been written with such strong, believable characteristics that it is easy to visualize them and to feel such strong emotions towards them. I found myself literally gripped with every page turn, desperate to read more and find out if there was a way out of the maze.

91uKB96AssL._SY679_James Dashner has written this book, primarily for the teenage market, but more and more of this so called teenage fiction genre is crossing over into the adult readership and is becoming increasingly popular.  Perhaps, it’s because of it’s easy to read structure or maybe because it offers such a visual perspective, which is proving easily transferable to film.  Like November’s book, The Fault in our Stars, The Maze Runner has also been made into a film.  Having enjoyed reading the book so much I was desperate to see the film as I could see how well it should translate onto the big screen.  How wrong could I have been, I was sorely disappointed.  Although, the producers managed to chose their actors wisely they cut out huge sections of the book and altered what I considered to be key factors and important pieces of information that I struggle to see how they are going to justify if they are make the sequels into film versions as well. I will leave it up to you to decide. I would be very interested to hear what you have to say both about the book and about whether you think the film has done the book any justice, so please do leave me a comment.

All I do ask is that you please, please read the book before you see the film, as it truly deserves it’s chance to shine in it’s original and intended form.

I’ve decided to have a bit of a change for next month so watch this space for more info! All that remains to be said is Happy Christmas!

The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay and Katniss Everdeen

Mockingjay Pin BadgeFive years ago, my niece gave me a personalised fingerprint charm keyring with my name etched to it. It melted my heart away and now I could not believe that she’s growing up fast. Every time I look at the keyring, it reminds me of her sweet, angelic smile. This reminded me of the Hunger Games Mockingjay pin badge that Katniss wears during the game to represent District 12. In the Hunger Games, every tribute is permitted to bring one item that reminds them of their family and friends in their respective District. The small pin with the image of the Mockingjay in flight is similar to the personalised fingerprint jewellery that I have. It has so much symbolism in it.

Before Katniss left for the Capitol to join the Hunger Games, the mayor’s daughter, Madge, gave the pin to her. Eventually, Katniss fails to recall the pin while she’s training but her stylist, Cinna, never forgets to put the Mockingjay pin badge on her suit deliberately before she goes to the arena. In book one, he tells Katniss that the pin hardly cleared the review board because they think Katniss might use it as a weapon. Ultimately, we know that there is more to it than meets the eye. It is indeed an extremely influential and significant weapon in a special way.

The Mockingjays have many associations in the story. First, the hybrid birds remind Katniss of her father who was fond of Mockingjays, whistling and singing with them. Second, Katniss’s ally and friend, Rue, uses one of her bird signals to inform Katniss that she is alive and fine. But, the same signal has put Katniss into danger with Rue being held hostage by another tribute from District 1. Rue dies before Katniss gets to save her. Katniss sings a memorial song for Rue and the Mockingjays are heard repeating the tune of Katniss’s song, spreading it throughout the forest.

Finally, the Mockingjay pin signifies a living being with a spirit of its own. The hybrid bird symbolise resistance and rebellion. They are the clear example of creatures that have escaped from the tyranny of the Capitol. They are living proof that the Capitol is incapable of imposing their influence to all beings. As the novel progresses, we see Katniss gradually showing the qualities of a Mockingjay.