Dashner, James. The Maze Runner. Random House (Delacorte Press), 2009.
Thomas is the newest arrival to the Glade, a compound where preteen and teenage boys are fending for themselves and creating a life with no adults. Up to the time he arrives in the mysterious lift (called The Box), a new Glader just like Thomas has arrived every month, with no recollection of his previous life and no information about himself except his first name. It happens once a month like clockwork – until 1) another person comes through The Box the very next day who is 2) a girl and 3) is clutching a note that says, “She’s the last one. Ever.”
The Glade, thus far, has proven inescapable. It’s surrounded by a giant maze that changes every day. A team of eight Runners goes out each day to try and find an exit, but none has been found and the Runners are beginning to think it’s unsolvable. Thomas wants to be a Runner even though he’s new to the Glade, and the presence of the girl is making him think he might have some answers if he could just get to his memories.
The Maze Runner is a terrific follow-up recommendation for kids who are reading the Hunger Games series, with some similar themes of beating the system and sticking it to the man. There’s lots of action here and while the author classifies himself as a fantasy writer, I think sci-fi readers would enjoy it as well. I will say this: I hated the ending, but it is the first in a series (The Scorch Trials is due out in a couple of months, and we can only hope it has some answers in it).