‘The Maze Runner,’ etc.

If your teens, or you yourself, are currently reading James Dashner’s The Maze Runner and its sequels instead of my books–hey, c’mon, what’s the matter with you?

I just finished The Maze Runner, and I’ll steer well clear of the sequels, thank you. Your family should, too.

Dashner is one of those authors who writes down to young readers, perhaps in the belief that anything much more than a text message will totally defeat their understanding. There’s something about writing “ya” for “you,” over and over and over again, that really annoys me.

Published in 2009, Maze Runner may most economically be described as a poor man’s Hunger Games. Dashner creates a dreary, hopeless, dystopian world and spends 62 chapters torturing his characters. I wonder if he likes to pull the wings off flies.

If you’re a teenager reading this, don’t get upset by what I say next: hear me out. You may find yourself agreeing with me.

Some young people have a melodramatic, morbidly self-pitying streak (which most of them naturally grow out of) that needs no extra feeding. Not that novels for young readers ought to be sappy, syrupy, everybody-feels-good-all-the-time–I am sure mine aren’t. But the unrelieved, toiling dreariness of books like Maze Runner and Hunger Games are of that simple-minded school that confuses ugliness with realism. Eventually teens who are willing to listen to this claptrap gain enough experience in life to realize that beauty, goodness, love, and truth are real, too. But for the time being, I fail to see the point of a writer purposely creating more ugliness than already exists.


6 comments on “‘The Maze Runner,’ etc.

  1. Your books are great but, perhaps, the Narnia tales which have been so lauded as to have gotten front and center so that folks will read them would be a good way to intrduce them to better reading. (Mr. Duigon, you have given us a great series. I love them!)

    THEN,having tasted C. S. Lewis, they’ll, hopefully, be willing to try a new author. The Bell Mountain series you have been writing ARE worth reading; I know because I’ve already re-read the first two! And I’ve just ordered a new set so I can have extras to give away! I’m hoping to read the two last sequals while visiting my son who works during the day thereby giving me time to “do my own thing.” This includes reading the wonderful biography of John Locke by Mary Elaine Swanson, another great read but a little challenging for grade school readers.

    Parents! get the Bell Mountain series for your children. They’ll love the exciting, keep you on your toes adventure. AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THEIR RUINING YOUR CHILDRENS’ CHARACTER IN THE MEANTIME!

    P. S. Thank you, Mr. Duigon for the snow-show! Very clever.

    Hey, how about recommending another book haled as one that “should be on everyones book shelf” by all its readers, including Dr. George Grant?

    1. Music to my ears, Dorothy–music to my ears.

      BTW, I’ve just finished reading Swanson’s book on Locke, and have been laboring to write a review. It was a very meaty and persuasive book, but I can’t say it’s easy reading.

      Meanwhile, if you check this blog’s archives, I’ve posted quite a few remarks about Narnia. (They’d be easier to find if I’d known how to tag them properly while I was writing them–but live and learn.) I’d be most interested to read your thoughts on “the missing Narnia book.”

      Funny you should mention George Grant–I’ve been assigned to interview him soon.

      To what particular book are you referring, in your last sentence?

  2. You make a great point, Lee. There is abundant ugliness in this world. Here in the US, we are not exposed to much of the world’s horrors, but believe me they are out there. (Twice in the last 15 years, I have driven past traffic accidents that claimed the lives of numerous immigrants stuffed into the back of a pickup truck. In the Middle East, things much worse that that happen daily.)

    Ive heard the plot of The Hunger Games and have no interest in seeing the movie. It is a celebration of death and vulgarity, nothing less. My tastes have always been tame, but in the last year or so I have disposed of a number of movies from my collection because I came to see them as needlessly ugly takes on life.

    I will chime in that the Bell Mountain series does not dwell on ugliness. When the villains die, they leave without excruciating detail, rapidly dispatched, frequently because of being in the wrong place at the right time. No blood, no guts, no belabored descriptions of suffering. The cause of goodness wins and characters with a working moral compass comprise the heroes. It’s good stuff.

    One thing I love about this blog is that the beauty in life always shines through. Animal videos restore our hearts.

  3. We started to watch the movie version of “The Maze Runner” but gave it up in a hurry. We did get hooked on the “Hunger Games,” probably by the good acting in it. As bad as things are in the world today, they were a lot worse in the past. The average lifespan in the 13 colonies was 15 (and where would you go if you had needed a root canal?).

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