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.