Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.
Reading this book, I could see exactly how and why it became a classic of modern YA. Thomas is by far the strongest lead male character I've come across; he feels authentic, real. And the Stephen King influence (Dashner has said that his teens were spent reading King, and that the fascination with the maze itself comes from Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining) is strong, both in setting and character; Thomas' and Teresa's psychic link reminded me of something King would write, and the dynamic between the boys was reminiscent of something like, say, The Long Walk.
It's not without problems. I know most readers have difficulty with the cursing in particular. It didn't bother me, not in conception; I agree with Dashner, that you couldn't have a group of boys together with none of them swearing. It's actually in the execution. This is very nit-picky of me, but klunk and shuck looked too alike to me when I was reading, and I felt like they were inconsistently used against their real-life counterparts. (Shut the klunk up? Really? Has anyone ever said 'shut the shit up'?)
But that really is the smallest argument. I loved actually reading something written in third-person; I felt it let the atmosphere build more naturally, opening the world up, still seeing it as new through Thomas' eyes, but also getting the other boys' opinions. The world feels lived in, like, say, Star Wars did; worn in, a bit beat-up. And while it's not a horror novel, the horror and suspense is palpable (again, King's influence, I think). The Grievers are horrifying--aside from just being monsters in the visceral sense, they the ability to turn someone into what they are not and turn them against one another--and the maze itself menaces.
Thomas' revelation as to his and Teresa's part in the maze is both surprising (in the author's willingness to go there) and natural, when you think that there's no way he could have been anything else but the bad guy.
I bought the set of four books, and do not regret the purchase! There's a ton on my to-be-read right now, but I'm looking forward to finding a moment to start Scorch Trials!