My school librarian was the best. I didn't know it at the time, but what she did for me is something that not every librarian can do or is even willing to do. From the time I learned to read towards the end of second grade, I would go to the library week after week. I dropped my book into the bin by the door and she would greet me. I'd head over to wherever she was so that we could talk about what I was going to read next. Sometimes she had been waiting for me to come back so that she could put a specific book into my hands. Other times, she'd ask me what I was in the mood for. She was the best literary matchmaker I have ever encountered. Ever.
The years went by and I learned my way around that library. To this day, I can picture the layout in my mind. Now that I'm working in a library, I find myself walking the stacks of the library from my past in my mind in order to find the perfect book to put into the hands of readers that come to the counter asking me for recommendations. The shelves where what came to be my favorite authors' books lived live on in my mind waiting to be revisited so that I can pluck the title off the shelf to introduce someone else to the words I was so excited about all those years ago.
I'll never forget following Mrs. W over to a new area of the library to meet what was sure to become my next obsession. She'd say, "Have you read ____ yet?" and I'd say that I didn't think so. Her eyes would light up and she would lead me to the shelf where their books were stored. She'd pull one off and put it in my hands and then leave me to decide for myself. When I finished that book, I'd go straight back to the shelf to pick another one. I loved knowing that I had a whole shelf of books to make my way through.
I still get excited over discovering a new author. When I find one I especially enjoy, I like to read all of their books that I can get my hands on. I was always especially excited when the author had a series to their name. I still find myself craving a good series to get lost in more often than not. There's just something really good about meeting characters that get more than one book in which to come to life in.
Years ago Becky posted about how her teenage daughter was LOVING The Maze Runner series. The cover of the first book looked intriguing and reminded me of several of the covers of books that I had loved when I was about the age her daughter was. I filed the series away as a good one to read someday. Fast forward a year or two and I found myself watching the first movie in the series over Christmas break with our friends in GA. It convinced me that, yes, I really did need to read the books. Several more years went by and I met someone who gave me the final push I needed to get around to reading these books that I've been meaning to read for so long.
It turned into a challenge...I learned that another movie has been made since then and that the final movie is coming out in February. I told myself that if I read the books, I could watch the movies. I set the goal of making my way through the series BEFORE the final movie made it to theatres. Over the last few weeks, I made good on that promise to myself and now I'm here to finally collect my thoughts about this series all in one place.
Whew. That was a lot to get out. I hope you're still tracking with me and I didn't loose you with my ode to Mrs. W. You ready to talk about The Maze Runner? I hope so...because I'm just getting started!
The Maze Runner // If the movie hadn't been as good as I remember it being and my friend hadn't stood by these books saying that they're a little lame, but really worth it, I definitely would have given up on this one. The way the boys were talking to one another was driving me crazy. It was foolishness to the max and I didn't really care about any of them. Dashner was taking sooooo long to the get the story off the ground that things were hardly happening. I stuck it out, but only under great duress.
Somewhere around the 200 page mark, something switched. I don't know if Dashner found his sweet spot or what, but there was a definite shift in the book and I read the last half of it in no time at all. I was hooked! I wanted to know where these characters had come from and who they were and how they knew each other. When the book ended, I could not wait to get my hands on the next one. I took back every harsh word.
The Scorch Trials // This book was by far my favorite in the series. I flew through it. It held very little that disappointed me. Now, I don't know if this is because my friend warned me that things got more lame than they already were or if it's because this book truly was better. With the exception of the section on Crank Town (no spoilers here), the pacing of this book didn't include any lollygagging. Things moved right along and I kept having to remind myself that everything that was happening was happening over the course of a very short period of time.
The characters were coming to life. They had actual decisions to make. Decisions that required serious thought and came with pretty high stakes. The tables turned and turned and turned. When you thought you had something or someone figured out, you realized just how little you actually had to be sure of.
The Death Cure // Then, came the book that I liked only a little more than the first book. Like Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia before it, the book that I didn't particularly enjoy is the one that came with the words that challenged me most. This is the book that I copied several quotes down out of. All the while, my friend's words kept running through my mind. Pushing me forward and serving as the reminder that I still had something to figure out, that the story was far from over. The phrase "WICKED is good" was just something that I couldn't wrap my mind around.
The thing about this series that is so far removed from anything we will (hopefully) ever have to go through or can even relate to is that, like so much of great fiction, it relates to reality in a way that stopped me in my tracks. As I read about the horrific things going on in this world Dashner created, I couldn't help but see the parallels to our own world. I kept thinking about the questions we ask in the middle of suffering. I couldn't help but think about how our own minds respond and function in the wake of devastating tragedies. There was purpose in everything just the way there is purpose here. Dashner never mentioned God, but I saw Him in the pages of these books. They read like Ecclesiastes and put feet on the desperation that we are all so familiar with when our trust is not resting firmly in God and His providence.
My final words: The Maze Runner is so much more than a bunch of shuck-faced shanks being tortured to the point of turning into cruel Cranks who are out for blood. Wrapping your mind around what they're going through may surprise you with what it has to teach you about what carrying on actually takes.
Have you read this series?
What's one series you've been meaning to read for a while?