The Maze Runner - James Dashner Preamble: I apologize up front about the spoilers in this review. They are hidden, but if you don't want to know some of the spoilers, don't click on them! Fair warning!

Review: I read this at the encouragement of one of my kids, who dearly loves this book. So let me state right up front, buddy, I'm glad you loved this book. Now I'm going to express my opinion. Please remember that we're all allowed to have our opinions, even if mine is wrong.

Now, I didn't hate The Maze Runner by any means. But I didn't love it either. It was . . . likable. Likeable, but not loveable. Perhaps I'm just too jaded to really appreciate YA fiction (though I did love The Amulet of Samarkand. Speaking of which, I really need to reread it and write a review). Maybe I'm getting too old to appreciate YA characters (though I really connected with Ender of Ender's Game).

In any case, I think the real problem is that Dashner got some things backwards. I was frankly put off by the blatant foreshadowing or, more appropriately, "backshadowing" that Dashner used like a blunt object to hit readers over the head with information. The memory-wipe trick that provides so much of the impetus for the plot could have been carefully employed to maneuver the reader's thoughts and emotions into place for a brilliant ending. But I felt that Dashner used it as a cheap parlor trick.

He also misses the opportunity to really make the reader care deeply about Thomas and Teresa's relationship, not to mention the relationship between Thomas and Chuck, whose death did very little to tug at my emotional heartstrings when I wanted to be ripped apart with grief. Rather than allowing Thomas to love deeply and passionately, which would have endeared readers to him (and others), the memory trick got in the way of us getting to know and love him, flattening him out as a character.

The plot itself is strange and intriguing. Because this is the first book in a series, I found the ending unsatisfactory. I sort of want to read the next book, since I'd like to understand some of the mysteries, and I want to give Dashner the chance to redeem himself, but time being what it is, I'm not rushing to the bookstore to add the sequel to my TBR pile.

I suspect that if you're willing to go the distance, and if you're not an over-educated snob like me, you might love this book. Again, I'm not in love with it, but I'm in like with it. Maybe, some date in the future, if/when I read the sequels, I might bump the star rating up. But for the meantime, The Maze Runner remains stuck in the maze at 3 stars.