This is one of those books where what you see is what you get. The premise is straight forward, delivered in a straightforward way, and the ending is absolutely expected.
The premise here is that our protagonist Thomas wakes up in an elevator not knowing who he is (beyond his name) or why he is in said elevator. The elevator dumps him off in “The Glade” a small colony made up of about 50 boys or so that live in this glade surrounded by a large maze. The one who run it, “The Creators” send them supplies once a week and they have running water and electricity which they use to run a full fledged farm while Runners go into the maze trying to solve it (but never doing so). His arrival throws the colony into chaos as some have vague senses that they know who he is and is somehow evil, and even beyond that the next day a girl arrives stating she is the last one. The thrust of the book, of course, is trying to find a way out and figure out who “The Creators” are.
Honestly, in a premise like this you don’t have too many scenarios for who could be responsible: usually some kind of government or private corporation or something along those lines. I won’t spoil who did it or why, but you won’t be terribly shocked by the ending.
As for characterization: the kids…they’re there. They aren’t total cardboard cutouts, though I wouldn’t say they’re much beyond that either. Thomas feels an affinity for another character named Chuck and I never got the sense that that affinity was earned, that it’s there because it wanted to show Thomas was human and a good guy at heart (which is relevant plot wise).
As for the lone female character Teresa, I still don’t get why she had to be female or have the gift she had. The entire colony was male, and there was nothing about what she did that made her have to be female. The only conclusion I can come to is that he intends for a romance in one of the later books. The gift that she and Thomas share remain unexplained by the end of the book causing it to ultimately feel like a Deus Ex Machina device.
Finally, the author decided that he wanted to swear. But this is a young adult novel where such things are frowned upon so instead of shit you have “klunk” (the sound it makes when it hits the water) and instead of fuck you have “shuck.” It’s freaking distracting. More distracting than had he just used the words that he clearly wanted to. There are a few other slang words sprinkled in, so you could make the argument that he was trying to show that the boys had developed their own language, but I stand by my original assessment.
At the end of the day, this book wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t remarkable or particularly memorable either. I wasn’t in a rush to pick it back up, but when I did I finished it easily. It’s just I won’t be going after the other books in the series.
If the premise intrigues you and you’ve got nothing else going on it might be worth a look.
Verdict: Borrow it.