The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner - James Dashner

[oblique spoilers ahead]

A is for Apocalypse! A modern craze; a timeless fantasy. What shall bring us to this place? Can there be life after such an event? And if so… what kind of life would that be?

B is for Banzai! “Banzai” is a traditional Japanese exclamation meaning “ten thousand years”. A Banzai charge is a last, desperate charge.

C is for Cube! “Cube” is a 1997 film by Vincenzo Natali. The characters in this film are trapped in a kind of maze, and must pass from one cube-shaped room to another. The characters do not know why they are in this place. They must escape or die.

D is for Despair! As Thomas Jefferson once said: “My theory has always been, that if we are to dream, the flatteries of hope are as cheap, and pleasanter, than the gloom of despair.”

E is for ESP! Extrasensory Perception involves reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses but sensed with the mind. ESP includes TELEPATHY!

F is for Flare! A solar flare is a sudden brightening observed over the Sun's surface, which is interpreted as a large energy release of up to 6 × 1025 joules of energy.

G is for Goethe! Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer and politician. He believed that “in the totality everything redeems itself and appears good and justified” … but do the means justify the ends when it comes to reaching that redemption? A timeless question!

H is for Hybrid! A cross between a giant slug and a killing machine equipped with pincers & needles would be considered a sort of hybrid. Machine-animal hybrids often appear within genres such as science fantasy, steampunk, and the post-apocalyptic young adult adventure novel.

I is for IQ! The Intelligence Quotient is a score derived from standardized testing in order to assess intelligence. Some have questioned its use…

J is for Janissary! As children, the Janissaries were taken from their parents to become elite soldiers in the Ottoman Empire. They revolted against their masters during the “Auspicious Incident” of 1826.

K is for Killing Zone! Strictly speaking, there is no actual “kill zone” in The Maze Runner. But the phrase just really fits.

L is for Lord of the Flies! A bunch of boys stranded in a dangerous environment! They revert into savages! Murder and Mayhem and Malice, Oh My! But why was it so hard for them to maintain their own sort of society, to stay civilized? They should have consulted the lads of The Maze Runner!

M is for Maze Runner! see A-L & N-Z.

N is for No Exit! “No Exit” is an existentialist play by Jean-Paul Sartre. The play is about three deceased characters who are punished by being locked into a room together for eternity. Hell is other people!

O is for Ouroboros! It goes around & around & around!

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P is for Pandemic! A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that has spread through human populations across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or even worldwide.

Q is for Quotient! In mathematics, a quotient is the result of division.

R is for Runner! The Runner” is a song by Ian Thomas, covered in 1984 by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.

S is for Survivor! “Survivor” is a ‘reality’ game show created by Mark Burnett. Contestants attempt to outwit, outplay, and outlast each other; the key goal is to not be voted out. Last person standing wins!

T is for Tenacity! I would say that running around in the same maze for two years is pretty damned tenacious!

U is for Unanswered Questions! Some readers felt frustration or anger at the end of The Maze Runner – too many questions left unanswered, too abrupt of a cliffhanger. I felt quite a bit of frustration as well, but for the opposite reason: I would have appreciated less questions answered, more ambiguity. I wanted less of a plunge into a rather typical post-apocalyptic adventure and more running about in a maze for reasons unknown. Although I did enjoy the actual cliffhanger!

V is for Vendetta! The characters in The Maze Runner use the idea of Vendetta to fight back, to inspire themselves, to fling themselves into the unknown. “V for Vendetta” is a graphic novel by Alan Moore. The movie adaptation of that comic contains this quote: “There are no coincidences, only the illusion of coincidences” … which of course is an approximation of Albert Einstein’s quote: “God does not play dice with the universe” … indeed! But who is this “God” in Maze Runner's universe?

W is for Waiting for Godot! “Waiting for Godot” is a play by Samuel Beckett in which two characters wait in vain for a person named Godot. The characters wait for answers that never appear. Beckett, describing his creation: “It is a game, everything is a game”… the game of life?

X is for Xbox! The Xbox and its various successors are video game consoles. I trust you can connect the dots here.

Y is for Young Adult! I think that many of our classic and modern young adult stories constitute the fables of our times. A handful of narratives that are repeated and reshaped, told through thousands of books and read by millions of readers. Their prose is usually transparent and their meanings overt. Both the reader and the protagonist are given clear lessons to learn. But the reader may, in turn, choose to project their own meanings onto these archetypical stories.

Z is for Zarathustra! “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” is a philosophical novel by Friedrich Nietzsche. It deals with ideas such as ‘the eternal recurrence of the same’ and the Übermensch, or Overman – a goal in which human life would be given meaning by how it advanced a new generation of humans.

* 12 letters taken directly from my best Wikipedia. thanks, pal! I truly do love you. *