The Maze Runner has been one of the most popular young adult series for the last couple of years, and now I know why. The setting is a cross between Lord of the Flies and the Cube horror flicks. It has characteristics of an amnesiac psycho-thriller, but with all the maturity of The Goonies. In other words it’s mysterious, thrilling, and juvenile. James Dashner impressed me with his ability to take me back to the young teenage years full of inane conversations and pointless debates. He successfully pulled me into this imaginary world and kept me intrigued throughout.
Thomas awakens with no memories whatsoever. He knows how the world functions and all the basic skills to survive, but somehow cannot pinpoint a single memory from his past. Soon after he wakes up, he is greeted by a small band of teenage boys who seem reluctant to tell him anything about the strange world, which they call “The Glade”, he has just entered into. They seem to have a decently structured society and all the amenities for a mostly-civilized life, but the polarizing fact of their existence is that they live inside of a maze. As the days go on Thomas learns to live in his new community, but the reality is that no one knows how or why they ended up inside of the maze.
Thomas instantly obsesses over the maze and wishes to become a part of the most important team in the Glade-the runners. It is the job of the runners to discover and map out the maze as best as they can everyday in hopes of finding an exit. However there are a few problems. Every night the walls shift and the maze changes. On top of that at night time unique and terrifying predators called “grievers” hunt down any boys left in the maze. No one has ever spent a night lost in the maze and lived.
Looking for the Big Picture
As you would probably guess, Thomas plays an integral role in discovering the secrets of the maze. But how does he, a complete newbie, have anything to offer dozens of boys who have spent years trying to escape? Without giving away any spoilers I will tell you this, he spends his time thinking about and looking at the big picture. The rest of the boys inspect the details thoroughly and diligently, but never get anywhere. Thomas ends up being able to piggyback off of their hard work, rearrange the evidence, and see something no one else ever did.
This idea ties in wonderfully with what we are trying to accomplish with [World]Re[Views]. We live in a world that is focused on the details. In the news we are obsessed with the latest act of terrorism but rarely try to understand why the terrorists terrorize in the the first place. We want to know the newest piece of gossip on Hollywood stars, but never seem to question whether or not we should even care. In Christian circles we often debate over how to properly phrase a theological statement or pick at someone else’s usage of a particular word, but spend far less words dedicated to furthering the evangelizing and discipling of the world. In the world of reviews, particular controversial moments in stories become the focus of the entire review.
Don’t get me wrong, details are important, but we can miss the glory of an ocean by focusing only on the surf bubbling around our feet. I am glad there are people who devote the time and effort to properly understand the details of a story, but there are always more details to analyze. Entire books have been dedicated to interpreting much smaller works of fiction. At the end of the day, most of us aren’t going to remember all of the details of a story. We are going to come away remembering a couple scenes, some impressions, maybe have some thoughts, and a general feeling.
It is our goal to capture some of those large, overarching themes found in a story. Which virtues does the author praise and scorn? If you would define “heroism” by the protagonist in a story, what conclusion would you come to? What character traits are portrayed as honorable? What is man’s purpose according to the story? What conclusions about life do the characters come to? These are the things we consider, because whether you realize it or not these questions are being answered and you are listening to them. When you begin to look for worldview content in stories, you will find yourself more enlightened and edified in your reading and viewing.
The Necessity of Hope
Now that I have spent some time contending for the importance of seeing the big picture, what is a major theme we can take away from The Maze Runner? Throughout the book there is a strong theme of hope. A younger boy named Chuck hopes to meet his mom someday, and that is what gives him the will to press on in the day to day rigors of life. Thomas promises to help Chuck and all the others to return home, wherever home may be, and is driven by the hope that he can help these lost boys. In the story it is obvious that the boys have been placed in the maze for some kind of experiment, but in the end we find out one of the main things the “creators” were observing was how well they retained hope.
We pursue most things in life because of a hope. Fitness buffs diligently exercise in hopes of having a happy and healthy life. Students study hard in school hoping it will lead them to a job with a generous salary. People pursue their passions hoping for fulfillment or recognition.
Thank God that through Jesus Christ we have a living hope. We don’t need to worry if our accomplishments are remembered in one hundred years because every second of our lives will mean something to our eternal Father. We endure through the most painful times because we know we will soon enter a world where every wrong will be made right and every tear will be swept away. It is hope that drives us, and ultimately that grows us into the people we will become.
and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. -Romans 5:5
You can contact Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org