I’m excited that I still recall just how very, very much I disliked this book when I read it. Sometimes I forget, but this one remains fresh, god bless it.
World building is not easy. There are so many ways it can go wrong, and Mr. Dashner has managed to take this sideways in so many different directions, the mind is boggled. Most importantly, and often overlooked in the face of transgressions like unrealistic characters, clumsy plot and poor editing, is the use of swear words. Where worlds like Battlestar Galactica and Firefly managed to develop alternate slang that was enough like reality to be contextualized, Maze Runner fails entirely. Most obvious (and really, I almost stopped reading as soon as this word was introduced) is the use of the word “klunk” in place of crap or shit. This is actually explained by a character as referring to the sound poop makes when it falls into a bucket (presumably what they are using for toilets). I would suggest that if saying the word out loud makes you feel uncomfortable and like laughing, it is a failure. Small details like that can be overwhelmingly distracting, and here there isn’t the refuge of great characters, strong dialogue or even a compelling plot to fall back on.
Additionally, following the success of other dystopian YA fiction (The Hunger Games, chiefly), everyone with a computer is rushing to jump on the band wagon and secure their screen writing deal. When that happens, the reader is left entirely out of the process. The book is a means to a movie deal, and the reader is incidental. The world already has Lord of the Flies, so a story involving teenage boys left to their own devices has to be careful not to be derivative. Maze Runner, however, fails in that regard.
In short, I would say that “klunk” is the sound this book should make when you throw it in the garbage can.