Tick is an ordinary boy, and even though he has some insecurities and has to deal with bullies, he has the support of a good family. His life changes dramatically one day when he receives a mysterious letter in the mail. The letter contains a plea for help, a warning of danger if he accepts, and a way to escape danger if he chooses not to get involved, simply burn the letter. From this point on, Tick encounters many perils, but he steadfastly refuses to give up. More letters follow, each one containing a puzzle or riddle that must be solved before he is deemed worthy to join the real fight.
Dashner does an excellent job of depicting a typical, modern household, complete with annoying little sister, and integrating very strange and unusual characters and almost magical technology. The otherworldly heroes and villains are not your stereotypical good guys and bad guys either. Dashner reveals his incredible creativity in this book. He also breaks the mold in many ways. For example, instead of being an orphan or having horrible parents that he escapes, Tick has a wonderful, supportive mother and father, and one of the decisions he has to make is whether or not to tell his parents what’s going on.
Dashner also includes many puzzles and riddles that the readers can solve on their own. This really makes you feel like part of the story. It can also make you feel very smart if you end up solving the riddle before the hero.
I thought this was an excellent book, and I’m glad to see that it’s only the first in a series.