THE RED LABYRINTH
by Meredith Tate
JUNE 4th, 2019!!!
The massive labyrinth was built to protect Zadie Kalver's isolated desert town. Unfortunately, living in the maze's shadow makes her feel anything but safe. Even without its enchanted deathtraps and illusions, a mysterious killer named Dex lurks in its corridors, terrorizing anyone in his path.
But when Zadie's best friend vanishes into the labyrinth-and everyone mysteriously forgets he exists- completing the maze becomes her only hope of saving him. In desperation, Zadie bribes the only person who knows the safe path through-Dex-into forming a tenuous alliance.
Navigating a deadly garden, a lethal blood-filled hourglass, and other traps-with an untrustworthy murderer for her guide-Zadie's one wrong step from certain death. But with time running out before her friend (and secret crush) is lost forever, Zadie must reach the exit and find him. If Dex and the labyrinth don't kill her first.
Danger waits at every turn in this fast-paced adventure.
Zadie is a blank, her hands branded to make sure everyone knows she's part of the lowest class. Non-blanks posses magic and look down on her. But Zadie has come to terms with that...more or less. Her town is the only inhabitable place left on the planet and protected by the leader who lives in a castle beyond the deadly labyrinth. No one has ever survived even being a few minutes in the labyrinth, only her best friend has been able to dash in and out to save someone who gets dragged in by the labyrinth's evil resident—Dex. But when her town is take over by evil forces and her friend disappears into the labyrinth, Zadie is determined to do her best to save them all. If she can survive Dex and the other deadly dangers.
When I started reading this, I was quickly reminded of The Maze Runner. Unlike Dashner's world, the people living in the town are doing fairly fine and aren't trying to escape. The break between the talented and blanks creates instant sympathy for Zadie, who is a kind young woman and knows 'her place'. She still has a bit of a rebel streak in her, but it doesn't overpower her personality. There's also a bit of sibling problems thanks to her older sister being talented and not wanting to show her care for Zadie in any open way.
The first chapters of this book had me bound to the pages. There is a lot of tension and secrecy surrounding the maze and Zadie's circumstances. Even the slight romance begins with her best friend hold and are sweet. It's when she enters the maze and meets Dex that things wobbled a little bit.
Dangers lurk around every corner in the maze—brutal and evil ones. The various traps and creatures are rich and create a very intriguing atmosphere. There is no easy way through, and to see how Dex and Zadie make their way through the maze did keep me on the edge of my seat. There are tear jerking moments and enough depth as well to make the characters vivid and worthy to root for. Still, there were holes in some of the world building, and logic didn't always hold or was simply contradictory. Even Dex...a character with so much dark potential...quickly fell into a normal, young adult role. The read was still intriguing, but it seemed to miss it's mark and left me a little disappointed. Even the ending wasn't what I expected and rushed through. Despite all of this, I still enjoyed the read, though.