I’ve read a few reviews before I wrote this one and yes, there is a little similarity that this book has with The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games. It takes places around and within a maze. There’s a constant amount of games/challenges that the characters go through. That’s the only comparison I picked up so if you’ve read others, do tell!
The Red Labyrinth by Meredith Tate follows the story of Zadie, a blank hated by the Skilled in Trinnea. When her best friend, known as Limitless Landon goes in the red maze and comes out different, Zadie will stop at nothing to figure out because after, the whole of Trinnea changes. The only time she’ll get answers is if she enters the deadly labyrinth, but something stands in her way—someone named Dex.
Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley who approved my request for reading and reviewing this Young Adult Fantasy/SciFi book. In no way does this influence my opinions. I’ll try to keep it as spoiler-free as I can!
This was an exciting story, the way Tate came up with the concepts and fictional names/places were cool, but it seemed to drag a bit to point where I forgot that it was split into three parts to distinguish the three settings. Good idea but the second part dragged on a bit too long. I loved the beginning though, as it immediately drew me into the story and the chapter ended with some action starting. That’s difficult to do, and Tate managed that perfectly.
"Excitement brims in their eyes. The only emotion I can muster is indifference." - 1% into the book
Onto our main character, Zadie Lynn. At first, I liked her alertness and the fact that she was sincere but not in a way where it made her weak. She saw right through everything, and even though she’s lucky enough to live in Trinnea, she knows how they treat Blanks. It’s quite sad just because you’re physically marked as not being Skilled, you’re picked on. However, from part two, Zadie becomes the most oblivious thing known to mankind. It’s like her intelligence and instincts die as soon as she enters the maze.
For the minor characters who are the most important, not because they’re skilled, but I love them each. From the start, I knew Tate would do something more with Dex. That he wouldn’t just be the creature in the labyrinth. I love his backstory, how the author crafted it and connected it with Trinnea and the Stone Palace. I hope to see more of Dex in the future. I’d prefer him over our next character—Limitless Landon. That name already struck egotistically. I don’t know I tried to like Landon throughout the story but couldn’t find the spark. Maybe because he winked too much or deemed superior to others. I don’t know but when I first read about him, limitless being that he’s got an unlimited amount of skills…that was cool.
The other characters, in short, would have to be, Chantry (Zadie’s sister) who I found out to be such a coward like she treated her little sister like crap even though she already gets it from Skilled people. Their relationship is included in the story, but it didn’t seem like it was going anywhere, just added more worry and guilt to Zadie. The so-called Leader who lives on the other side of the labyrinth in the Stone Palace. When we’re introduced to him in the second chapter, I instantly found it fishy. That was a Hunger Games moment when President Snow just showed up on everyone’s screens, but in TRL, we’re never actually introduced to the Leader, only virtually.
"In the pandemonium, someone trips over the projector box and the Great Leader's image fizzles out. We really are alone." - 6% into the book
The challenges in the maze weren’t significant at all, but I guess that was the only way that Tate could create a relationship with the two characters. The challenges they faced revealed their pasts and sides that they don’t show other people. Creative way but too long.
I think power was an essential theme throughout the novel. As we read on, we believe the leader controls everything, but in Zadie’s eyes, she and the other Blanks are still traumatized by the Warden. There’s also the Skilled who rule Trinnea when the Leader isn’t present. They demand authority over the Blanks. It’s mostly shown in part three, for reasons I can’t explain but you’ll figure it out sooner or later.
My favorite and most exciting part of all time, and I’m sure you know this by now…was Dex. Even though he’s the supposed villain, his story alone touched me. I sensed that there was something about him but not so much in a way that I preferred him than Landon. Trust me, by the start of part three you’d latch onto Dex immediately.
"Dex paces briskly beside me. There's something about him that looks un-whole." - 38% into the book
Overall, I liked the idea of this book and how power is shown. Most of the characters weren’t to my liking, but their purpose and backstory kept me going. Even though I rated this 3/5 stars, I’m willing to read the sequel and see what happens to everyone...