Maze, as Christopher Manson introduces it on the first page, is not really a book at all. It is a "building in the shape of a book." And quite a convoluted building it is! Christopher Manson has created a genuine labyrinth, using nothing but paper and some ink. The goal is simple enough: get from room 1 to room 45 in as few steps as possible (Manson explains you can do it in only sixteen steps if you use your head). The problem comes when you actually begin to try moving through Manson's Maze. Each page is a separate "room," with its own unique puzzles to solve, both visually in the heavy-handed cross-hatching of the illustrations and also in the text that goes along with that room, where the narrator gives you vague hints and clues that may help or hinder you on your way. Nothing is explained, nothing is a 'given.' Even what you think is a hint may turn out to be a red herring, leading you into one of the impossible trap rooms or a loop. Everything is a clue but not every clue is important. You just don't know.
This is one of those books that you can pour over for hours and hours and still not quite have gotten the point. This is the kind of book I loved as a kid—one I could never really grasp or solve, but I could pour over for hours. I want to take this book home and sit with it, a notebook, and a cup of chai tea and figure out every riddle.
But that's part of the wonderful enigma of Maze. No one's ever solved it, not completely. People have solved parts of it, but there hasn't been one defining moment where someone has said, "Hey, I got this!" That's part of what makes it so great. There isn't an answer key and there isn't a website online that tells you the answer—the closest you can come is an online forum that holds fan theories. Still, that doesn't draw back from the appeal of Maze. Most of the book is eye-candy. At times it's wonderfully whimsical, and at others the illustrations are eerily unsettling. While nothing in this book is scary, some of it is discomforting, and some of it may give you chills.
This is an excellent book in which to get lost (and trust me, you will get lost). But that's part of the appeal. Sit down with Maze and spend an afternoon (or a week, month?) with the strange inhabitants you find therein. And maybe, if you're smart (and lucky), you'll figure it out.
Review by Emily Wright
Emily fell in love with words when she was very young. An avid bibliophile, her collection contains over 400 books (and counting)! She can usually be found with a cup of coffee and her nose in a book (even at work!) Read more of her reviews here
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