The Maze Runner
|Cover artist||Philip Scrub|
|Genre||Young-adult, science fiction, post-apocalyptic|
|October 21, 2009|
|LC Class||PZ7.D2587Maz 2007|
|Followed by||The Scorch Trials|
The Maze Runner is the first book in a young-adult post-apocalyptic science fiction trilogy of the same name by James Dashner. The novel was published on October 6, 2009, by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House, and was made into a 2014 major motion picture by 20th Century Fox. The sequel to the movie, The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials is set to be released on September 18, 2015. The novel spawned two sequels: The Scorch Trials (2010) and The Death Cure (2011).
Thomas arrives in a place known as the Glade, left with no memories except his name. He meets other teenage boys called Gladers who have created a community. Each Glader is assigned to a task in different departments headed by a Keeper. Shortly after arrival, Thomas gets a tour by Alby, the oldest and the leader, and some other Gladers.
A gigantic maze surrounds the Glade. Inside, mechanical creatures called Grievers roam it at night. The huge doors into the maze close at sunset and reopen in the morning. Every week supplies are sent, and every month a new boy arrives in an elevator called, "the Box," It is the same elevator Thomas arrived in. There are also Beetle Blades, mechanical bugs which spy on the Gladers, with "WICKED" (World in Castastrophe - Killzone Experiment Department) written on them.
After Thomas arrives, an unconscious girl arrives carrying a note reading, "She's the last one." She is taken to the infirmary to recover from a coma before being questioned. Meanwhile, Thomas learns that the Gladers have unsuccessfully been trying to solve the Maze for two years, and that the antidote to a Griever sting revives small bits of memory. Chuck (a twelve year old boy), and Newt (the Gladers' second-in-command), befriend Thomas. Gladers exploring the Maze are called "Runners." Minho, the Keeper of the Runners, and Alby, the Gladers' leader, search for a dead Griever that Minho found while running the maze the day before. However, the Griever is found to be not dead and it stings Alby. Minho struggles to carry Alby back to the Glade, but as the doors close on them, Thomas runs into the Maze to help.
Hearing approaching Grievers, Minho leaves Thomas with an unconscious Alby. Thomas saves Alby and, finding Minho, tricks pursuing Grievers into falling off "the cliff" (an abyss within the Maze). Minho and Thomas return to the Glade as the doors open the next morning.
As the acting leader, Newt calls a "Gathering" to decide Thomas's fate for entering the Maze without permission. It is decided to make Thomas a Runner after serving one day in "the Slammer" (jail).
The day after, Thomas joins Minho running the Maze. They quickly discover a "Griever Hole" through a cliff, exposing the outside world. He also discovers words covered in vines that say, "World in Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department", assuming that WICKED is the acronym.
After returning to the Glade, Thomas is shocked that the girl speaks telepathically to him. Her name is Teresa, and she says she has triggered an "Ending." Soon afterward, Teresa awakes and befriends Thomas. The same day, the sky turns a dull gray, which Thomas attributes to the Creators of the Glade. That night, the Maze doors remain open, leaving the Gladers unprotected from the Grievers. The Grievers start taking one person each night. Alby also burns down the map room, but Minho and the other Runners had moved all the maps to a secret room. The Gladers align the maps, which spell out words. They have no relation to each other, and the Gladers determine it is a code.
Desperate to retrieve his lost memories, Thomas allows a Griever to sting him. After recovering, Thomas explains that he and Teresa were forced to help the Creators design the Maze. He says he and Teresa share a telepathic link. The way out of the Maze is over a cliff face and that it is an illusion to trick them. This is where the Grievers enter and exit the Maze. By following the Grievers, they can escape by punching the code words into a computer on the other side. Thomas leads the Gladers into the Maze and they confront a small army of Grievers. About half the Gladers die, but Thomas, Teresa, and Chuck escape down the hole and punch in the code and shut down the Maze. A door opens nearby.
The 21 remaining Gladers descend down a spiraling slide that dumps them into a massive underground bunker. There they meet the Creators: thin, pale, joyless adults who take copious notes while observing them from behind glass. A woman greets the Gladers, telling them they have done well. Gally appears, pulls a knife on Thomas, and throws it at him. Chuck dives in front of it, sacrificing his life to save him. Enraged, Thomas strangles Gally by punching him repeatedly while choking him.
Suddenly, a group of gunmen storm the room and shoot the woman and the Creators. The Gladers are taken out of this facility and put into a large bus. As they are boarding, a hideously scarred woman grabs Thomas and tells him that he is here to save everyone from the Flare before the driver runs her over. Thomas and Teresa learn from a rescuer that the world was ravaged after solar flares slammed Earth, killing millions within days, leaving the world a wasteland. A disease known as the Flare now threatens humanity. The group's goal is to stop the tests WICKED is doing, and find the cure for the Flare.
After two hours, the bus stops at a dormitory-like building. Inside, the Gladers find bunk beds with blankets, bathrooms, and food. They finally feel safe. Thomas drifts off to sleep feeling there is hope for the future.
In an epilogue, it is suggested that the apparent rescue of the Gladers is yet another test masterminded by the Creators of the Maze and that the one Thomas escaped is not the only one WICKED have been observing.
- Alby: A boy who is the eldest and the leader of the Gladers, he tries to keep order within the group by having all the boys follow the rules they've set down to survive. He is in a very close relationship with his second in command, Newt. He was in the group of 30 people who first arrived in the glade
- Ben: A Builder and good friend of Gally's who was stung by a Griever. He becomes very violent and tries to kill Thomas. He is then banished from the Glade.
- Chuck: A young and chubby boy with a curly hair who was the newest Glader until Thomas arrived. He immediately becomes friends with Thomas and acts like a little brother towards him. Around 12 years old.
- Clint: One of the two Med-jacks and the keeper of the Med-jacks. He works closely with Jeff healing victims of the Griever's sting with "The Grief Serum".
- Deshawn: A minor member of the Gladers who appears to be the group's weapons specialist. He is shown several times sharpening spears.
- Frypan: The Gladers' cook and Keeper of the Cooks. He is described as very particular and a very talented cook.
- Gally: A Glader who lives by the rules Alby put in place. He does not trust Thomas and shows an immense dislike for him. Keeper of the Builders. Estimated to be around 15 years old. He runs away from the glade and eventually kills Chuck.
- Jeff: One of the two Med-jacks. He works closely with Clint healing victims of the Griever's sting with "The Grief Serum".
- Minho: The Keeper of the Runners - in charge of navigating and mapping out the Maze. He is very sarcastic, hotheaded and impulsive, but at the same time charming, smart and loyal towards his friends. As a Runner, he's in very good shape and is described as "dark-haired with strong arms." He and Thomas become best friends.
- Newt: A tall, strong, smart boy with blond hair and a British accent. He often uses the British curse "bloody". He used to be a Runner, but had to quit when he injured his leg a while ago by trying to kill himself by jumping off one of the maze walls. He is very kind, friendly and welcoming to Thomas. He calls Thomas for Tommy and they end up being best friends. He is Alby's closest friend and second-in-command and takes over as leader when Alby no longer feels capable.
- Teresa: The only girl to enter the glade, she has black hair, blue eyes and is very beautiful. She is the last person who was put in the glade. She has a telepathic connection with Thomas, and Aris.
- Thomas: A teenage boy who wakes up in a lift that takes him to The Glade, he has no memory of his life before except his name. He has a telepathic connection with Teresa and Aris. He has dark hair and is in good shape. He becomes a Runner and runs together with Minho.
- Winston: The Keeper of the Slicers - in charge of slaughtering livestock for food. Described to have acne.
- Zart: A big, brooding boy and keeper of the Track-hoes who are in charge of farming. Very smart and kind to Thomas. He is often made fun of by the other Gladers.
In late 2005, Dashner had published four books to complete The Jimmy Fincher Saga, which had been with a small regional publisher. His publisher wanted him to write another book, but he decided he would try for a national book market instead. In November of that year he had an idea when going to bed about, "a bunch of teenagers living inside an unsolvable Maze full of hideous creatures, in the future, in a dark, dystopian world. It would be an experiment, to study their minds. Terrible things would be done to them. Awful things. Completely hopeless. Until the victims turn everything on its head." Dashner wrote the book from December 2005 to March 2006.
Jessica Harrison of the Deseret Morning News labeled The Maze Runner as "a thrilling adventurous book for kids ages 13+ that will get readers' hearts pumping and leave them asking for more." She noted that it "starts out a bit slow" but as it matched Thomas's confusion and picked up pace as he became more accustomed, she wrote that "it's almost as if Dashner is easing the reader into what becomes a fast-paced, nonstop action." However, she thought the "only drawback" was the "fictionalized slang" that although it "feels realistic and fits with his characters, it gets old pretty fast. On the plus side, however, it's used so often that the reader almost becomes desensitized and learns to ignore it."
Fox released a film adaptation of the book, titled The Maze Runner, on September 19, 2014. Wes Ball signed on as director and T.S. Nowlin wrote the screenplay. Dylan O'Brien played the lead role of Thomas, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster portrayed Newt and Kaya Scodelario Teresa, respectively. Ki Hong Lee, Blake Cooper, Will Poulter and Aml Ameen were added to the cast as Minho, Chuck, Gally and Alby. Patricia Clarkson played the role of main antagonist Ava Paige, while Jacob Latimore portrayed Jeff and Randal Cunningham portrayed Clint. Chris Sheffield played Ben and Dexter Darden was Frypan, while Joe Adler portrayed Zart. A few of the stars for The Scorch Trials have recently been announced.
Creature designer Ken Barthelmey designed the Grievers for the film.
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- "We have @jamesdashner The Dashner Dude, then we got @wesball Mr Director Dude and now we have @ankaris Mr Designer Dude!! Good that". Twitter. December 7, 2011. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
- Dashner, James (March 29, 2013). "Much more casting news should be coming very soon. They start filming in May. Release date of September 19, 2014 #dashnerchat". Twitter. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
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- James Dashner (author) site (official)