The Maze Runner

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For the upcoming film, see The Maze Runner (film).
The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner cover.png
Author James Dashner
Cover artist Philip Straub
Country United States
Language English (United States)
Genre Young-adult, science fiction, post-apocalyptic
Publisher Delacorte Press
Publication date
October 2007
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback)
Pages 376
ISBN 978-0-385-73794-4
LC Class PZ7.D2587Maz 2007
Preceded by The Kill Order
Followed by The Scorch Trials[1]

The Maze Runner is the first book in a young-adult post-apocalyptic science fiction trilogy of the same name by James Dashner.[1][2] The novel was published October 2007 by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House and is being made into a 2014 major motion picture by 20th Century Fox. The novel spawned two sequels: The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure.

James Dashner has also written a prequel to The Maze Runner entitled The Kill Order, that came out in 2012.[3]

Plot summary[edit]

Thomas is brought into a place known as the Glade, with no memories of his life or the world. The only thing he remembers is his name. He and a lot of other teenage boys inside the Glade call themselves Gladers, and have made a community in which every Glader is assigned to his own job. The Glade is surrounded by a gigantic Maze in which mechanical creatures called Grievers roam at night. Huge doors all around the Glade protect the Gladers from these creatures by closing every night.

Supplies are brought to the Glade every week. Also once every month a new boy is sent through an elevator that is called the Box. The day after Thomas is brought to the Glade, a girl is sent with a message saying that she is the "last one ever." A girl has never been brought in before and the Gladers are excited and confused by her arrival. Right after arriving, the girl falls into a coma.

Meanwhile, Thomas learns more about the Glade, and he feels like he's been there before. He learns that the Gladers have been trying to solve the Maze for two years and that a Griever's painful sting can cause one to recall almost complete memories from the past. He feels oddly connected to the new girl and also befriends a young Glader named Chuck, as well as a boy named Newt. On the other hand, he has a somewhat negative relationship with Gally, who is suspicious of Thomas and claims that he has seen him, after he was stung by a Griever, in a process known as the Changing. Thomas also feels a sudden urge to be a Runner, the people who explore, map out, and try to find a way out of the Maze.

One day, one Runner, Minho, and the leader of the Glade, Alby, return late from inspecting a dead Griever. Alby has been stung by the Griever. As the doors are about to close with Minho and Alby outside, Thomas runs to join them in the Maze. Hearing the approaching Grievers, Minho tells Thomas that they must split up and run away, leaving Thomas with an unconscious Alby. Thomas manages to save Alby by tricking the Grievers into falling off the edge of the Maze, or the Cliff. Minho realizes Thomas could be the best Runner they have, and the two become friends.

The next morning, the three Gladers arrive back in the Glade as the doors open, to the amazement of the other Gladers. As acting leader, Newt decides to call a gathering to decide the fate of Thomas for breaking the first rule of the Glade. During the meeting, Gally again states his suspicions about Thomas. Others defend Thomas. Minho suggests Thomas be made the keeper of the runners. Gally tells Minho that his idea is ridiculous, and after arguing back and forth, Minho shoves Gally. Gally then leaves and goes missing.

It is decided that Thomas be made a Runner. Minho and Thomas set out for running the maze and the two find a transparent hole which leads to what Thomas calls the Griever Hole. After returning to the Glade, Thomas is shocked to hear the girl speak through his mind to him. He realizes her name is Teresa, and she tells him she has triggered the Ending. Soon afterwards, Teresa wakes up from the coma and finds Thomas. The two begin to talk and realize they feel connected to each other in a way that is close to remembering their lives before the Glade. The same day Teresa wakes up, the sky turns a dull grey. Thomas realizes that it must be fabricated by the Creators who put them in the Glade. That night, the Doors do not close, meaning the Gladers are completely unprotected from the Grievers.

After Alby has gone through the Changing, he talks about the outside world and how it is far worse than any of them could imagine. Alby reminds Thomas and begins to speak about his memories. During his conversation with Thomas, Alby suddenly starts choking himself, and Thomas calls on Newt to help stop Alby. The Gladers go into a state of protection and Gally returns in a frightened state, telling the Gladers that one of them will die every night. After the slug-like creatures enter the Glade, Gally throws himself on to one and the slugs retreat. It is discovered that all the Maps of the Maze made by the Runners over the past two years have been burned. Thomas is discouraged as he and Teresa had an idea about the maps revealing a code, allowing the Gladers to find a way out. After Thomas has his distress at the maps being burnt, Newt and Minho tell him that they hid the Maps in the Weapons Room in case something like this happened, and that they left decoys. With Teresa, Minho and Newt’s help, Thomas finds a code in the Maps, but they are all unsure of how to use it.

Desperate for answers, Thomas decides that he must be stung by a Griever to use any memories revealed in the Changing. When he wakes up after the Changing, he realizes that the Maze was never meant to be solved, but that they have been placed in a kind of experiment by the Creators to test their strength. He tells the other Gladers that they need to go down the Griever Hole and enter the code in a computer. After some deliberation, most of the Gladers decide to go through with the plan, and after preparing, they enter the Maze for what they hope is the last time.

Upon reaching the Hole, they realize that the Grievers are waiting for them. The Gladers attack the Grievers while Thomas, Teresa and Chuck attempt to get to the Hole. They eventually get through and Teresa enters the code while Thomas and Chuck fend off the Grievers. After entering the code, the Grievers are shut down and the remaining Gladers join them. About half of the Gladers who chose to fight were killed.

A door opens at the end of the Hole and the Gladers, including Thomas, Teresa, Chuck, Minho and Newt exit to find the Creators. A woman comes to greet the Gladers, but they feel hostile towards her for putting them through the test. She is joined by a hooded figure who is revealed to be Gally, and as a final part of the test, he pulls out a knife from his pocket and throws it at Thomas. Before he can react, Chuck throws himself in front of Thomas. Thomas attacks Gally before breaking down in tears, since he had promised Chuck he would get him back to his family.

Suddenly, a group of armed people rush into the building and attack the Creators. The leader says there is no time to explain and asks the Gladers to follow him to a bus. Before Thomas can get on, a woman grabs him, saying, "You have to save us from the flare," before being dragged away. Thomas gets on the bus and the leader runs the woman over. The Gladers are taken to a dormitory where they are fed and given a comfortable safe haven for the time being.


  • 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 link with Teresa.
  • Teresa: The first girl to enter the glade. She has a telepathic link with Thomas.
  • Alby: A boy who is one of 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. His best friend is Newt.
  • Newt: A tall boy with long blonde hair. He used to be a Runner, but had to quit when he injured his leg. He is friendly and welcoming to Thomas. He is Alby's second-in-command and best friend and takes over as leader when Alby no longer feels capable.
  • Minho: The keeper of the Runners - in charge of navigating and mapping out the Maze - he is snarky but loyal. He and Thomas become friends.
  • Chuck: A young and chubby boy who was the newest Glader until Thomas arrived, he immediately befriends Thomas and acts like a little brother towards him.
  • Gally: A Glader who was stung by a Griever and regained some memories and believes he remembers Thomas and shows an immense dislike for him. Keeper of the Builders.
  • Frypan: The Gladers' cook and keeper of the cooks.
  • Winston: The Keeper of the Slicers - in charge of slaughtering livestock for food.
  • Zart: A big, brooding boy and keeper of the Track-hoes who are in charge of farming.
  • Jeff: One of the two Med-jacks. He works closely with Clint healing victims of the Griever's sting with "The Grief Serum".
  • 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".
  • Ben: A Builder who was stung by a Griever. He becomes very violent and tries to kill Thomas.


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."[4] Dashner wrote the book from December 2005 to March 2006.[4]


Kirkus Reviews wrote, "Hard to put down, this is clearly just a first installment, and it will leave readers dying to find out what comes next".[5]

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."[6]

Film adaptation[edit]

A film adaptation of the book, titled The Maze Runner, will be released by Fox on September 19, 2014. Wes Ball has signed on as director and T.S. Nowlin will write the screenplay.[7] Dylan O'Brien will play the lead role of Thomas,[8] and Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Kaya Scodelario will portray Newt[9] and Teresa,[10] respectively. Ki Hong Lee, Blake Cooper, Will Poulter and Aml Ameen round up the cast as the rest of the Gladers..

Wayne Haag is to serve as an artist on the film, and Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Lindsay Williams and Lee Stollman as producers.[11] Creature designer Ken Barthelmey has created concept designs for the film.[12]

Filming started on May 13, 2013,[13] and ended July 12, 2013.


  1. ^ a b Shill, Aaron (November 25, 2009). "'Maze Runner' on 'right track'". Deseret Morning News. Archived from the original on December 19, 2009. Retrieved December 19, 2009. 
  2. ^ Deahl, Rachel (May 30, 2009). "BookExpo America 2009: Parsing the Good ‘WTF’ Literary Moments from the Bad at First YA Buzz Panel". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved December 19, 2009. [dead link]
  3. ^ "The Kill Order to be published in August 2012" (Press release). New York: Delacorte Press. November 21, 2011. Retrieved November 24, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Dashner, James (July 16, 2008). "The Tale of The Maze Runner". The Dashner Dude. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  5. ^ "The Maze Runner". Kirkus Reviews. September 15, 2009. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  6. ^ Harrison, Jessica (October 3, 2009). "'Maze Runner' provides a thrilling adventure". Deseret Morning News. Archived from the original on December 19, 2009. Retrieved December 19, 2009. 
  7. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (January 4, 2011). "Young-adult sensation 'The Maze Runner' gets ready to run the movie gantlet (Updated)". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  8. ^ Wilkinson, Amy (April 18, 2013). "'Maze Runner' Finds Its Thomas". MTV. Retrieved June 28, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Movie Casting Round-Up: Thomas Brodie-Sangster Joins ‘Maze Runner’; Scott Glenn Added To ‘Trigger’". Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Kaya Scodelario Joins The Maze Runner". Retrieved April 8, 2013. 
  11. ^ "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. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ simg, murphy. "The Maze Runner Review". Retrieved 15 September 2014. 

External links[edit]