The Maze Runner
|Cover artist||Philip Straub|
|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 dystopian 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 novel spawned two sequels: The Scorch Trials (2010) and The Death Cure (2011).
A teenage boy wakes up in an elevator with no memory of his past other than the fact that his name is Thomas. When the elevator doors open, he is pulled into a glade by a bunch of teenage boys who also have no memories besides what they should be called.
Thomas gradually discovers that the Glade is run by two boys, Alby and Newt, who maintain order by enforcing strict rules. Outside the Glade is the Maze, a labyrinth of high walls covered in ivy that houses strange, lethal creatures known as Grievers. The boys are trying to stay alive as well as "solving" the Maze by running through it as fast as they can while tracking movements of the walls and trying to find an exit.
After Thomas's arrival, a girl is delivered through the elevator into the Glade, and subsequently lapses into a coma. To make matters worse, her arrival triggers everything in the Glade to change: the sun disappears, the deliveries of supplies stop coming, and the doors stay open at night which allows the Grievers to enter the Glade to hunt the children.
Thomas proposes that the walls of the Maze aren't random, but that their movements are actually a code, leading to the discovery that the maze is spelling out words. Thomas also discovers that the Cliff that they all thought was just a cliff turns out to be where the Grievers are coming from. If they can come and go over the edge of a cliff, then maybe so can the boys.
The girl, Teresa, wakes up and tells Thomas that they knew each other before they were put in the Glade, and reveals that they can communicate telepathically.
In an act of desperation to get his memory back, Thomas gets himself stung by a Griever and discovers the Griever Hole is indeed an exit. Furthermore, the code that the Maze has been spelling out is their ticket to escape.
A large group of the teenagers decide to make a run for it, knowing that it could be suicide trying to take on the Grievers but figuring that nothing could be worse than being stuck in the Glade. They succeed, only to find out that what they've been doing is an experiment being conducted by the Creators, a group called WICKED, who may or may not be evil. The boys and Teresa then get "rescued" by rebels and brought to a safe haven while being told about "the Flare"—an apocalyptic occurrence that killed off half of the world's population.
The epilogue reveals that the "rebel group" may just be another variable in the experiment, and they weren't the only group being evaluated.
- Thomas: The protagonist. Thomas is the last boy to enter the Glade. He realizes his name on The Box when he first wakes up and is attacked by Ben on his second day whilst searching for fertilizer for Newt. Becomes a Runner with Minho after being the first person to spend a whole night in the maze. He finds the way out of the maze and help the Gladers escape.
- Teresa Agnes: The only girl to enter the Glade. She is thin, has black hair, blue eyes and is described as very beautiful. She is the last person who was put in the Glade. She has a telepathetic connection with Thomas. She also calls Thomas, "Tom".
- Alby: The eldest and the leader of the Gladers. "The dark-skinned boy [with] short cropped hair, his face clean shaven", tries to keep order within the group by having all the boys follow the rules they've set down to survive. He has a very close relationship with his second in command, Newt. He was in the group of 30 people who first arrived in the Glade. Alby commits suicide by walking into a group of grievers thinking that it was better that he die there than outside the maze.
- 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, loyal towards his friends. As a Runner, he's in very good shape and is described as "an Asian kid with strong arms and short black hair." He and Thomas become best friends.
- Chuck: A young and chubby boy with curly hair who was the newest Glader until Thomas arrived. He immediately becomes friends with Thomas and acts like a little brother towards him. He is around 12 years old. Dies in the end when Gally throws a knife at Thomas and Chuck jumps in front of him.
- Gally: A black-haired 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. He runs away from the Glade and eventually kills Chuck.
- Newt: A tall, strong, smart boy with long blond hair and a British accent. He often uses the British curse "bloody". He used to be a Runner, but is no longer able-footed. He is very kind, friendly and welcoming to Thomas. His nickname for Thomas is Tommy and they end up being friends. He is Alby's closest friend and second-in-command and takes over as leader when Alby no longer feels capable.
- Frypan: The Gladers' cook and Keeper of the Cooks. He is described as very particular, talented, and very, very hairy.
- Clint: One of the two Med-jacks. The short boy with graying black hair works closely with Jeff healing victims of the Griever's sting with the Grief Serum.
- Jeff: The taller of the two Med-jacks. He works closely with Clint healing victims of the Griever's sting with the Grief Serum.
- Winston: The Keeper of the Slicers - in charge of slaughtering livestock for food. He is described as "an acne-covered kid, short but muscular" and seems to enjoy his job a little too much.
- Zart: A big, black -haired brooding boy. He is 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.
- Kaylen: An all round helper usually studies the maps.
- Ben: Is a builder.
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. The book was later published in 2009." 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."
Kaylen from the Naki press wrote; "A timeless adventure, interesting characters, and one big mystery. This book kept me reading, well done again to James Dasher."
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, 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.
The popularity of the film has resulted in many fan projects, the most prominent being Maze Runner Chat, a podcast featuring news discussions and occasional cast interviews. The podcast is produced by MazeRunnerFans.com, a popular fan website for the series. 
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- 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.
- Wilkinson, Amy (April 18, 2013). "'Maze Runner' Finds Its Thomas". MTV. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
- "Movie Casting Round-Up: Thomas Brodie-Sangster Joins ‘Maze Runner’; Scott Glenn Added To ‘Trigger’". deadline.com. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
- "Kaya Scodelario Joins The Maze Runner". empireonline.com. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
- "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)