The Maze Runner

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The Maze Runner
The Maze Runner cover.png
2009 edition cover
AuthorJames Dashner
Cover artistPhilip Straub
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Maze Runner series
GenreYoung adult, science fiction, post-apocalyptic
PublishedOctober 7, 2009
PublisherDelacorte Press
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback), audiobook, e-book
Pages375 pp.[1]
ISBN978-0-385-73794-4 (first edition, hardcover)
LC ClassPZ7.D2587Maz 2009[1]
Preceded byThe Fever Code (in narrative order) 
Followed byThe Scorch Trials[2] 

The Maze Runner is a 2009 young adult dystopian science fiction novel written by American author James Dashner and the first book released in The Maze Runner series. The novel was published on October 7, 2009 by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House, and was made into a 2014 major motion picture by 20th Century Fox, directed by Wes Ball.


Thomas wakes up in a metal elevator that brings him to a place called the Glade. He has no memory of who he is or how he got there. He gradually discovers that the Glade is run by two boys: Alby, the leader, and Newt, the second-in-charge, who both maintain order by enforcing simple but effective rules. The elevator box surfaces from under the ground once every week supplying new food, tools, medicine, and sometimes weapons. Every month a new boy with no memory of anything but his first name finds himself in that elevator box. The Glade is surrounded by a square of 4 mile-high walls made of concrete. These walls have openings in them, which slide shut like doors every night. Outside the walls is the Maze, a labyrinth of high concrete walls covered in ivy that changes every day. The Maze houses strange, lethal creatures known as Grievers. Grievers are described as amorphous monsters of metal and flesh. The Gladers are trying to stay alive as well as "solve" the Maze by appointing 'runners' to run through it as fast as they can while tracking movements of the walls and trying to find an exit to escape.

One day after Thomas' arrival, a girl named Teresa is delivered through the elevator into the Glade with a note saying "She's the last one. Ever." It implies that there will be no more children sent into the Glade. The girl subsequently lapses into a long coma. When Thomas comes to visit her, he recognizes her, but cannot remember her name until he hears her voice telepathically in his mind telling him her name. Teresa wakes up and tells Thomas that they knew each other before they were sent into the Glade, and reveals that they could communicate telepathically.

Minho, the keeper of the runners, and Alby go into the Maze to see what they think is their first dead Griever. Alby is stung by the creature and, while Minho is trying to help him out of the Maze, Thomas runs in to help,just then the doors of the maze shut. All three are then stranded in the Maze overnight. Minho, believing Alby is dead without the Serum, tells Thomas to leave him and just run, looking for shelter so the Grievers don't find them. Thomas, unable to leave Alby to die, uses the vines on the walls to pull him up and out of the view of the Grievers, then attracts their attention and evades them. Minho sees Thomas's evasion tactic and uses it to send the four Grievers chasing them over the Cliff. Thomas, Alby, and Minho are the first people in the Glade to survive a night in the maze. After getting back to The Glade the next morning, Newt calls a Gathering of The Keepers to discuss what to do with Thomas. Some of the Keepers vote to relieve him of punishment while others (especially Gally) vote to lock him up in the Slammer (the jail block) as a punishment. Minho, however, nominates Thomas to replace him as the Keeper of The Runners. Gally decides to kick Minho off The Council, causing Minho to attack him. Thomas is locked up in jail and the next day he starts his training with Minho.

After their miraculous return, Teresa's arrival triggers a series of changes to life in the Glade: people start acting strangely, the sun disappears, the weekly deliveries of supplies stop coming, and the doors of the Maze stay open at night, which allows the Grievers to enter the Glade and hunt the children.

Thomas proposes that the walls of the Maze are not random, but that their movements are actually a code, leading to the discovery that the Maze is spelling out words. Thomas also discovers that what they previously thought was the Cliff is actually where the Grievers leave the Maze ("The Griever Hole"). This drives Thomas to think they need memories to get out, so he intentionally gets stung by a Griever so he can receive the antidote ("Grief Serum") and thereby go through the Changing. It is known that the Changing can trigger memories and sometimes violence.

Thomas and the Gladers find out what the pattern is. The Gladers decide to make a run for the exit, knowing that taking on the Grievers is a suicide mission, but deciding that nothing is worse than their current fate. They succeed, only to find out that they were test subjects in an experiment conducted by an organization called World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department (WICKED). The teenagers escape to a laboratory but encounter Gally, who had not escaped with them. Acting under mind control, he moves to throw a knife at Thomas, but a young Glader, Chuck, jumps to save him.

After briefly mourning the death of Chuck, all 20 Gladers are rescued. They are brought to a safe haven and told about catastrophic solar flares that caused an apocalyptic event, followed by a virus called the Flare that killed millions. The rescuers reveal that orphaned children are being tested to find a cure for the virus.


The epilogue is written in the voice of Chancellor Ava Paige—a feature of all the novels in the trilogy. She reveals that the group who rescued the Gladers may just be another variable in the experiment and that the Gladers weren't the only group being evaluated.


The protagonist of the novel. He is the last boy but not the last person to enter the Glade. The only thing he can remember when he comes into the Glade is his name, a common pattern amongst the Gladers. Chuck described him as about 16 years old, of average height, and brown-haired. He was called "Greenie", a nickname given to new arrivals. He becomes a Runner with Minho after being the first person to spend a whole night in the Maze and saves Alby when he is about to die. He has a telepathic connection with Teresa and was able to talk to her while she was in a coma.
One of the main protagonists. The first girl and last person to enter the Glade. When she entered the Glade she was in a coma and Newt thought she was dead. She also calls Thomas "Tom". She has a telepathic connection with Thomas. She is also known to help Thomas out of the maze and fight the Grievers in the Griever Hole. She is thin, has black hair and blue eyes, and relatively pale skin.
The eldest and the leader of the Gladers. He is described as 'The dark-skinned boy with short-cropped hair, his face clean-shaven'. He 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 Newt, his second-in-command. 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.→
One of the main protagonists and is good friends with Thomas and Minho. He used to be a Runner but is no longer able-footed. He is very kind, friendly, and welcoming to Thomas. He is Alby's closest friend and second-in-command and takes over as leader when Alby no longer feels capable.
One of the main protagonists and is the Keeper of the Runners. He is in charge of navigating and mapping out the Maze. As a Runner, he's in very good shape and is described as "an Asian kid with strong, heavily-muscled arms and short black hair." He is sarcastic and a jokester. He tends to react without thinking, which leads himself into trouble. He and Thomas quickly become good friends.
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. Chuck was a "Slopper". He is around 12 or 13  years old. He is killed by Gally after a knife is thrown at him while he is saving Thomas (shot in the movie).
The main antagonist. A Glader who lives by the rules Alby put in place. He does not trust Thomas and shows an immense dislike for him. He is also the Keeper of the Builders. He runs away from the Glade in a fit of rage after exclaiming that he thought "Thomas was not to be trusted" in the Gathering. At the end of the book, he kills Chuck by throwing a knife into his chest. (shot with a gun in the movie)
A Builder. After undergoing the Changing and attempting to kill Thomas. Ben is banished to the Maze while still induced with the serum and still psycho and dies overnight.
Ava Paige
The Chancellor of WICKED and the person responsible for sending teenagers into the Maze. She appears in the Epilogue as an e-mail.
Biomechanical creatures that haunt and kill the Gladers in the maze. In "The Ending" they are let free onto the Glade to kill one person every day.


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 be "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 2008.[3] Dashner wrote the book from December 2005 to March 2006.[3]


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."[4]

Jessica Harrison of the Deseret Morning News labelled 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", saying, "While 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."[5]

Film adaptation[edit]

Fox released a film adaptation of the book, titled The Maze Runner, on 19 September 2014. Wes Ball signed on as director and T.S. Nowlin wrote the screenplay.[6] Dylan O'Brien played the lead role of Thomas,[7] Thomas Brodie-Sangster portrayed Newt[8] and Kaya Scodelario Teresa,.[9] Ki Hong Lee as Minho, Blake Cooper, Will Poulter and Aml Ameen were added to the cast as , Chuck, Gally and Alby, respectively. Patricia Clarkson played the role of the main antagonist Ava Paige. Dexter Darden portrayed Frypan, Alexander Flores portrayed Winston, Jacob Latimore played Jeff, Randal Cunningham portrayed Clint, Chris Sheffield portrayed Ben, and Joe Adler played Zart.

Wayne Haag served as an artist on the film, and Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Lindsay Williams with Lee Stollman as producers.[10]

Creature designer Ken Barthelmey designed the Grievers for the film.[11]

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


  1. ^ a b "The maze runner" (first edition). LC Online Catalog. Library of Congress ( Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  2. ^ Shill, Aaron (25 November 2009). "'Maze Runner' on 'right track'". Deseret Morning News. Archived from the original on 19 December 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  3. ^ a b Dashner, James (16 July 2008). "The Tale of The Maze Runner". The Dashner Dude. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  4. ^ "The Maze Runner". Kirkus Reviews. 15 September 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  5. ^ Harrison, Jessica (3 October 2009). "Maze Runner provides a thrilling adventure". Deseret Morning News. Archived from the original on 19 December 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  6. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (4 January 2011). "Young-adult sensation The Maze Runner gets ready to run the movie gantlet (updated)". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  7. ^ Wilkinson, Amy (18 April 2013). "'Maze Runner' finds its Thomas". MTV. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  8. ^ "Movie Casting Round-Up: Thomas Brodie-Sangster joins 'Maze Runner'; Scott Glenn added to 'Trigger'". Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  9. ^ "Kaya Scodelario joins The Maze Runner". Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  10. ^ "We have @jamesdashner The Dashner Dude, then we got @wesball Mr Director Dude and now we have @ankaris Mr Designer Dude!! Good that". Twitter. 7 December 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  11. ^ The Art of Ken Barthelmey - Creature Designer / Concept Artist / Illustrator
  12. ^ Dashner, James (29 March 2013). "Much more casting news should be coming very soon. They start filming in May. Release date of 19 September 2014 #dashnerchat". Twitter. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  13. ^ simg, murphy. "The Maze Runner Review". Retrieved 15 September 2014.

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