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, although it is the third in narrative order.[2][3] 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.


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 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. 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 running 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 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.

Her 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 and Minho are the first people in the Glade to survive the night in the maze.

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 the cliff that they all thought was just a cliff turns out to be where the Grievers leave the Maze or "The Griever Hole" as he and Minho call it. If they can come and go over the edge of the Cliff, then maybe so can the Gladers. This drives Thomas to think they need memories to get out, so he intentionally gets stung by a Griever so he can go through the Changing – the process that people go through after getting the Grief Serum, a syringe of medicine that arrives in the Box along with the other supplies and is administered to people who have been stung by Grievers. The Changing can trigger memories and most often does.

Thomas and the Gladers find out what the pattern is, which causes most of the Gladers to decide to make a run for the exit, knowing that it could be suicidal trying to take on the Grievers, but figuring that nothing could be worse than being stuck in the Glade waiting to be hunted by the Grievers. 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). Gally, one of the Gladers who always knew something was different about Thomas and hated him for it, appears at the laboratory to which the teenagers escape. He had not originally escaped with them, and he is acting as though he is being controlled. He moves to throw a knife at Thomas, but Chuck, the youngest Glader and Thomas' friend, jumps in front of him.

After briefly mourning the death of Chuck, all 20 Gladers are rescued by a group of people and brought to a safe haven while being 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.


  • Thomas: The protagonist. Thomas is the last boy, but not the last person to enter the Glade. The only thing he remembered when he came into the glade was his name. 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.
  • Teresa: 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 pale skin.
  • Alby: 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.
  • Newt: A tall, strong, smart boy with medium-length blond hair who speaks with an odd accent. 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.
  • Minho: The Keeper of the Runners 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 smart alek. He and Thomas quickly become good 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. 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.
  • Gally: 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.
  • Ben: A Runner. 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 the writer of a revealing e-mail.
  • Grievers: Mechanical 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 2009.[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", 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."[6]

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.[7] Dylan O'Brien played the lead role of Thomas,[8] Thomas Brodie-Sangster portrayed Newt[9] and Kaya Scodelario Teresa,.[10] Ki Hong Lee, Blake Cooper, Will Poulter and Aml Ameen were added to the cast as Minho, 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.[11]

Creature designer Ken Barthelmey designed the Grievers for the film.[12]

Filming started on 13 May 2013,[13] and ended 12 July 2013.[14]


  1. ^ a b "The maze runner" (first edition). LC Online Catalog. Library of Congress ( Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b 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. ^ Dig, Enric (24 September 2014). "The Maze Runner 2014 Full Movie Review". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  4. ^ a b Dashner, James (16 July 2008). "The Tale of The Maze Runner". The Dashner Dude. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  5. ^ "The Maze Runner". Kirkus Reviews. 15 September 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Wilkinson, Amy (18 April 2013). "'Maze Runner' finds its Thomas". MTV. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  9. ^ "Movie Casting Round-Up: Thomas Brodie-Sangster joins 'Maze Runner'; Scott Glenn added to 'Trigger'". Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  10. ^ "Kaya Scodelario joins The Maze Runner". Retrieved 8 April 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. 7 December 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  12. ^ The Art of Ken Barthelmey - Creature Designer / Concept Artist / Illustrator
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ simg, murphy. "The Maze Runner Review". Retrieved 15 September 2014.

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