The Maze Runner

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 6, 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.

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 6, 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] 


Thomas wakes up in a metal elevator that brings him to the Glade. He has no memory of who he is or how he got there, except for his name. 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 and supplies new food, tools, medicine, and sometimes weapons. Every month, a new boy with no memory of anything but his first name also appears in the box.

The Glade is surrounded by a square of four-mile-high walls made of concrete. The walls have openings in them, which slide shut 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. All that is known of them is that they are a combination of metal and flesh. The Gladers try to stay alive as well as "solve" the Maze by appointing "runners" to run through it as fast as they can while they track movements of the walls and try to find an exit to escape.

One day after Thomas' arrival, a girl, Teresa, is delivered through the elevator into the Glade. She is the first girl to arrive into the Glade and has a note stating "She's the last one. Ever." She says Thomas' name when she's in a week long coma. Later that day a boy named Ben who went through the "changing" tries to kill Thomas. Alby saves Thomas and Ben is banished that night.

Minho, the Keeper of the Runners, goes into the Maze with Alby to see what they think is their first dead Griever. Alby is stung by the creature, which causes him to attack Minho who knocks Alby out. Minho carries Alby back to the glade but he is too late and the doors are already closing. Thomas runs into the maze to help with no hesitation, becoming stranded with Minho and Alby. When they hear the sounds of grievers approaching, Minho runs away while Thomas uses the ivy to pull Alby up the wall. Thomas does his best to survive and keep Alby alive, and by morning Thomas and Minho have killed four of the Grievers.

After returning 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, but others, especially Gally, vote to lock him up as a punishment. Minho, however, nominates Thomas to become a runner although Gally does not agree. Newt is in charge while Alby recovers, so he decides to put Thomas in the pit (called the Slammer) for one night and the next day would be Thomas' first time as a proper runner. Gally still does not agree and storms off in a rage as Frypan, the cook, goes after him.

Teresa wakes from her coma, and tells Thomas telepathically that she triggered the ending. The food is running low, the sky is permanently gray, the box is not coming up, and that same night the maze doors stay open. All of a sudden Grievers enter the glade leaving the teens to fend for themselves. Several of the Gladers die, one each night, including Zart. Newt is in charge of the surviving teens when Alby becomes wounded.

The next morning, Gally punches Thomas and screams that it is all Thomas' fault. He says that the Griever will kill one Glader a night. On the third night Thomas gets stung by a Griever on purpose, which caused him to black out and get some of his memories back. Once Thomas wakes up he finds himself with Teresa in the Slammer, where they kept him at night for safety.

After Thomas and the Gladers discover the pattern of letters that the Maze creates, the Gladers decide to make a run for the exit. Half of them die but they succeed, only to find out that they were test subjects in an experiment conducted by the organization World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department (WICKED). The teenagers escape and find a video explaining that three years ago the world was scorched by the sun which killed millions of people and created a disease that attacks the brain and kills and changes people. Then out of no where Gally appears but, having been stung, is now infected. Gally has a knife in his hand and he throws the knife at Thomas against his own will, but Chuck, the youngest Glader, jumps in the way of the knife. Thomas, out of anger, then attacks Gally but he lives.

After briefly mourning Chuck's death, all six Gladers are rescued and brought to a warehouse. There, they are informed about catastrophic solar flares that caused an apocalyptic event. The rescuers reveal that the Gladers are among a group of orphaned children 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 trilogy's novels. She reveals that the group that rescued the Gladers may just be another variable in the experiment and that the Gladers were not the only group being evaluated. This leads directly into the events of the next book.


The main 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 describes him as about 16 years old, of average height, and brown-haired. He is called "Greenie", a nickname given to new arrivals. He becomes a Runner with Minho after being the first person to spend a whole night (along with Minho) in the Maze and saves Alby when he is about to die.
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 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 a '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 since he was nearly attacked by a griever. 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. Newt was described as being rather tall and muscular, with blond hair that came down over his shoulders and a square jaw. He had a limp from attempting to escape from a griever. In the books, Newt is often "the older boy", hinting that he's at least older than Thomas.
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 is 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 him 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", one of the Gladers who handle all the dirty, distasteful jobs the others don't want. He is around 13 years old. He is killed by Gally after a dagger is thrown at Thomas and he saves him
The main antagonist, Gally is 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 when he tries to save Thomas from being hit with a dagger.
A Runner. After undergoing the Changing and attempting to kill Thomas, he is banished to the Maze while still psychotic and dies overnight.
Ava Paige
The Chancellor of WICKED and the person responsible for sending teenagers into the Maze. She appears in the Epilogue in an e-mail.
Biomechanical creatures that haunt and kill the Gladers in the maze. "A large, bulbous creature the size of a cow but with no distinct shape" as the book described them. In "The Ending" they are let free into the Glade to kill one person every day.


In late 2005 mid-June, 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 for a book “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 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."[5]

Film adaptationEdit

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 portrayed 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.


  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 29 October 2013. 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 11 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.

External linksEdit