Study Guide

The Maze Runner

By James Dashner

The Maze Runner Introduction

Ever had a really rough morning where you wake up in a dingy elevator and can't remember how you got there, or anything else? And then you find yourself in a fight for your life during a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future?

No?

Well, that's what happens to our protagonist Thomas in The Maze Runner, written by James Dashner and published in 2009.

Described as "Lord of the Flies meets Ender's Game meets Holes" by Dashner himself, The Maze Runner is Dashner's first attempt at conquering a national market with his writing. Based on its wild reception, we can safely say he succeeded: it was a Top 10 New York Times National Bestseller for over 14 weeks and it won more Young Adult book awards than you can shake a stick at. (See the list here.) It was such a success, in fact, that it is now the first of a five-book series, so if you like it, get excited for four more. The best part of a series, after all, is that you can delay the my-book-is-over-how-is-the-world-still-spinning depression that sets in after a particularly good read is over.

This book has everything: action, adventure, hybrid monsters called Grievers that resemble a cross between boogers and the Terminator, and even a budding romance. But, thankfully, no kissing.

The Maze Runner is perfect for someone who loves to read but doesn't like to be reminded by long words and difficult premises that they're reading. This book will fly through your brain as though your eyeballs have magically discovered a way to project a movie that is directly translated from words on a page. And that's not bad—not bad at all.

What is The Maze Runner About and Why Should I Care?

The Maze Runner is sitting at the top of the bestseller list because dystopian young adult literature is da bomb right now. Books like the Divergence series, the Hunger Games series, and Enders Game are all so hot that they are being made into movies—and for good reason.

When a society is thrown into turmoil—be it economic crisis, political dysfunction, or a changing world power dynamic (any of that sound familiar?)—we tend to turn to fiction in a really big way. When life seems too miserable for words, why not bury your face in a book that allows you to escape into a completely different world?

Young adults especially have very good reason to love these books. Life is hard enough when your face looks like the surface of the moon and school feels like some elaborate form of psychological torture. Novels like The Maze Runner are perfect because they remind you that life could be worse. Hey—at least you aren't going through these things while fighting for your life in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

The Maze Runner is the perfect combination of good story-telling, imaginative plot-twists, and finger-biting intrigue all neatly packaged in simple language and short chapters that make you feel like you can read at the speed of light.

In a best-case scenario, you should read this book because you love fantasy and enjoy reading for the sheer pleasure of it. Worst-case scenario, you can tell all of your friends that you've read it already, and you're like, totally Team Thomas.

The Maze Runner Resources

Websites

James Dashner Blogspot
Read all about the author's account of how the book came to life, and everything he's accomplished since then.

This Guy Loves Making Websites
James Dashner's own website—totally different from a blog, right?

Movie or TV Productions

The Maze Runner
IMDB information on the movie.

Articles and Interviews

Not Everyone Has Their Book Turned Into a Movie - 1
Two-part interview with Dashner about making The Maze Runner movie, as well as how he developed the series.

Not Everyone Has Their Book Turned Into a Movie - 2
Part two.

Brief Book Blurb
Book review that summarizes the plot quite nicely.

Video

Comic-Con 2013 Panel (A.K.A. The Ultimate Nerd Party)
The stars of the movie answer questions about their roles in the production.

Images

Don't Judge
Come on… this is so 2009.

Dude, Do You See What I See?
Image from the movie of the boys getting ready to escape the Maze.

Let's Throw Him To The Grievers
Just kidding, they're totally probably maybe helping him… we hope.

I Like That Boulder
Image of the Maze—yeah CGI.

Minho Found Nutella
At least, were pretty sure that's why they're running into the Maze….