Study Guide

The Maze Runner Genre

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Young Adult Literature; Coming-Of-Age; Dystopian Literature; Science-Fiction

These genres can pretty much speak for themselves: The Maze Runner is geared toward teenage readers (although we're pretty sure a ton of adults will read it as well), which makes it young adult literature. It's a story about a boy who finds himself in an authoritarian, oppressive society in some not-too-distant future who is forced to grow up and find his place within the bleak framework he's presented with.

Incorporating elements of science-fiction—like manufactured beasts and a plague that haunts only our worst nightmares—the book makes our protagonist overcome all kinds of odds to beat the system, and learn a lot about himself in the process. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why this is a coming-of-age book… with some sci-fi thrown in for good fun.

Typically, dystopian literature has been a way to address problems that are found in today's society and then exaggerate them so that it becomes what a society is based around. For example, in Fahrenheit 451 technology is used as an evil presence that has overtaken the world in which the characters live, and its impact is profound. The Hunger Games series reflects a society in which one district is given too much power over others, leading to corruption, uninhibited consumption, and unnecessary violence.

In our case, because The Maze Runner was written as a series, the message the author might be trying to communicate hasn't made itself abundantly clear. Is he protesting the use of children as the place we rest all of our hopes for the future? The abuse of orphans? Our reliance on scientific research, or the lack thereof? Let us know when you've figured it out—we're curious, too.

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