Book Review: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner
Published By: Listening Library
Publication Date: December 6, 2009
Page Count: 400 (paperback)
Source/Format: Library Audiobook
Audience/Genre: YA Dystopian Fiction

If you're like me, you've had friends telling you to read The Maze Runner for years. You know you should listen to them, but other books always seem to jump ahead on your To Read list. Perhaps you've been waiting for the price on the Kindle or Nook version to drop. It might be that you pushed it aside to read City of Bones or The Fault in Our Stars or Divergent before the movie comes out. Or maybe you're #72 in the reservation queue at the library. Well, I'm here to tell you to stop making excuses (the Kindle price is only $6.99, the movie comes out in February 2014, and switch the library listing to the large print or audio versions, the wait for those is usually shorter) and pick up a copy of this book. Also, you have very smart friends.

Part of the trouble might be that The Maze Runner is difficult to explain in a few sentences, which generally isn't something I like about a book. Not that I like boring or uncomplicated books, but if the basics can't be distilled into a few sentences, what I like to think of as a verbal movie trailer, it makes it a hard sell when I'm recommending it to my students (and adults for that matter). But because I know you will love this engrossing and entertaining book as much as I did, here's my attempt...

  Thomas wakes up in an elevator-like contraption with no memory of his life. Sort of. He can remember what snow is, but not who he might have built a snowman with. He can remember what a forest is, the names for animals, and how foods taste, but not how old he is. He knows there is an outside world, but he can't remember anything about it. His memory is wiped clean. Once out of the box, he enters into the world of the Glade - a Lord of the Flies-esque society made up entirely of teenage boys whose memories have also been wiped (if they're lucky). As he acclimates to his new surroundings, Thomas feels drawn to certain people and tasks, but he's not sure how or why. There is a constantly changing, seemingly unsolvable maze. There are terrible creatures. There are terrible people. And there is mystery. Lots and lots of mystery.

The mystery and uncertainty is one of the things Dashner does so well in this book. Yes, the characters are great. Some of the boys are are frustrating (especially in the beginning) and some of them are annoying (Chuck, I'm looking at you) and some of them are likable (I adore Newt and Minho), but all of them are believable and, like Thomas is, you're never quite sure who you should trust. Yes, the story is intriguing (difficult to do in the currently over-saturated dystopian genre), but it's all the not-knowing that I loved. And the mystery of the Glade is shown, versus told, through the boys' actions, their whispers, their flat out refusal to explain ANYTHING to Thomas, and the finer details of their smooth-on-the-surface society.

Was I able to predict most of what happened? Yes, but this book's recommended audience starts at 6th or 7th grade. Did it matter that I saw some things coming? Not in the least, I still loved the book. So seriously, no more excuses. Go get this book and don't say I didn't warn you, after the first third you won't be able to put it down. And don't kill me over the ending - this is the first in a series, so nothing is tied up in a nice, smart bow at the end.

Last Word: A fantastic dystopian read, filled with mystery and rich characters. Well, WELL, worth your time!

Summary via Goodreads

The first book in the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series—The Maze Runner is a modern classic, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every thirty days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.


  1. Pretty sure I was one of those smart friends ;) At least the series is complete now so you don't have to wait for the sequels like I did.

    Just FYI- the movie has been moved to September 2014.

    1. Guaranteed you were one of those smart friends :)

  2. Every time I look for this book in stores, it's out. So that says something! I want to read it before the movie comes out. It sounds awesome!

    1. Chelsea, I'm the same way! If I can't find it, I know it MUST be good. :) And yes, definitely read it before the movie!

  3. Great review. I agree some things you can see coming but it is still a great book and series.

    1. Pam, I'm not a big series person and was fairly satisfied with how things wrapped up at the end, so I wasn't planning on reading the rest. Should I?

  4. I have to agree with Chelsea B. I would like to read this book before the movie comes out too. It sounds very interesting.

    1. It really was an interesting premise, Alyn! I tend to think that the dystopian genre is a bit over-saturated right now, but this one really was quite good. A different premise than I'm used to with this kind of book, anyway.

  5. This saga is amazing, my favorite is maze runner, cant wait for see the maze in the theater,Just a month more for the trailer


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