The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1) by James Dashner


When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Not So Fun Fact: I accidentally bought the UK version of this book (who does that?!), so all the meters, stone, and centimeter talk didn’t make sense, but I don’t blame the book for that, so it won’t bring down the rating.

It seldom happens that the movie adaptation of a particular novel helps me enjoy said novel, more. So you can imagine my surprise when this exact thing happened. What do I mean by this?

The Maze Runner moved very sluggishly, and majority of the characters were stale, like our MC Thomas. Since I enjoyed the movie and there weren’t a ton of differences between the two, I was able to imagine the movie playing in my mind as I read; This helped me tremendously! It’s amazing how fast I finished it after that switch was flipped in my mind. For me watching the movie first was the best idea.

I’m not going to take you through the beginning because, frankly, it was boring and I’d be wasting my time retelling the exposition. This first book was a lot of world-building, however this wasn’t beneficial because it’s the world inside the maze that Dashner was building. Since the second book doesn’t take place within the maze, this extensive building was useless. If there was suspense surrounding the who, what, where and why then I could handle that, but the suspense lies elsewhere. The suspense that exist within the novel is about Thomas’ role within the maze and how to escape, which completely neglected why they’re there to begin with. This bothered me almost as much as my initial opinion of Thomas.

Like I said before the characters are really, really stale – minus a few exceptions – which didn’t allow me to feel connected to the characters at first. However, I proceeded to read the novel while imagining the movie (as I stated above) and Thomas’ stupid actions, decision and dull inner voice became the movie and everything unfolded well. His constant barrage of questions and irritating mirror-like emotions became something much more fierce and wonderful until I liked the characters, except for Theresa.

This is a very serious question, and I’d really like an answer.

Q: What was the purpose of Theresa?

A: unknown (can someone please answer?)

That’s the last mention of her character in this post.

There were some characters that I loved, like Minho, Newt, and Chuck. Minho is overflowing with sarcasm and his character has to be the most genuine and honest throughout the novel. You love him from the moment he’s introduced to you (as Thomas) – his humor is wonderful in a world devoid of real happiness. Newt is described differently in the novel than in the movie, however his attitude and calm nature is ever prevalent throughout the book. Chuck has a larger role in the movie than he did in the novel, but he’s still this cute kid just trying to fit-in with the big guys. His positive attitude gravitated me toward him and once you decide to read it, I’m sure you’ll feel the same.

Since this novel is a dystopian, set apart from the rest of the world, the kids there are surviving and adapting to their environment, which cannot be done without a hierarchy and a workforce. Everyone in the Glade (where the boys live, believed to be at the center of the maze) has jobs like cooking, mopers (janitor), runners (explorers of the maze), etc. the job you get depends on your skill-set and it keeps the Glade running efficiently. There are leaders to each group and they’re like the union bosses for each career “choice”, with Alby being the leader of everything. This setup, in my opinion, was awesome and showcased what the story was meant to be about, but it just fell flat on many other points.

Words fail me to describe the conflict present in the novel.

There’s the Griever: Machine/Animal creatures that sting their prey with a substance. Man vs. Technology

There’s W.I.C.K.E.D: A mysterious acronym that is mentioned much too early in the novel, and adds nothing to the plot – so far. (It’d be a spoiler to tell the actual definition) Man vs. Society

There’s Gally (is that right?): A Leader within the Glade that doesn’t add anything important or interesting to the novel, i.e, a waste of ink. Man vs. Man

There’s the Maze: The home of the Grievers and the labyrinth of uselessness. Man vs. Nature

There’s the Changing: After said Griever stings you with their poison(?), you go through the hallucinations and learn all this important information that turns most people semi-crazy. Man vs. Nature

There’s Thomas believing he’s the enemy: After certain events transpire Thomas believes he might be a foe, not a friend to the captors of the Glade. Man vs. Self

You’d think with this many obstacles to overcome this story would be a fat, juicy adventure…yet, it fails each time! Every type of conflict is utilized in this novel, however it failed to execute one and still barely held onto a plot.

Another issue that plagued me was the language. There were a lot of shuckface’s, flintheads, and klucks being thrown around.

See how you don’t understand what I’m talking about? Well that’s how I felt about the language in this book. Dashner had a cute idea to minimize actual swear words, and provide the boys with their own language that developed in the Glade, but it wasn’t altogether successful. It felt forced and didn’t flow with the dialogue. Although I do appreciate there not being any real cursing in the novel because some YA novels just include waaaaay too much of it, I couldn’t stop myself from wondering why these teenage boys didn’t use real curse words……

Will I read book two? Yes. I’ve actually already bought it, but only because I’ve seen the second movie and interested in knowing what’s been modified.

Overall, the amount of oomph missing from this book is apparent to anyone who reads it, and cannot be completely redeemed. The main reason I enjoyed this novel was because I enjoyed the movie for what it was – a teenage dystopian, adventure. Don’t expect too much from this novel, especially for those individuals who haven’t seen the movie.

Have you read this book? If so, what are your opinions? Did you happen to catch the movie?



19 thoughts on “The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1) by James Dashner

  1. jessreadingnook says:

    Your review expresses my feelings about this book pretty accurately. I hated the slang, the beginning was incredibly boring, and Thomas’ personality was dull. As for Theresa? If you figure out the answer to your question, let me know because right now she only seems like a weak plot device. Personally, I don’t plan to read the next book but who knows, may your review of it will change my mind ;).

    • Codie says:

      Omg wasn’t he dull?! I know his memory was erased but come on, is he really that boring. Haha, I’ll keep you posted about Theresa, although I’m not confident I’ll find the answer. I hope it’s not a big disappointment because I’ve heard it’s completely different from the movie, which I enjoyed.

  2. Bookenstein says:

    I’m so glad I am not the only one. I thought the beginning was just oh so boring, and the language made me roll my eyes one too many times. Maybe one day. I might have to watch the movie to get excited about it, though.

    • Codie says:

      Lol me too! Especially when Thomas started picking up on the lingo – just no. Trust me, you’re not the only one, but watching the movie and enjoying it is the only reason I finished it. I highly recommend ignoring the boring picture lain out before you and just watch the movie in your mind 😀

    • Codie says:

      So did I! It was much better than the book, but I hope you decide to finish it 🙂 Haha, for bragging rights if nothing else.

  3. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    haha- I never even realised there was a difference in UK and US versions till literally this second- I know that sounds daft, but I always wondered why they did separate editions :/ gosh I’m so daft :p I’ve heard similar things about the book being slow- that’s one of the things that was good about the movie- it was so fast-paced. I was surprised to hear the book’s not the same. Still not sure I’ll read it cos of that. Also the characters don’t sound so promising now… But my biggest problem has always been the concept- it just confuses me- at the end of the movie I just decided I had no interest in it after they got out of the maze and it was revealed to all have been an experiment to save the human race- or something… I just don’t get why you’d do experiments with the only people immune to a disease that could get them killed. Surely you’d want them all to stay alive as long as possible so you can find a cure? I just don’t get the concept. Great review though!

    • Codie says:

      It might be daft, but I didn’t know the difference until I read the book either lol. But now I know the difference and can avoid them in the future – I barely know the US system, yet along the metric system lol. The book is very slow, which is the biggest contrast to the movie for book 1. If you don’t like sluggish books I wouldn’t recommend it. And the concept isn’t the most exciting. And that’s a major hole in the storyline – if they’re already the strong and survived then why weed- out the weaklings of the strong…dumb. WICKED isn’t even a smart acronym, like who would trust a company called wicked? Thank you! Although it’s not for everyone I hope you’ll consider reading it.

      • theorangutanlibrarian says:

        haha I would just never know the difference- but I’m sure it would bother me too!! yeah I’m not a fan of sluggish books. Yeah exactly!! That left me so confused- and there’s no satisfactory explanation. I watched the movie with someone who was a fan of the book and they kept saying- oh it makes sense if you read the books- but since then I’ve seen enough spoilers and I still don’t see how it could ever make sense. Clearly the author didn’t think that through. Haha yeah that is so stupid!! I hate when evil things have obviously evil names. You’re welcome 🙂 Well I won’t go out of my way, but if it turns up in my library I will give it a go 🙂

      • Codie says:

        Nope. Nothing is explained whatsoever, but I’m holding out for book 2 to possibly learn something previously unexplained – my hopes aren’t high. Haha, I agree Dashner had a plot that even he couldn’t follow. Exactly, like, people are supposed to trust their children with a group named wicked?? Ummmm nope, never going to happen.

      • Codie says:

        Sorry for the late reply (you’ll probably see that often), for some reason I have like a whole bundle of comments I’ve never seen that were pending…Anywho, so true! I hope the answer isn’t disappointing – no need for a repeat of Divergent.

      • Codie says:

        Well I’ve seen the amount of comments that come through your post – you have a very good excuse to be quite lax lol.

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