Book one in the blockbuster Maze Runner series that spawned a movie franchise and ushered in a worldwide phenomenon! And don’t miss The Fever Code, the highly-anticipated series conclusion that finally reveals the story of how the maze was built!
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 them 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: Remember. Survive. Run.
The Maze Runner and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, and Maze Runner: The Death Cure all are now major motion pictures featuring the star of MTV's Teen Wolf, Dylan O’Brien; Kaya Scodelario; Aml Ameen; Will Poulter; and Thomas Brodie-Sangster.
Also look for James Dashner’s edge-of-your-seat MORTALITY DOCTRINE series!
Praise for the Maze Runner series:
A #1 New York Times Bestselling Series
A USA Today Bestseller
A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year
An ALA-YASLA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book
An ALA-YALSA Quick Pick
“[A] mysterious survival saga that passionate fans describe as a fusion of Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, and Lost.” —EW.com
“Wonderful action writing—fast-paced…but smart and well observed.” —Newsday
“[A] nail-biting must-read.” —Seventeen.com
“Breathless, cinematic action.” —Publishers Weekly
“Heart pounding to the very last moment.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Exclamation-worthy.” —Romantic Times
“James Dashner’s illuminating prequel [The Kill Order] will thrill fans of this Maze Runner [series] and prove just as exciting for readers new to the series.” —Shelf Awareness, Starred
“Take a deep breath before you start any James Dashner book.” —Deseret News - (Random House, Inc.)
He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.
Metal ground against metal; a lurching shudder shook the floor beneath him. He fell down at the sudden movement and shuffled backward on his hands and feet, drops of sweat beading on his forehead despite the cool air. His back struck a hard metal wall; he slid along it until he hit the corner of the room. Sinking to the floor, he pulled his legs up tight against his body, hoping his eyes would soon adjust to the darkness.
With another jolt, the room jerked upward like an old lift in a mine shaft.
Harsh sounds of chains and pulleys, like the workings of an ancient steel factory, echoed through the room, bouncing off the walls with a hollow, tinny whine. The lightless elevator swayed back and forth as it ascended, turning the boy's stomach sour with nausea; a smell like burnt oil invaded his senses, making him feel worse. He wanted to cry, but no tears came; he could only sit there, alone, waiting.
My name is Thomas, he thought.
That... that was the only thing he could remember about his life.
He didn't understand how this could be possible. His mind functioned without flaw, trying to calculate his surroundings and predicament. Knowledge flooded his thoughts, facts and images, memories and details of the world and how it works. He pictured snow on trees, running down a leaf-strewn road, eating a hamburger, the moon casting a pale glow on a grassy meadow, swimming in a lake, a busy city square with hundreds of people bustling about their business.
And yet he didn't know where he came from, or how he'd gotten inside the dark lift, or who his parents were. He didn't even know his last name. Images of people flashed across his mind, but there was no recognition, their faces replaced with haunted smears of color. He couldn't think of one person he knew, or recall a single conversation.
The room continued its ascent, swaying; Thomas grew immune to the ceaseless rattling of the chains that pulled him upward. A long time passed. Minutes stretched into hours, although it was impossible to know for sure because every second seemed an eternity. No. He was smarter than that. Trusting his instincts, he knew he'd been moving for roughly half an hour.
Strangely enough, he felt his fear whisked away like a swarm of gnats caught in the wind, replaced by an intense curiosity. He wanted to know where he was and what was happening.
With a groan and then a clonk, the rising room halted; the sudden change jolted Thomas from his huddled position and threw him across the hard floor. As he scrambled to his feet, he felt the room sway less and less until it finally stilled. Everything fell silent.
A minute passed. Two. He looked in every direction but saw only darkness; he felt along the walls again, searching for a way out. But there was nothing, only the cool metal. He groaned in frustration; his echo amplified through the air, like the haunted moan of death. It faded, and silence returned. He screamed, called for help, pounded on the walls with his fists.
Thomas backed into the corner once again, folded his arms and shivered, and the fear returned. He felt a worrying shudder in his chest, as if his heart wanted to escape, to flee his body.
"Someone... help... me!" he screamed; each word ripped his throat raw.
A loud clank rang out above him and he sucked in a startled breath as he looked up. A straight line of light appeared across the ceiling of the room, and Thomas watched as it expanded. A heavy grating sound revealed double sliding doors being forced open. After so long in darkness, the light stabbed his eyes; he looked away, covering his face with both hands.
He heard noises above--voices--and fear squeezed his chest.
"Look at that shank."
"How old is he?"
"Looks like a klunk in a T-shirt."
"You're the klunk, shuck-face."
"Dude, it smells like feet down there!"
"Hope you enjoyed the one-way trip, Greenie."
"Ain't no ticket back, bro."
Thomas was hit with a wave of confusion, blistered with panic. The voices were odd, tinged with echo; some of the words were completely foreign--others felt familiar. He willed his eyes to adjust as he squinted toward the light and those speaking. At first he could see only shifting shadows, but they soon turned into the shapes of bodies--people bending over the hole in the ceiling, looking down at him, pointing.
And then, as if the lens of a camera had sharpened its focus, the faces cleared. They were boys, all of them--some young, some older. Thomas didn't know what he'd expected, but seeing those faces puzzled him. They were just teenagers. Kids. Some of his fear melted away, but not enough to calm his racing heart.
Someone lowered a rope from above, the end of it tied into a big loop. Thomas hesitated, then stepped into it with his right foot and clutched the rope as he was yanked toward the sky. Hands reached down, lots of hands, grabbing him by his clothes, pulling him up. The world seemed to spin, a swirling mist of faces and color and light. A storm of emotions wrenched his gut, twisted and pulled; he wanted to scream, cry, throw up. The chorus of voices had grown silent, but someone spoke as they yanked him over the sharp edge of the dark box. And Thomas knew he'd never forget the words.
"Nice to meet ya, shank," the boy said. "Welcome to the Glade."
As with many recent stories being spread over multiple volumes, this often-exciting but ultimately frustrating opener reads more like an extended prologue than a fully realized novel. Thomas, his memory wiped out, is thrust into the center of an enormous maze, where other teens have constructed a survivalist society. No one knows why they're there, or where they came from, but each day they send out runners into the constantly shifting, monster-infested labyrinth to search for a way out. As memories start to trickle back in and circumstances grow increasingly dire, Thomas suspects he knows more about the maze than he should. The withholding and then revelation of crucial information tend toward contrivance and convenience, but the tantalizing hints of a ravaged world outside make for gripping reading. Although this opening volume will appeal to the same audience as hot dystopian thrillers like The Hunger Games (2008), it doesn't promise the same level of devotion. With much of the more intriguing head-game aspects left unexplored, though, the potential for a rousing continuation of the story certainly exists. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
Though Dashner wrapped up his best-selling Maze Runner trilogy with 2011's The Death Cure, he returns to the well with this prequel, telling the backstory of how the world's population came to be infected with the psychotic lunacy disease that would lead scientists to put teens through a series of sadistic tests in the name of finding a cure. We meet Mark and Trina soon after ravenous sun flares wipe out a good swath of humanity, living tooth and nail in a small settlement until a gang of hazmat-suited folks drop from the sky and shoot everyone up with virus-laden darts. The quest to find answers and save their band of friends takes them straight into a bleak heart of darkness. The story's burdened by thin characters, plot contrivances, and generally tortured logic, but the series' many readers aren't in it for the craft. The draw is the gobs of gruesome violence and raving lunacy in the back-to-back, extended action sequences. And there's plenty such fare here, even if it all feels like the stakes are lowered a bit by knowing the inevitable outcome. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews
Thomas wakes up with no memory, surrounded by boys around his own age. He has been placed in a maze with obstacles and monsters to fight, but more important is figuring out how he got there--and what happened to the adults. The story is fast-paced and gripping, with unexpected twists (though readers familiar with sci-fi of this type may not be surprised). Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews
Set about a year after the sun flares that destroyed the world, this prequel to The Maze Runner trilogy explains the origins of the deadly Flare virus and the discovery of the first Immune. It doesn't stand alone, but fans of the series will appreciate this fast-paced addition to the canon, as will die-hard post-apocalyptic readers who can overlook the plot's tedium.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 6–10—Thomas wakes up in an elevator, remembering nothing but his own name. He emerges into a world of about 60 teen boys who have learned to survive in a completely enclosed environment, subsisting on their own agriculture and supplies from below. A new boy arrives every 30 days. The original group has been in "the glade" for two years, trying to find a way to escape through a maze that surrounds their living space. They have begun to give up hope. Then a comatose girl arrives with a strange note, and their world begins to change. There are some great, fast-paced action scenes, particularly those involving the nightmarish Grievers who plague the boys. Thomas is a likable protagonist who uses the information available to him and his relationships (including his ties to the girl, Teresa) to lead the Gladers. Unfortunately, the question of whether the teens will escape the maze is answered 30 pages before the book ends, and the intervening chapter loses momentum. The epilogue, which would be deliciously creepy coming immediately after the plot resolves, fails to pack a punch as a result. That said, The Maze Runner has a great hook, and fans of dystopian literature, particularly older fans of Jeanne DuPrau's The City of Ember (Random, 2003), will likely enjoy this title and ask for the inevitable sequel.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH
[Page 124]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 7 Up—In his short life, Mark has seen sun flares that killed millions, including his family and beloved younger sister. Afterward, floods, food shortages, and continued devastating heat, along with individuals bent on surviving at all costs, have made his chances pretty bleak. Against all odds, he and a close-knit group of other survivors move inland and set up a community together. But before long, a flying ship brings something wholly unfamiliar: a disease, transmitted initially by darts, but soon spread person to person at an alarming rate. Mark's friends all work together to figure out what this illness is, how it spreads, and why it drives people mad, while trying to hold onto hope for themselves and save others. A prequel to the "Maze Runner" series (Delacorte), this story does indeed show how the world started to fall apart prior to Thomas's time in the Maze. However, Thomas's and Teresa's stories are contained to the prologue and epilogue, so readers hoping for information about how WICKED began will be disappointed. Dashner achieves a high level of emotional involvement for readers in this prequel. Mark knew and loved his family, which makes him a more relatable character than memory-challenged Thomas. The action is nonstop, although a little unrealistic at times, and Mark seems wise beyond his years. This novel works well as a stand-alone.—Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ
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