The Maze Runner by James Dashner Review: Mystery of the Maze

September 19, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

The Maze Runner by James Dashner Review: Mystery of the MazeThe Maze Runner (Movie Tie In) by James Dashner
Series: The Maze Runner #1
Published by Chicken House on 4 September 2014
Source: Publisher
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dystopian, Mystery, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository
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When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas can remember is his first name. But he's not alone. He's surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade, an encampment at the centre of a bizarre maze.

Like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they came to be there, or what's happening to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything to find out.

Jeann’s Thoughts

Being trapped in a maze with no escape and no memories of who you are is really terrifying, and The Maze Runner captured this sense of constant danger and foreboding.

The start of The Maze Runner presented a steep learning curve, with new slang to get used to. Thomas wakes up in a strange new place where people speak differently, have a whole new way of doing things, and are assigned different roles in the Glade for survival. They need to find an escape route to the maze which they live in, which is home to deadly Grievers. Along with not knowing who he is, where they are trapped and the threats of the maze, Thomas also has to deal with a mysterious girl in a coma and the suspicion of the Gladers.

“Can’t take a chance that one day, in one spot, somewhere, an exit might appear. We can’t give up. Ever.”

With so much world building and development, the book is slow and draggy, as we learn about the Gladers assigning ‘Runners’ to discover and document the paths of the maze. The depth of world is explored quite well, and the focus is definitely on the mystery of the maze. It wasn’t until halfway through the book when I really started getting into it, as Thomas started making discoveries about the maze and I really wanted to find out where it was all heading. I relished all the hints and the secrets and wanted to know what was going on, despite the slow build up.

Thomas was a really courageous, switched on guy who is brave and intelligent – pretty much a hero character. It’s convenient to have him discover the secrets of the maze after the Gladers have been working at it for 2 years, but hero characters like this are pretty standard, so I just went with it.

“Just follow me and run like your life depends on it. Because it does.” – Thomas 

What depresses me about dystopian trilogies like The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games though, is that it never really ends until the end of the series. And even so, you’re betting on a proper ending, which isn’t guaranteed. The ending wasn’t really mind whopping or anything, perhaps because I’ve read so many dystopians by now I know what to expect.

Even so, The Maze Runner presents an interesting dystopian story with Gladers who are trapped in a dangerous maze. The characters and the slang will grow on you as you continue throughout the book,and you’ll be thoroughly invested in the end. It’s kind of refreshing to read something that takes the time to build up, instead of launching into typical storylines that made me frustrated with dystopians in the first place.

“Holy crap, I’m scared.”
“Holy crap, you’re human. You should be scared.”


James Dashner writes with precision, weaving in elements of mystery, action, survival and character development in The Maze Runner. He knows the story he has to tell, and moves away from the typical dystopian fare and focuses on the building up the dark, foreboding setting and the slow reveal of the mystery.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Maze Runner, and I’m now properly equipped to see the movie.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Thank you to Scholastic Australia for sending me this review copy in exchange for an honest review.


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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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35 responses to “The Maze Runner by James Dashner Review: Mystery of the Maze

  1. It was really full on and that's definitely an accurate description of what it felt like going into the world with Thomas. The language was pretty weird, but I ended up getting used to it after a while. I don't think I'd read the next ones Romi, the ending just really frustrated me with the blatant cliffhanger and not tying things up. I did watch the movie though, and I was disappointed that the movie didn't feature more of the original concept of the book.

  2. I had a bit of the same problem with the beginning- it took me a while to get into, and learning all these new things, from language to characters to the place we found ourselves as readers in, it was a bit full on. We were basically thrown into the middle of things like Thomas was, and we had to learn alongside him.

    I really didn't like the new language, myself- I could see where the swears and things were derived from, and sensing that made me uncomfortable, because they didn't seem to be particularly light, but I did really enjoy the book! I liked the way it was kind of slow whilst still being exciting and nervewracking, though unfortunately this didn't follow on so well to the next books for me.

    Do you plan on reading the other two in the series, Jeann?
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  3. I just watched the movie yesterday~ In fact, I read the books over a year ago, but with your review things came flooding back. I found the beginning was rather slow, and then picked up, and I will say this: the first book is the worst of the series! After that, it only gets better. I remember the prequel, of all books, being my favourite. And Minho is definitely my favourite character!

    Nothing was how I imagined it would be or look in the movie, but the did do a good job of it, and portrayed Thomas, Alby and Minho wonderfully <3 I thought the beginning of the movie was slow – like the book, but then it picks right up ^^
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  4. MAZE RUNNER! The movie trailer looks so good! I haven't read the book, but I think the concept itself is really unique! And I guess you're not going to get a true end until you finish the entire series, Jeann! Are all the books out already???
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  5. Great review. I have had this series for so long now, but still haven't got to it. I am planning to make time as soon as the movie is out here. Then I am going to probably binge read the whole series before seeing the film. I am nervous though because I have heard the last book is really bad, and I had disappointing finales.

  6. Oh, yes… You do realize how glad I am that you enjoyed this, lovely! I've rarely met people who've given this a 5 star rating. But, all in all, I've heard that the next books are even more amazing and the story just begins to pace up and become fast-paced and action-packed! I normally love all dystopian (it's my favourite genre, can't complain!) but this one was such a huge let-down for me. Hmmph. Awesome review! <3

    • I know, after hearing everyone else's thoughts on it, I was really keen to see what I thought about it myself – and was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it. Too bad it wasn't for you, hun!

  7. I'll have to confess that I didn't enjoy this as much as you did, but I am glad you liked it despite its flaws! I do agree that the whole mystery of the maze is quite intriguing, and you can't help but be on the edge of your seat as it unravels. Like you said, this is definitely a book that might be more suitable to people who aren't necessarily big readers of the dystopian genre, because if you're experienced in the genre you'll probably be able to guess the twists since they are a bit cliche. Nonetheless, I am glad you enjoyed it so much and can't wait to hear your thoughts on the movie when you see it!
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    • Zoe, I miss you! I haven't been blog hopping much lately because it's been a busy time at work. I can see why this wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, it was definitely slow and a steep learning curve at the start. And yes, it was predictable for me but I still ended up enjoying it. Thank you lovely!

  8. Yes now you can see the movie! I'm interested to see what you think. I loved The Maze Runner but like you said with dystopian trilogies the ending isn't until the last book! I guess it's to keep you interested the whole time but sometimes us fans need some closure. I'm glad you decided to read the book before the movie because I went with my friends and they hadn't read it and they were so confused throughout the whole movie. Great review, can't wait to see your opinion on the movie so we can discuss!
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    • I'm really excited about the movie, I'm seeing it next weekend and now that I know what is coming, I'm really keen! Can't wait to hear what you think as well. Too bad it was confusing for them. I know what you mean about the closure, and I wish it didn't take a whole series to offer it to us. Thank you lovely! Will definitely hit you up when I watch it.

  9. I really want to read this book because of the movie coming out. But if I'm honest my track record isn't very good when it comes to reading it because of the film. Like the Hunger Games and I didn't enjoy them as much as the movie. It sort of reminds me of a Harry Potter dystopia. LOL! I'll probably will read this some time soon! Lovely review, Jeann! 😀
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    • LOL Harry Potter dystopia, hilarious! Now that would be really interesting. Glad to hear you want to read it, I absolutely HAVE to read the book before the movie lol. TBH if the movie wasn't coming out I wouldn't have picked this up so quickly. Thank you Emma!

    • I don't think I will read the rest of the series, because I haven't heard as good things about it. Also I don't want to get to the last book to find out that we don't have closure! Thanks Cyn 🙂 Can't wait to see the movie.

  10. I have this book on my kindle and I've been tempted to read it because the movie is coming out today but I'm so on the fence. I've heard that it's a bit slow to get going as well and I'm feeling a bit lazy to read it. Maybe because I'm so knee-deep in Outlander and those books start off slow that I'm hesitant to start another series that's the same even though they're different sub-genres. But your review, as always are FABULOUS Jeann!! ♥
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    • It is SO slow going Cristina, but I'm really glad I pushed through because it felt like it paid off by the end. Plus I'm seeing the movie next week, can't watch it without reading the book hehe! I know what you mean about reading similar genres at one time, it gets a bit much doesn't it! Thank you so much lovely x

  11. I have to admit I ADORED this one…although I had my own private version of the movie (with the awesome actors) playing in my head while I read it. lol I'm just So excited for the movie!! It's too awesome with the sneak peeks and previews. *fangirls quietly* Still, it was very confusing at first, right? And the language was odd. Sometimes I didn't mind it, but then some of the words were just so close to the "normal" versions that I wondered why they'd bothered??
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    • Absolutely, it definitely played in my head especially with all the slang and the maze and everything. I watched the trailer first before delving into the book which played a good part. Yes, the language was definitely odd but by the end when Thomas uses it himself we realise that it has grown on us XD

  12. I read this one a couple of years ago now, so it's been quite some time, but from what I remember, I agree with what you've said — especially about the beginning of the book dragging. I still haven't read the next two in the series, and honestly I'm not sure if I'll ever, though I do have to admit I'm super excited for the film adaptation. I think it'll look really good on screen.
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    • Definitely will be great for a movie with all the action and world building and what not. I think it will translate really well and I'm looking forward to it. I don't think I'll read the next two books either, unless those get made into a movie too, then maybe.

  13. I just reviewed this one too Jeann and absolutely loved it! LOVED IT! It really is a no nonsense type of book and I'm so glad there was no instant love or awkward romance, it really would have distracted from the situation these boys found themselves in. When they show the movie trailer in ad breaks, I can imagine that kid from Teen Wolf as Thomas, I pictured him more as the kid who played Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This kid

    I think this is one series that will build the suspense and slowly reveal itself if you have the patience. I love dystopians, so I'm looking forward to continuing on with the series. Fabulous review <3
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    • Oooh going to check out your review now, I need to catch up! I definitely think it would be awesome, no wonder everyone is raving about Thomas, I haven't seen teen wolf yet. The suspense building was the best part of the novel, even though there were other parts which kind of took a while getting used to. I ended up enjoying it though. That actor is a great Thomas!

  14. I have already read the whole series during my pre-blogging days and I must warn you that the next two books weren't as good as the first. But that is just my opinion. I am glad that you actually enjoyed this one despite the slow and draggy parts.

    I had a hard time getting into the slang but as the story progressed, I found myself getting used to it. Who is your favorite character on this book? I go for Minho. Thomas was really an idealized character.

    Great review, Jeann!
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    • Yeah, I don't think I'll pick up the 2nd two books to be honest, after what everyone else has said about them. I no longer feel the compulsive need to finish every series I start, yay! I pretty much picked this book up for the movie which I'm now prepared for. I totally agree with Thomas being an idealised character – I'm not actually sure who was my favourite.

  15. I read this a couple of years ago and wasn't too impressed. I think the younger me did not appreciate being bombarded by that creative, but nonetheless confusing, lingo/jargon. But with the movie now out (and how could I ever skip it–I mean, c'mon, it's Dylan O'Brian!!) I feel like I should give it a second go…

    I've read soooo many dystopias by now that I just don't get impressed anymore. And you're right. Those unclimatic, unresolved endings just buuug me so much! Great review, Jeann!! x
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    • Yeah, that jargon took a while for even the adult me to get used to, but by the end of it I found it to be quite creative and charming. It's so true Jess, by the time we reach the end of yet another dystopian we're just like….*groans*

  16. I'm reading this soon as well! I'm a bit worried, actually, because there are some mixed reviews on it (especially the next two books in the series) but we're going to see the movie soon, so I really need to get started! I don't read too many dystopians so hopefully it will be a nice change.
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