Dystopian Review: The Maze Runner

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After The Hunger Games changed the world of YA fiction, The Maze Runner was the first big YA dystopian book written, well, for boys. Naturally, people ate it up. It was a refreshing idea by a male author about a male character that didn’t involve “the big choice” (Hunger Games‘s “reaping” or Divergent‘s “decision day”.)

In short? Boys are stuck in the center of a giant maze and have spent years trying to escape it. Now that the food supply has run out, they need to escape before they starve or get killed by the deadly beasts that roam the maze.

Basically, it’s Lord of the Flies meets Jurassic Park. (Tweet this)

Should you read The Maze Runner?

I got sucked into the book from the very start. The mystery factor is the main draw for this book. While the characters are likeable and the story world pretty epic, the “big mystery” and the giant countdown are the cornerstones of the book. That being said, naturally we get some answers by the end of the book and this is where the story lost me. The big “why” didn’t make sense. Some reading friends confirmed the “big reveal” was, indeed, what I’d gathered it was. Not believable.

So that’s the plot.The_Maze_Runner_cover

Characters? Hm…Thomas wasn’t likeable in my humble — okay, slightly snotty — opinion. He came off as compassionless and seemed to succeed at every external pursuit he made. There wasn’t enough growth in him therefore leaving me with little reason to remember him.

So, should you read it? Here’s my conclusion.


It’s a darker YA dystopian that’s obviously famous enough to be turned into a movie. A lot of people like it. I didn’t. Then again, I also haven’t finished the series (and don’t plan to.) Apparently the other books get a little better. Overall two stars. (Here’s my full Goodreads review of The Maze Runner.)

Should you watch The Maze Runner?

I went to see the movie because, often times if I don’t like the book I’ll end up liking the movie (I know, I’m weird.) And I’d hoped the movie would clear up the big “why” behind the maze for me, since the book didn’t.

The movie, as movies usually do, veered away from the book quite a bit. But I’m not one to compare. This is one of those movies you’ll want to watch before reading the book. (Tweet this) Why? Because…as disappointing as the book’s plot was…it was still better than the movie.Maze-Runner-Movie-Poster


  • The characters (mainly Thomas) were more likable. I felt more compassion for him and he seemed like someone I could be friends with.
  • It was faster paced. The movie got to the nitty gritty quickly. We’re in a maze. Escape! The end. Because of this, it never felt dragging or boring, however it lost the “big mystery” tension that the book captured.
  • It didn’t seem as dark. I don’t like creepy and the book got creepy. The movie got intense, which is significantly different than creepy. I appreciated that.
  • The ending (I’m talking the last 20 seconds, not the conclusion) was far more gripping than that in the book because it created another mystery and left us with questions.


  • The Grievers (aka monsters trying to kill the kids.) I found them a lot creepier in the book.
  • The culture of the maze and the glade were somewhat overlooked. Half the reason we grow to care about escaping the maze in the book is because we see how taxing it’s been on the inhabitants to live in the center of it for so long. I don’t think the movie captured that so well.
  • The fight to escape. I won’t give any spoilers, but let me just say that the ending decisions of some of the gladers versus the kids who wanted to escape just didn’t make sense. It wasn’t believable to their characters or to the situation.
  • Generic. I hate to say it, but despite the awesome premise, the movie fell into the typical Hollywood generic action flick by the end. It was predictable and the “escape” was far from original.

Overall, the movie was entertaining, but weak — both from a “movie only” standpoint and a “movie-based-off-a-book” standpoint. (Tweet this) However, according to some of the giggly girls at our youth night, the movie was a smash because, “Ahem! Cute boys!”

Guess I missed the memo. (Or, I’m just distracted by my extra attractive hubby.)

Have you read The Maze Runner or seen the movie? What did you think? (Tweet this!)



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About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. I felt the same way about the movie. It was alright. I have no desire to watch it again, or read the book.

  2. My feelings exactly. The book was okay, a 3 star for me. I was curious to see what they would do with the movie, but it was a major let down. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had seen the movie first, but it definitely wouldn’t have been a favorite. The second book is better, in my opinion, but I don’t plan to read the next two.

    • I’ve heard the second book is much better. Maybe someday I’ll read it. 😉 It seems they were successful enough to go into a second movie. I might just wait and watch that first.

  3. I’m thankful for you sharing your thoughts Nadine even though I’m bummed. I was thinking about buying the book because I really enjoyed the movie, but after reading your review I know it’s not for me. Thanks for sharing as I really trust your insight!

    • Sorry it’s such a bummer. 🙁 I, too, wish it could have been better. The book isn’t awful, it just…didn’t really meet its potential. Hopefully with my next dystopian review, I’ll have a book recommendation! Now just pour your time into a better read! 🙂

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