REVIEW: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
My overall rating: 2.5/5
Get it here from Amazon
First thoughts

I asked for The Maze Runner for Christmas years ago and it has been sitting on my bookshelf ever since. I'm not sure why but I never picked it up until now. I had just finished The Night Circus and didn't have enough money to buy a brand new book so I decided to finally read it.

I probably should have read it when I received it, I would have liked it a lot more back then.

Good bits

The Maze Runner's main selling point was that fans of The Hunger Games would like it. Personally I disagree with that method but hey ho, I guess it worked. I never finished The Hunger Games, I only read the first few chapters or so which is probably why I thought the story line for The Maze Runner was really cool. If I had read The Hunger Games before, I would have probably thought it was a massive rip off. Nevertheless, The Maze Runner was something I had never come across before so I was automatically sucked into the story.

One thing I noticed straight away was that the descriptive writing is really good. The way Dashner describes the Glade makes it so easy to picture it vividly in my mind, making the whole reading experience that much more enjoyable.

In theory, I like the idea of replacing swearwords with their own made-up language. I think it's a good way to keep it PG and not have a negative influence on younger readers. But, and this is a big but, it doesn't actually achieve that. It doesn't make much of a difference whether they're made up or the real deal. It still teaches children that profanity is cool and all teenagers do it, but isn't that what you're trying to avoid? The sentiment is good but it just doesn't work. Imagine a mother hearing their young son calling other children 'shuck-faces'. She won't care if it's an official swear word or not; the aggression behind the word is still there.
I am really impressed with Thomas' character development. He basically went from being a crybaby to a strong leader and it made total sense. Thomas' character development makes The Maze Runner a Bildungsroman because it is so clear how all the nasty things that happened to him shaped his character. He had a lot to deal with and Dashner is fantastic at showing what effect it had on him. The only criticism I have is that the character development was somewhat unrealistically quick. The Maze Runner is a relatively short book and sometimes felt a little rushed, so as a consequence it seems as though Thomas changed drastically in a very short amount of time. But maybe that's what Dashner was going for. Quality not quantity.

Even though there were lots of predictable parts of the book (I'll get to that later), I honestly didn't see what WICKED stood for coming. Dashner completely took me by surprise when he revealed it stood for 'World in Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department'. I'm not sure why I never put two and two together.

Bad bits
From the very first page the writing style annoyed me. For example, 'strangely enough, he felt his fear whisked away like a swarm of gnats caught in the wind, replaced by an intense curiosity'. . . What strange simile. It's just jarring. Throughout the book there were certain lines I couldn't believe actually made it past the first draft. Like 'Thomas felt a pang of guilt over Chuck - felt sorry for him' and '"Days half over," Minho replied as he looked at his watch emotionally'. . . Does Minho have strong feelings for his watch or what? I just don't get it.

Alongside the writing style, the format didn't make sense either. Chapters ended in the middle of a scene and then would pick up right where it left off as if nothing happened. What's the point of that?

I know I said I liked Dashner's descriptive writing but sometimes he chooses to go into detail about things that are irrelevant and leaves out the bits that are supposed to be interesting. He goes into a boring amount of detail on uninteresting things and then says the Grievers look like a 'large, bulbous creature of no distinct shape'. . . 'No distinct shape'?! They're supposed to be the main villains in the story and yet we have no idea what they look like. Hmm.

Lots of things about the plot didn't make sense. For example, it was never explained why Thomas wasn't allowed to know anything about the Glade when he first arrived. The secrecy had no reasoning behind it. It wasn't an if-I-told-you-I'd-have-to-kill-you situation, was it? There was genuinely no reason why he couldn't be told what was going on.

As I said before, I was able to predict half the story. It was painfully obvious that Thomas was involved with the Creators the whole way through, and I really wasn't shocked when Chuck died. The plot-twists weren't really plot-twists when you could see it coming since the beginning.

In my opinion, Gally's disappearance was overlooked massively. I know he wasn't supposed to be a popular character but no one blinked an eye when he went missing. I think it's unrealistic to think that when a boy - and not just any boy, a Keeper - in a group of 40 or so disappears, no one cares. There was barely any detail on his actual disappearance and then it was never mentioned again even though he's a main character. And then oh, look, he returns out of the blue, disappears once more and then BAM back again.

To be honest, there are a fair few more issues I had with The Maze Runner but I'm going to stop there to prevent this becoming a rant rather than a review.


I gave The Maze Runner a respectable 2.5 out of 5 on Goodreads because although I really liked the story line, it was let down by the writing. It could have been so much better without all of Dashner's annoying habits. I'm not sure whether I'll read the rest of the trilogy or not but I do want to watch the film and discuss that.


What did you think of The Maze Runner?


  1. I completely agree about the Griever's not being properly described! It bothered me so much when I was reading this book. When I read it I enjoyed it but looking back I actually found a lot more problems with it. I, personally, think the movie was really good, but it also strays from the book a tad (but for the best, if you ask me). Also, I love the cast of the movie, so I'm a bit biased.

    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who had loads of problems with it! And yeah I also enjoyed it whilst I was reading it but not on reflection, the storyline is really interesting and gripping but the rest of it isn't. If the film is much better than the book then I'm definitely going to try and watch it, you've given me hope haha!

  2. Great review. I haven't read this book before, but I'm a Hunger Games fan.

    1. Thank you very much! If you are a huge Hunger Games fan I probably wouldn't recommend reading The Maze Runner because you might find it annoyingly similar. But, if you really really love this genre then it's worth a try! Let me know what you think if you read it :)


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