Book One: The Maze Runner (2009)
We enter the maze through the eyes of Thomas. Last name, unknown. Life history, unknown. Like all the other boys in the maze, he has had his memory wiped. He quickly learns who he can and cannot trust in the Glebe, although their true reason for being placed there is not learnt until the very end. After his arrival into the Glebe things start to change. Grievers are coming out in the day. A girl arrives. The sky is gone.... what the??? Somehow Thomas knows that he has been involved with the Creators of the maze, and this is his journey to find the truth and make up for the mistakes of his past.
It gets quite graphic in parts of the book detailing how young boys are killed. I found the banishing of one of the gladers unnecessary, but such is the nature of these young adult books at the moment. I ask, whatever happened to the Babysitter’s Club, which were the books I was reading at around that age. Anyway, I digress....
Book Two: The Scorch Trials (2010)
The trails are over... or are they? Thomas and the other gladers wake up to shouting and screaming from the infected (Cranks). They meet Aris, a boy from Group B. And they now all have tattoos. Thomas’ says ‘Killed by Group B’, Mino’s says, ‘The Leader’ and Newt’s says ‘The Glue’. They meet the Rat Man then proceed into another trial where they continue to be challenged psychologically by The Creators. Thomas' relationship with Teresa continues to be strained, and it is unknown where her allegiances lay. Thomas is introduced to a new female, Brenda, and they develop a friendship that adds to an already complex situation.
I realise in this book that Chuck would have never stood a chance past the first trials. As sad as it is, perhaps him dying in the first novel was for the best.
There is a terrible scene not that far into this second book, which I believe is a little too heavy for young adults (i.e. teens). It could cause a lot of anxiety around death, and I wonder if they will cut it from the movie. It just doesn’t seem appropriate for the target audience.
Otherwise, the Scorch Trials is a good book. It challenges the friendship and potential love between Thomas and Teresa. You wonder if they would have lived up to their personality characteristics without their tattoos, or whether this has influenced their behaviour.
Book Three: The Death Cure (2011)
The trials are over. For good this time.
Thomas is held in confinement for a long period of time. Once released he is offered a chance to get his memory back. He declines but is forced into it. He escapes with other gladers and learns that everything about how the disease was released and its cure is a lie. Thomas must choose between joining a rebel alliance named the Red Shirts. Thomas meets up again with old foes and must make tough decisions regarding his friends.
Like many young adult books in recent times, The Maze Runner has similar themes of, people being allocated to factions, childhood trauma, death and dying – and lots of it, the end of the world, sacrifices for the greater good.
I enjoyed this book. Many times Thomas, and other protagonists, are faced with ethical dilemmas where they are forced to make decisions with so little information. I always considered what I would do in those situations, and whether I would take a risk or play the game.
Slight spoiler here: I wished Thomas had kept his promise to Chuck, but there was no way this was possible. Perhaps, he could have stumbled across Chuck’s family as they were pivotal to the Red Shirts I don’t know, but I think this would have been important to Thomas’ character in helping him overcome one of his major traumas.
By the end of the series, I was happy and walked away feeling pleased I’d dedicated the time to read them.
Would I recommend it for your kids? Well, it depends on your kids.... there are some pretty heavy scenes, particularly in the Scorch Trials, that your child would need to talk through. If your child is already anxious, then I wouldn’t recommend it. Otherwise, I do recommend it. If you’re noticing they’re becoming anxious, however, hand them a copy of the Babysitter’s Club, they’ll soon be okay!
If you're very interested in The Maze Runner, Dashner has released a prequel, and has another pre-prequel in the making.
The Maze Runner (2009): 4.5/5 Shuck Grievers
The Scorch Trials (2010): 4/5 Dirty Cranks
The Death Cure (2011): 4/5 Impossible Situations
Overall series rating: 4/5
Read more reviews:
The Divergent Trilogy
When did children's books become so gruesome?