Maze Runner Series: A Look at the Original Novels

An overview of James Dashner’s hit Maze Runner series ahead of the new film, The Scorch Trials!

Last year, director Wes Ball’s cinematic adaptation of The Maze Runner was a surprise hit at the box office and there’s still more to come from The Maze Runner series. Next month, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials will continue the story of Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers as they attempt to survive their latest ordeal and discover the truth behind the group that put them through a dangerous experiment.

As a film franchise, The Maze Runner series is based on the novels by author James Dashner. Dashner’s first Maze Runner series novel was published in 2009, and its sequel, The Scorch Trials, followed a year later. In 2011, Dashner brought the story of Thomas and his friends to a conclusion in The Death Cure. If The Maze Runner filmmakers follow the example of The Twilight saga, The Hunger Games, and the Harry Potter adaptations then try not to act surprised when The Death Cure gets split into two movies.

However, The Death Cure wasn’t the end of Dashner’s Maze Runner series. In 2012, Dashner released The Kill Order, the first of two Maze Runner series prequel novels. Next year, Dashner’s last prequel novel, The Fever Code, will hit bookstores and once again wrap up his storylines.

There is a possibility that The Kill Order could also become a movie, if the box office returns for Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and its sequel warrant it. But because the premise of The Fever Code ties directly back into the first novel’s timeline, that book is less likely to make it to the big screen.

Before Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials hits theaters on September 18, is taking a broad overview of the storyline from the novels. To preserve the Maze Runner series experience for anyone who doesn’t want to know everything that’s going to happen, spoilers will be kept to a minimum.

The Maze Runner Series Guide: The Maze Runner (2009)

The Maze Runner is just the beginning of The Maze Runner series.

Most of the plot from The Maze Runner novel was faithfully recreated for the movie. At the beginning, a teenage boy named Thomas found himself in an elevator without any memory of who he was. When the elevator arrived, Thomas was greeted by a group made up entirely of teenage boys led by Alby and Newt, who were portrayed in the movie by Aml Ameen and Thomas Brodie-Sangster, respectively.

Thomas soon learned that the group called themselves the Gladers, after the Glade in which they were imprisoned. The Glade was surrounded by an ever-shifting Maze, populated by bizarre and lethal creatures called Grievers. Thomas’ presence was disruptive for the Gladers, but the real complication came when Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) arrived. The only girl among the Gladers heralded the end of their much needed supplies and a deadly new status quo in which the Gladers were hunted by the Grievers when the Maze no longer closed at night.

Among the changes from the novel-to-the-screen were Alby’s decision to commit suicide by Griever rather than a heroic sacrifice in the movie, and the lack of a telepathic connection between Thomas and Teresa. Director Wes Ball has said that he has no plans to include the telepathy in the Maze Runner sequel movies either.

Thomas, Teresa, and a small group of Gladers eventually escaped the Maze and discovered that the whole setup was an experiment run by a group calling itself World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department. That’s right. The bad guys are WICKED (or WCKD in the movie). That’s not exactly subtle, Mr. Dashner!

The surviving Gladers were evacuated by a group of rebels and told about The Flare, a virus that devastated the world. However, the experiment on the Gladers simply entered its next phase as WICKED’s plans moved forward.

One last SPOILER WARNING! As mentioned earlier in the post, spoilers will be kept to a minimum in the description of the remaining novels in Dashner’s Maze Runner series. But if you absolutely don’t want to know anything about the storylines beyond the first book, then stop reading now!

The Maze Runner Series Guide: The Scorch Trials (2010)

The Scorch Trials is where the Maze Runner series continues.

Early in The Scorch Trials, Thomas and the Gladers were separated from Teresa, who was seemingly replaced by Aris Jones. Aris claimed that he came from Group B, which was comprised of only girls…other than Aris. WICKED forced the Gladers into a new experiment after seemingly infecting them with The Flare. The Gladers were told that only those who made it through The Scorch – a desolate and dangerous landscape – would be given the cure.

In The Scorch, the Gladers encountered the Cranks, which is the term for men and women who were infected by The Flare. Thomas made an alliance with Jorge, the leader of the Cranks and he also formed a connection with a Crank girl named Brenda. A rival group of Cranks threatened them all, and Thomas was rocked to his core by a betrayal from trusted allies. The Gladers and Group B were brought together while Thomas was made to question everything that he believed in.

The Maze Runner Series Guide: The Death Cure (2011)

The Death Cure is the final book in the original Maze Runner series trilogy.

In the final chapter of Dashner’s original trilogy, the real purpose behind The Flare and WICKED comes to light. Thomas was once again betrayed by people that he had trusted, and he was forced to make an agonizing choice regarding his closest friend. Even the Gladers were divided by a chance to restore their lost memories and reclaim their previous selves.

In the climax, Thomas and his remaining allies converged on WICKED headquarters in search of a cure for The Flare and safety for their people. But not everyone made it out alive…

The Maze Runner Series Guide: The Kill Order (2012)

The Kill Order is the first of two prequel novels in the Maze Runner series.

Dashner revisited his world with The Kill Order, a prequel which started 13 years before The Maze Runner. The solar flares described in the first novel devastated the world. A new group of characters, including Mark, Trina, Alec and Lana witnessed a military organization infect the survivors with The Flare, a virus that destroys the human brain’s ability to think.

Several tragedies befell the group as The Flare ravaged them and their remaining loved ones were lost. Along the way, the origins of Thomas and Teresa were revealed as events came full circle with the beginning of The Maze Runner.

The Maze Runner Series Guide: The Fever Code (2016)

The Maze

Because The Fever Code won’t be published until next year, very little is currently known about the story. It will reportedly bridge some of the time gap between The Kill Order and The Maze Runner, while also exploring the lives of the Gladers before they were put into the experiment by WICKED.