The Maze Runner


James Dashner

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The Maze Runner Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on James Dashner's The Maze Runner. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of James Dashner

One of six children, James Dashner was born and raised in a small town in Georgia. As a child, Dashner was an avid reader of sci-fi and fantasy novels and wrote some of his first stories on his parents’ old typewriter. After studying accounting at Brigham Young University, Dashner worked briefly in finance before devoting his time to writing fiction. He achieved moderate success with his novels in The Jimmy Fincher Saga and The 13th Reality series, and Dasher then began work on The Maze Runner. His most popular book, The Maze Runner stayed on the New York Times Best Sellers list for weeks. As of 2015, he lives in the Rocky Mountains with his family.
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Historical Context of The Maze Runner

Since The Maze Runner takes place in a distant, fictional future, the novel does not directly refer to any historical events. Instead, Dashner makes reference to a fictional environmental disaster that threatens to annihilate all life on Earth. As such, Dashner may be responding to recent natural disasters like the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. The novel also questions the ethics of human experimentation, which recalls the United States’ long history of performing secret experiments on people. For example, in the Guatemala Syphilis Experiment, the United States Public Health Services infected people in Guatemala with syphillis in order to test the effective of antibiotics. Possibly having this history in mind, Dashner depicts scientists experimenting on children for the supposed “greater good” of humanity.

Other Books Related to The Maze Runner

James Dashner lists Orson Scott Card’s 1985 sci-fi novel Ender’s Game as an influence for The Maze Runner. Like Ender’s Game, The Maze Runner tells the story of adults raising exceptionally bright children in extremely brutal and dangerous environments in order to prepare them to save humanity from destruction. The Maze Runner also belongs to the recent post-apocalyptic trend in young adult fiction. In the dystopian society of The Hunger Games, the most popular and successful novel in this trend, teenagers are forced to compete in death matches. Like The Hunger Games , The Maze Runner follows the conventions of the trend by depicting heroic teenagers struggling with the challenges of adolescence while fighting to save the world from tyrannical adults. The Maze Runner is also the first in a series that includes the sequels The Scorch Trial and The Death Cure along with the prequel The Kill Order.
Key Facts about The Maze Runner
  • Full Title: The Maze Runner
  • When Written: 2006
  • Where Written: USA
  • When Published: 2009
  • Literary Period: Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic Fiction
  • Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
  • Setting: The Glade and the Maze
  • Climax: Thomas and other Gladers fight off the Grievers and find the exit to the Maze
  • Antagonist: The Grievers and the Creators
  • Point of View: Close Third-Person

Extra Credit for The Maze Runner

Blockbuster: The Maze Runner was adapted into a 2014 film of the same name. The popularity of the film has ensured that the book’s sequel, The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, will be made into a movie.

Prequel: For those interested in the events leading up to the story in The Maze Runner, Dashner wrote a prequel entitled The Kill Order, which tells the story of the sun flares that hit Earth and threatened to wipe out humanity.