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Mom’s Cheat Sheet:
The Maze Runner Series

by Dena McMurdie

Teens everywhere are talking about The Maze Runner series, but what’s all the hype about? I created this cheat sheet to bring you up to speed on the latest teen sensation.

What’s the big deal?
Buckle up! Reading this series is like riding on the back of a high-powered rocket. It’s a fast-paced adrenaline rush that leaves its readers gasping for breath. It explores many themes that resonate with this generation such as humanity, change, and the greater good.

Who’s (meant to be) reading it?
Teens (ages 12 – 18) are the target audience, although many adults are reading these books right along with them.

What’s it about?
It’s one overarching story broken into three separate books, each with its own plot: The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure. The books center on Thomas, a 16-year-old boy with no memory of life before the Maze, the friends he makes in the Glade, and their struggles to survive a series of deadly tests and overthrow the corporation running them.

Who’s in it?

  • Thomas – the main character (telepathic, brave, resilient)
  • Gladers – the boys who live in the Glade
  • Chuck – Thomas’s first friend in the Glade (chubby, annoying, extremely loyal)
  • Alby – the leader in the Glade (surly, but a good leader)
  • Newt – Alby’s right-hand man (kind, diplomatic, everyone’s favorite)
  • Minho – the Keeper (leader) of the Runners, and later, leader of the Gladers (arrogant, snarky, quick-tempered)
  • Gally – an outcast in the Glade (angry, possibly insane)
  • Teresa – the only girl in the Glade (telepathic, tough, smart)
  • Grievers – half-creature/half-machine, they roam the Maze every night, killing anyone unlucky enough to be there
  • Brenda – a girl who joins Thomas and the Gladers in The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure (feisty, smart, fearless)
  • Jorge – an uncle figure to Brenda (temperamental but loyal)
  • Aris – joins the Gladers in The Scorch Trials (quiet, telepathic)
  • WICKED – the corporation running the deadly tests
  • Crank – a person infected with the Flare (a man-made disease that attacks the brain)
  • Munie – a person immune to the Flare

What are they doing? *Spoiler Alert*
In The Maze Runner, Thomas arrives in the Glade – home to fifty boys and surrounded on all sides by giant stone walls. Four doors in the walls lead into the Maze, a gigantic labyrinth where dangerous Grievers roam every night. After a girl shows up and Thomas spends one horrific night trapped in the Maze, everything falls apart. The sun disappears and the doors to the Maze stop closing at night, leaving the Gladers at the mercy of the Grievers. The Gladers escape through an invisible portal off the edge of a cliff, losing more than half the group (including Alby and Chuck) before getting to safety. They then learn that the entire ordeal was a test orchestrated by WICKED.

In The Scorch Trials, the Gladers are forced into another test – to journey 100 miles across the Scorch, a desert wasteland, with nothing but the blazing sun and Cranks for company. The kids survive a deadly lightning storm, a city full of Cranks, and a horrible betrayal before they once again (but with fewer numbers) make it to safety.

In The Death Cure, Thomas and the other subjects escape from WICKED headquarters and discover Right Arm, a group dedicated to taking down the corporation. Together they defeat WICKED and guide a couple hundred Munies to a secluded, safe place.

What else should parents know?
There is some mild cursing, a sprinkling of romance, and lots of violence, including kids and adults dying in horrible, gruesome ways. Thomas is pushed past his limits and must kill several people, including a close friend. This series raises questions about limits, sacrifice, trust, and the value of human life.

What to ask your kids:

  1. Who was your favorite character? Why?
  2. Why do you think the Gladers focused so much on rules and order?
  3. What made Thomas different than the other boys?
  4. Is it okay to use human test subjects if it will benefit the greater good?
  5. Should rules always be followed? How would this series be different if Thomas never broke the rules?
  6. Is Thomas brave, reckless, or both?
  7. Why do you think Thomas chose not to have his memory returned? Would you want your memory back?
  8. Is change necessary? What would the world be like if nothing ever changed?