'The Maze Runner' by James Dashner: Book Club Discussion Questions

The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Delacorte Press

"The Maze Runner," by James Dashner, is a 2009 young adult post-apocalyptic science fiction novel. Set in a dystopian reality where young boys must fight for their lives within a deadly maze, this is a thrilling novel full of plot twists and action sequences. As the first book in a trilogy, "The Maze Runner" ends on a cliffhanger.

Plot Summary

A boy wakes up in an elevator remembering only that his name is Thomas. The elevator brings him to a place called the Glade, a large piece of land surrounded by walls that are several miles high. The Glade does have four openings, but outside of the Glade is an ever-changing maze. The Glade houses a group of boys called the Gladers. Each day, a few members of the group, called the Runners, slip outside of the Glade to try to find a way out of the maze, but they never do—until Thomas helps them escape.

Eventually, 20 Gladers are rescued only to learn that outside of the maze, there has been an apocalyptic world event and that they are part of an elaborate experiment created to help equip them with the skills to save the new world. Presaging the next novel in the trilogy, the reader learns that this was only the first phase of the experiment.

Discussion Questions

Use these questions to work through the novel and discuss what you think James Dashner is trying to say. Spoiler alert: These questions contain details from the novel and talk about the end of the book. Finish reading the book before looking on.

  1. Why do you think WICKED put the kids in the maze? Do you think it was an effective way to find the smartest and most resilient?
  2. Where do the characters in this novel get their names? What is the significance of names to the story and to character development?
  3. Even though Thomas does not remember it, he and Teresa had a role in creating the maze. Do you think that makes him guilty? Does he owe something to the other boys?
  4. What was the point of sending Teresa into the maze?
  5. What role does language play in this novel? For example, why do you think the people in the Glade use slang words such as "shank?"
  6. Was Gally good or bad? Why do you think the scientists used him?
  7. Throughout the book, Thomas and the other boys have more questions than answers. The reader, too, does not know what is happening. Did you like how this produced suspense? Were you satisfied with the answers provided in the end?
  8. In the final memo from WICKED, they refer to "Group B." Who do you think that is?
  9. If the world is truly in catastrophe, do you think the means can justify the ends of saving the human race? Even if it means enslaving or killing children? Is it possible, as Teresa thinks, that WICKED could be good?
  10. Did you guess that the maze could be a code? Do you think the kids ever would have tried to escape through the Griever Hole if the end had not been triggered?
  11. Do you think the author, James Dashner, intended to draw any parallels to society as a whole with this novel? In what ways?
  12. Do you think you will read the next two books in the series to find out what happens?
  13. Rate "The Maze Runner" on a scale of 1 to 5.
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Your Citation
Miller, Erin Collazo. "'The Maze Runner' by James Dashner: Book Club Discussion Questions." ThoughtCo, May. 11, 2021, thoughtco.com/the-maze-runner-discussion-questions-362053. Miller, Erin Collazo. (2021, May 11). 'The Maze Runner' by James Dashner: Book Club Discussion Questions. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-maze-runner-discussion-questions-362053 Miller, Erin Collazo. "'The Maze Runner' by James Dashner: Book Club Discussion Questions." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-maze-runner-discussion-questions-362053 (accessed June 5, 2023).