When Thomas wakes up, all he knows is his name and the fact that he can't see a thing. When he's released, things only get stranger. Thomas finds himself in the Glade, a walled-in sanctuary in a giant maze that rearranges itself every night. Outside are walls without exits, a cliff jump to nowhere, and disgusting creatures called grievers. Inside, there is only a population of boys who remember only their names, who have struggled every day for two years to find a way out.The next day, a girl named Theresa arrives in the Glade for the first time. Who is she? Why is she there? Why does Thomas feel so drawn to her? And more importantly, will any of them ever escape?The Maze Runner was written by James Dashner, followed by a sequel, The Scorch Trials, involving the aftermath of the first book and the introduction of new friends and enemies. The final book, The Death Cure, was released in October 2011, introducing the context and ramifications of the previous books and concluding the story. A prequel to the trilogy has been released as of August 14, 2012 called The Kill Order.A Film of the Book, starring Will Poulter and ThomasBrodie-Sangster, has been announced with a release date of February 14, 2014.
Big Bad: Chancellor Paige, the head of all the mess that is WICKED. Eventually, though, the cruelty of that position gets to her and she decides to cut their losses and stop torturing people for a cure that might never come.
Big Damn Heroes: Minho, along with the other Gladers and Jorge, in The Scorch Trials.
Big Good: Chancellor Paige again, in the final half of the third book, where she decides to preserve humanity instead of saving it, since the process of saving it was just resulting in tortured and killed children.
Bittersweet Ending: And how. By the end of The Death Cure, Newt and Teresa are dead, there's no cure for the Flare and the Immune will inherit the Earth. Thomas, Minho, Brenda, Jorge and the 200 Immunes begin rebuilding civilization in a safe place far from the Scorch.
Central Theme: Running. The protagonists don't get to stop until the end of the third book.
Characterization Marches On: Jorge was introduced as a brute willing to commit murder for minor insults, and savagely beating one of the protagonists. This turns out to almost totally be an act and he's later a generally inoffensive pilot and a sort of doting uncle to Brenda.
Closed Circle: The main point of the first and second books is the boys escaping from their personal circle. They don't manage 'til the beginning of the third book.
While not as immediately noticable, Newt also goes into Sarcasm Mode plenty of times.
And Thomas picks it up from them.
Double Standard: In-Universe. Group B, made up of a group of girls who had they're own maze journey, are quick to flaunt the fact that they rescued more people and killed more Grievers than the stupid ugly boys. The fact of the matter is that they were given much better equipment to do it with, not to mention actual supplies for the Scorch Trials.
Teresa's manner makes it obvious that she considers herself smarter than most of the men around her, by default. Although in her case, that's very much in-character.
Dwindling Party: Near the end of the first book the Grievers settle on a pattern of taking someone every day. The second book continues the trend with more diverse death-dealing implements.
Eldritch Abomination: The Grievers are small versions. Half mechanical, half organic killing machines. All mysteriously and frighteningly lethal. They represent the reality-bending phenomena surrounding the maze; their patterns are unknowable and their presence constant. Meeting one will result in the danger of painful death.
The Ending Changes Everything: Ava Paige's epilogue in the Death Cure shows that she is still devoted to WICKED's cause, even after having turned on most of them. She altered WICKED's mission objectives in a way that put her on the protagonists' side, though, and she was genuinely sorry for some of the things she did. The same epilogue also implies that Brenda and Jorge were following her orders to the end.
Fighting from the Inside: Gally in the first book fights hard. Newt in the third after he gets the Flare, but with mixed results.
Five-Man Band: Once all the chaff of secondary characters, traitors, victims, and tagalongs were harshly weeded out, an unlikely but stable group formed. When all together:
Fun with Acronyms: WICKED, World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department. Where Killzone is a malapropism for the mind-brain construct.
Genius Bruiser: Most notably the Runners, who are quick thinking cartographers who make-maps while running marathons and have to stand a fighting chance against The Grievers. At a point before the main story, Thomas himself counted; he was a child prodigy Leading WICKED and extraordinarily fit and during the series proves to be a decent fighter.
Genre Savvy: Thomas and Minho, after the first book and a half or so. They start calling most of the stuff they're going to be put through and eventually manage to throw the omniscient WICKED for a loop by anticipating their tactics.
Gorn: The series features a lot of gruesome deaths.
The Heart: Newt. Although the WICKED operators call him "The Glue"...
The Immune: Turns out most of the Gladers and Brenda and Jorge, along with a very small percentage of the world's population called "Immunes" are this. Well, most of the Gladers except for Newt. In fact, being this is why most of the Gladers were picked by WICKED in the first place, because they wanted to research their brains to find a cure.
Informed Ability: The Gladers are picked for their intelligence from their childhood, though few of them actually show any real genius other then setting up a system of order in the Glade. The best real example is sort of roundabout, but Minho and Thomas coordinate battle tactics and formations on the fly during firefights despite never having used guns before. Otherwise, they're of average outlook and just above-average intelligence.
Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Sometimes in the second book. Jorge and Brenda's early characterization is more or less jettisoned with the explanation that WICKED forced them to play certain parts to test the protagonists.
Oh Crap: Several moments; the best example is when the wall that protects the Gladers from Grievers doesn't close one night, leaving them easy prey. Another good example is in the final book when Thomas realizes that the Right Arm is going to explode WICKED. While he, his friends, and the rest of the Immunes are still inside it.
The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: WICKED used to have one, but they all elected to commit suicide before they succumbed to the Flare, leaving Chancellor Paige, Thomas, and Theresa more or less in charge. The various scientists working the project act as one.
The Plague: The disease known as the Flare. It was a population control virus used so that certain governments would have less overflow to deal with in the aftermath of the super-solar flare strike on the Earth. Unfortunately, it targeted everyone.
Reality Warper: What the WICKED organization can essentially do; the extravagant resources they've been granted resulted in skyrocketing technology levels and analytical capabilities to predict the outcomes of even ridiculously chaotic events.
The Reveal: There are a series of reveals throughout the books that, when strung together, give a coherent version of the backstory. Sometime in the past, a solar flare intense enough to make it through our atmosphere caught the earth, frying it between the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer. The resulting rampant destitution made relief attempts almost impossible, so to lessen the burden some genius came up with the incredibly smart plan to release a population control disease so there would be less people to deal with. The virus, soon to be known as the Flare, mutated into a Hate Plague that almost the entire Earthís population caught. In order to combat it, the world's governments formed WICKED, tasked with finding a cure. WICKEDís approach was to brain-map the immune and try to transfer that immunity to the public. Unfortunately, the brain-mapping required would be ridiculously detailed and ultimately impossible. The first two novels in their entirety were stress tests used to remotely map the protagonistís brain patterns. The Maze, the grievers, and the Scorch were all governed by WICKEDís ridiculously advanced structural- and bio-engineering.
Sacrificial Lamb: Chuck makes it only to the end of the first book, and serves no purpose but to befriend Thomas and then die.
Spanner in the Works: Thomas and Minho finally get in on some Spanner action at the beginning of the third book. Everything previous to that was planned by WICKED and there was no point at which they were not under WICKED's control.
Teen Genius: Sounds like most of the kids were something of one, but Thomas and Teresa take the prize. Most of them are not seen in action, though, making their genius something of an Informed Ability.
Debunked in The Death Cure. The Trials are actually made so WICKED can analyze the Immunes' brain response in various situations in order to find a cure for the Flare, a disease that's destroying the world.
Wham Episode: Around Chapter 17, when Thomas jumps into the Maze with Alby and Minho. Alby has been stung by a Griever, and the doors to the Glade shut behind them, trapping the three boys for the night. The previous chapters weren't exactly pretty, but things get BAD at this point.
What the Hell, Hero?: At one point in the story, Teresa psychologically and physically tortures Thomas to a severe extent, because WICKED had requested her to do so, and she believed it was for the best. when Thomas recovers from the ordeal, he is understandably angry at Teresa, especially since she didn't try to find another way to go about things, as Thomas and his friends had on many occasions. Teresa believes she has nothing to apologize for and has the nerve to get angry at Thomas because he resents the way she treated him. Teresa acts like nothing happened and tries to continue their budding young romance, even kissing Thomas to shut him up. Thomas completely calls her out on her behavior and is completely turned off to her for the rest of the series.