When Thomas is cranked up in a lift, and arrives in a place called the Glade, the only thing that he can remember is his name. He has no idea where he is, or why he has been brought here. The boys in the Glade speak strangely; their language is full of words that he doesn't understand, like 'shuck' and 'keeper'. During the day, the Runners leave the Glade, to explore the Maze and to try and find a way out. Each night, four massive doors shut, enclosing the Glade and keeping the boys safe from the evil creatures known as the Grievers. Each night, the walls of the Maze move as well, making it impossible for the boys to map the place where they are kept captive, or to figure out where the exit might be. Then one day the sun disappears, and a strange girl called Teresa appears in the Glade. The doors stop closing at night, and the children are in desperate danger from the Grievers. Eventually Thomas starts to figure out what is going on in the Maze, and he realises what has to be done. He leads the children through the Maze and into a terrifying climax, where they do battle with the Grievers, fight for their lives, and find out the truth behind the mysteries of the Maze.
This book is a gripping, terrifying, rollercoaster adventure. I found it impossible to put down, and as soon as I had finished it, I read the rest of the books in the series (The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure and The Kill Order). Although the other books are great too, I felt that it was the first book that was the best of the series. The story is simultaneously confusing, because the reader doesn't really know what is going on, and also fascinating, as you try to work out the answer to the puzzle of the Maze. The characters are well drawn, and I was reminded a lot of William Golding's The Lord of the Flies, in the way that the boys' society starts to disintegrate, and Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, in the strange language that the boys invent. The only downside of this book was the ending, because it sets the story up to continue in the next book, rather than giving a sense of completion and typing up all the loose ends. However, I highly recommend it, both for adults and for children. I would recommend it for readers aged 9 years plus, and for adults who are not of a nervous disposition (due to some of the story being really quite terrifying.)