The Maze Runner: Movie vs Book

When Hollywood gets tired of reboots and remakes, it turns to popular books to adapt to the big screen. Hot on the heels of the box office success of franchises like Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight, and Divergent, The Maze Runner was about to follow suit. And it did. With a budget of $34 million, the film made $348.3 million.

Released in 2014, it was based on James Dashner’s 2009 young adult dystopian novel of the same name. 

The story follows Thomas, who wakes up inside a metal elevator. He has no memory of what happened, who he is, and where he is headed. The only thing he remembers is his name. The elevator brings him to the Glade, surrounded by concrete walls. Outside the walls is the Maze, where creatures called Grievers to reside.

Credit: The Maze Runner

In an attempt to solve the mystery of the Maze, the Gladers appoint “runners” who try to solve the Maze and find an escape. The labyrinth was constantly changing, so they needed the fastest boys. It wasn’t long before Thomas became a runner.

The Maze Runner was Wes Ball’s directorial debut, and it starred Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Will Poulter, Aml Ameen, and Patricia Clarkson.

Unlike most adaptations, The Maze Runner didn’t precisely stay faithful to the book. The premise was the same, but it deviated from the book, and several salient plot points were altered or removed. There were changestoo many changes; ll only is discussing the major ones here. 

The Gladers were far from friendly.

In the movie, the Gladers were friendly and accommodating. This made Thomas feel accepted and helped ease his anxiety after arriving. In the book, the boys weren’t too friendly. They called Thomas names, and tey try to reach out to him or offer him any information. As a result, Thomas felt scared, anxious, and alone. The Gladers didn’t make it easier for him, as they did almost anything to make the entire situation more terrifying. 

This was important in the book because Thomas arrived uncomfortable, frightened, and unsure of everything. How he went from that panic-stricken boy to someone with enough self-assuredness and courage to lead the Gladers was a huge turning point.

The serum is no big deal to the Gladers.

In the movie, Alby suffers from a griever sting, and the serum appears along with Tessa—just in time to save him. In the book, however, they always had the serum, which was taken for granted because it was part of their supplies.

The Gladers didn’t figure out how the Maze worked that easily. 

For the record, we understand why the movie felt rushed. It’s not easy trying to condense so many things in under two hours. Shortly after Thomas’ arrival, he and Minho managed to unlock the mystery of the Maze. It looked too easy and way too quick.

In the book, the events were fast-paced but not rushed. The way they tried to solve the Maze was thrilling and suspenseful. Thomas and Minho had to discuss many things before discovering the Griever hole. 

It took them a while to realize that there was a pattern to the movements of the walls and that it was a code. 

Tessa had a more significant role in getting them out of the Maze.

Credit: The Maze Runner

The film didn’t do justice to Tessa’s character. She spent quite a long time in a coma and had a significant a significantibution to figuring out the Maze and deciphering the code. She was far from a minor side character who was just there to throw the Gladers off-kilter with her presence.

She could’ve been portrayed as the intelligent and capable young woman that she was in the book. She and Thomas didn’t need to be telepathic—no way could work—but the director could’ve hinted about their long history together.

Scodelario, like the rest of the cast, did a mighty fine job here.

There are supposed to be beetle blades.

It makes us wonder why this didn’t make it to the theatrical version because these CCTV-like machinations would have looked fascinating. Would it have made a massive difference to the story if the beetle blades were included? We think not, but it would add to the situation’s intensity. The beetle blades were constant reminders that someone was always watching the Gladers. Besides, it would look creepy to see them scurrying about, silently observing and tracking every moment. 

The Maze Runner isn’t a bad movie.

But as far as adaptations go, we’re still on the fence about whether or not we’ll recommend this to readers and fans of the book series. The film just seemed like it was a spinoff—and therefore, no different—than Divergent, which is not the case.

The world-building of The Maze Runner is different, and this only becomes clearer in the following books. 

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