Will Poulter, Ki Hong Lee, Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario and Thomas Brodie-Sangster on a poster for The Maze Runner.

How To Read the ‘Maze Runner’ Books in Order

Dystopian YA fiction really peaked in the 2010s. On the shelves next to Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series was James Dashner’s Maze Runner trilogy, which, much like its contemporaries, was made into a series of feature films.

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While the films are solid adaptations of the books, the novels really let these characters shine and make the dystopian world come to life even more. If you’re interested in reading the Maze Runner trilogy and finding out how those boys ended up in that maze, then you should definitely check out the original stories.

Here’s how to read all the Maze Runner books in order.

The Maze Runner trilogy

The Maze Runner trilogy follows a young man named Thomas (played by Dylan O’Brien in the movies), who finds himself trapped in a maze with a group of unsuspecting boys—and one teenage girl—with no memory of who he was or how he got there. When the group decides to fight their way out of the maze, they discover that the world outside is nothing like they’d imagined.

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
(Delacorte Press)

The book that started it all. The mystery of the maze alone makes this a compelling read, but the characters are the heart of the story. Thomas, Newt, Minho, Frypan, Gally, Chuck, and the rest will soon become your favorites—you just have to hope that nothing horrific will happen to them as they try to escape the maze.

The Scorch Trials

The cover for The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
(Delacorte Press)

Having left the impenetrable walls of the maze behind, Thomas and his friends find themselves thrown into a scorching desert, and the only way to make it out alive is to cross the treacherous landscape. But that’s not all—those who live in the desert have been infected by a virus known as The Flare, and WICKED, the organization that put the boys in the maze, is setting them up to play a dangerous game.

The Death Cure

The cover for The Death Cure by James Dashner
(Delacorte Press)

All is revealed—the test subjects forced into the mazes are the only ones immune to The Flare. WICKED is trying to find a cure and believes their immunity is the world’s only hope. But WICKED’s test subjects aren’t willing to surrender their freedom without a fight.

NOTE: If you want to know more about Newt’s journey during the events of The Death Cure, be sure to read the novella The Crank Palace.

The prequel novels

Dashner wrote two prequel novels for The Maze Runner trilogy, which were published after The Death Cure in 2012 and 2016. As such, if you want to read The Maze Runner saga in chronological order, read these before embarking on The Maze Runner. Remember, however, that the context that The Maze Runner trilogy provides makes these two books much more emotionally compelling than if you read them on their own.

The Kill Order

The cover for The Kill Order by James Dashner
(Delacorte Press)

Long before WICKED existed, the Earth was hit with deadly solar flares. There are few safe environments left, but there’s something even more dangerous happening too. A virus that makes the infected rabid and violent begins to spread across the population, and there is little anyone can do to save themselves.

Chronologically, this is the first book in the series.

The Fever Code

The cover for The Fever Code by James Dashner
(Delacorte Press)

The Fever Code tells the story of how the Gladers ended up in the maze, who put them there, the training the Gladers went through before going into the maze, and what their lives and relationships with each other were like before their memories were wiped by WICKED.

This novel takes place between The Kill Order and The Maze Runner.

The Maze Cutter series

The new series is set 73 years after the events of The Death Cure and focuses on the descendants of the original Gladers. They’ve learned all there is to know about the world through The Book of Newt and Old Man Frypan’s stories, but their lives are about to be changed forever.

The Maze Cutter

The cover for The Maze Cutter by James Dashner
(Akashic Media Enterprises)

Tucked away safely on an island, the lives of the Glader’s descendants and their friends are changed when they encounter a mysterious, rusty ship. On the ship is a woman bearing terrible news from the mainland—the virus has evolved, and those infected with it are becoming more intelligent and violent. The islanders are eventually forced back to the mainland, where danger like they never faced before awaits them.

The Godhead Complex

The cover for The Godhead Complex by James Dashner
(Akashic Media Enterprises)

The islanders are being hunted by a mysterious figure known only as the Godhead, and they’re intent on figuring out who they are once and for all. But when they discover that the cure for The Flare isn’t as effective as it once was, and those who were immune aren’t as immune as they were led to believe, their world is about to change forever.

The Godhead Complex was published in November 2023.

(featured image: 20th Century Fox)

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El Kuiper
El (she/her) is The Mary Sue's U.K. editor and has been working as a freelance entertainment journalist for over two years, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV (she's seen every episode of Midsomer Murders ever made) and franchises like Marvel and Pokémon. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.