The Maze Runner Books In Order: How To Read Them

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Summary

  • The Maze Runner film trilogy is based on a book series, with the first book released in 2009 and the last book in 2011, followed by prequels and a sequel.
  • The books follow a character named Thomas who wakes up in a maze and uncovers a conspiracy, with the prequels providing context and explanation.
  • It is recommended to read the series in release order to fully experience the mysteries and revelations of the original trilogy, as the prequels spoil aspects of the story.


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The Maze Runner film trilogy is based on a book series of the same name, and here is how to read every book in order of both chronology and release. The Maze Runner was released in 2014 amid the craze of young-adult novels being adapted into film. The success of the movie spawned two sequels, based on the two final books in the novel series by author James Dashner.

The book series centers on a character named Thomas – played by Dylan O’Brien in The Maze Runner film – who wakes up with no memories in the center of a huge maze. What began as an attempt to escape quickly turns into a huge conspiracy that The Maze Runner’s two sequels explore. Since then, Dashner has expanded the world of The Maze Runner through two prequel books, and even a sequel series. Given the more expansive nature of The Maze Runner book franchise, here is the definitive guide on how to read the series be it chronological or in order of release.

Related: The Maze Runner Cast & Character Guide


The Maze Runner Books By Publication Date

The Maze Runner The Death Cure Cast

Firstly, it is worth exploring The Maze Runner series in order of how it was initially published. The first book, simply titled The Maze Runner, was released in October 2009, five years before the film adaptation was released. This was followed by a sequel, The Scorch Trials. This book was released just under a year after The Maze Runner, being published in September 2010. The third and final entry into The Maze Runner trilogy was called The Death Cure and was released in October 2011 meaning the entire trilogy was published in exactly two years.

After the completion of the original trilogy, author James Dashner began work on a prequel series of books to The Maze Runner. The first of these prequels was titled The Kill Order and was released quickly after The Death Cure in August 2012. Despite a book being released every year since 2009 in the series, the second prequel installment – The Fever Code – took just over four years to be completed. Acting as the final prequel to the original three books, The Fever Code was released in September 2016. Finally, a sequel book to the original three stories – The Maze Cutter – was released in November 2022.

The Maze Runner Books In Chronological Order

The poster for The Maze Runner

Given that The Maze Runner series includes original stories, prequels, and sequels, the chronological order of the franchise differs from release order. The first book to take place chronologically in The Maze Runner universe is the first prequel released by Dashner, The Kill Order. The second chronological book in the series – The Fever Code – leads directly into the events of The Maze Runner. As such, the book that was released first is actually the third installment in chronological order.

The Maze Runner is then followed chronologically by The Scorch Trials which takes place directly after the end scene of the first book. The third book in publication order, The Death Cure, is the fifth in chronological order. The Death Cure takes place just under a month after The Scorch Trials. Finally, the sequel book that was released by Dashner in 2022 is also the final installment chronologically, set around 70 years after The Death Cure.

The Best Order To Read The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner books in release order on the top row and chronological on the bottom

Considering there are two different orders to read The Maze Runner book series, there have long been debates over which is the best way to experience the six books released thus far. Much like with most book series’ that are released out of chronological order though, the answer is quite clear. Based on the fact that the prequel books to The Maze Runner essentially spoil the mysteries of the original trilogy, release order is the best way to read the series.

Dashner wrote the two Maze Runner prequels in a way that meant the first three books needed to be read in order to understand all aspects of the story. While The Kill Order and The Fever Code could be read first, much of the intrigue, mystery, and big reveals of the original trilogy would be lost as a result given that the prequels reveal several aspects about the original trilogy in order to give them more context. The Maze Runner was written as the entry point into the series as it was published first.

Similarly, the prequel stories were written as exactly that, companion pieces to the original three books only set before The Maze Runner that explained any lingering mysteries after finishing The Death Cure. If the books are read as released, the reader is taken on a journey of discovery alongside the series’ protagonist Thomas. Chronologically though, a lot of the wonder and intrigue of this journey is lost given that they were written by Dashner to provide context to the original stories. As such, release order is undoubtedly the best way to read The Maze Runner series.