Blog Post

The Dark World of the Maze Runner

MH asks: "Have you ever heard of The Maze Runner by James Dashner?  Is it okay for Catholics to read this, especially young Catholic adults?"

The Maze Runner is a dystopian fiction novel along the lines of The Hunger Games. From what I could ascertain from synopses and reviews of the book (I have not personally read it), there is no occult-based content although God is treated as a kind of generic deity.

Written by James Dashner, it's a futuristic story that revolves around a character named Thomas who wakes up in a field known as the Glade with no previous memory of his life or the outside world. There are 50 other teenage boys (or Gladers) inside the Glade which is surrounded by a giant maze where violent beasts known as Grievers roam during the night. Giant walls - known as the Doors - close every night and seal off the Glade from the maze to protect them from the Grievers. Some of the boys are known as Runners, and it is their job to try to find a way out of the maze.

Most of the story concerns the various escapades of Thomas and the other Gladers, many of which are violent and disturbing, which is typical of today's popular dystopian literature. (Dystopian, which is the opposite of utopian, means a dark and otherwise undesirable world or existence.)

Dashner has written three Maze Runner thrillers - The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure.

I came across this article about one Mormon book seller that refused to carry The Scorch Trials because of its language. Even positive book reviewers cited the graphic violence in this sequel.

The third book, The Death Cure, which was supposed to be the grand finale, left fans feeling quite cheated because it did not answer many of their questions. There appears to be some speculation that Dashner will write a fourth book to clear up these issues for his readers.

I am not a fan of dystopian literature, particularly not for young people whose sensibilities are already strained by the world they live in which is full of its own dark tales - broken families, wars, financial distress, etc.

Having been a reader all my life, I look for books that will lift me up, not give me nightmares, but that's just me.

Having said that, however, I must admit that I'm not sure if it's okay for anyone to read this stuff, let alone Catholics.