I recently read and watched the first book/movie in this series. To be honest, I actually liked both pretty equally. I know that’s weird to hear me say, but I think they were both equally good for different reasons.
The Maze Runner is the story of a group of boys and one girl who have been put into a giant maze with no memory of their lives before they got there. The have to band together to find a way out of the Maze, unfortunately getting out is easier said then done. You can read my full summary and review here, I won’t regurgitate it since it was rather recently.
All the major players are in the movie, and are well cast in my opinion. The set was a great representation of what was described in the book, giving the right balance of paradise in the Glade with the terror the Maze and Grievers could cause. The movie pulled it all off quite well. The first time the Grievers appeared they were equal parts terrifying and menacing, and definitely scary.
The time frame is condensed for obvious reasons of time and to get to the meat of the story quicker. Despite this, you still got a feel for the character’s personalities and roles rather quickly. Gally was the bully, Alby the leader, etc.
The major change was that in the book, each wall of the Maze moved, and the movement of the walls spelled out words. Those words were the code for the Griever Hole. In the movie, the nine sections of the Maze move daily and the number sequence is the code. The Gladers still must battle Grieves to get to the Griever Hole and enter the code in the computer in order to escape. I’m guessing it was easier to explain it as whole sections moving and a number code, and thus the change, because I had to read that part over a couple of times to fully comprehend it. The movie explanation is more straightforward, and more believable in my opinion
A minor change is that in the book, Thomas and Teresa could communicate telepathically. This was left out of the movie, but their familiarity with one another and closeness is still there. This change didn’t bother me, since it would have been difficult to portray on screen.
Another minor change is that in the book, they Gladers have electricity, running water, and other things you wouldn’t expect a group of kids stranded somewhere to have access too. I actually liked this change. It didn’t make sense to me that they were given these things by the creators. To me, not having them would be a great motivator to solve the Maze. Now, I should probably mention here that I saw the movie first, so reading that they had these things threw me for a loop. And it just didn’t make sense to me.
All in all, this is definitely an adaptation that pulled off it’s source material rather accurately with some tweaking to one plot point and a couple of other changes that don’t affect the plot or story all that much. The adaptation of the second book, The Scorch Trials, came out a month ago which I am reading now (I got delayed reading Pillars of the Earth for book club) and plan to see this weekend with my partner in crime from work. The movies seem to be successful with fans and other moviegoers, which is a good sign. So many YA series get the first book made only to fail at the adaptation (Beautiful Creatures anyone?). Hopefully, Hollywood has learned from the mistakes of the unsuccessful adaptations and The Maze Runner books will join the growing ranks of successful adaptations behind Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent, and Harry Potter.