Last Updated on June 25, 2023 by Louisa
A good dystopian novel should be complex enough to keep you engaged and yet be realistic enough to feel like it could happen one day – that’s how I felt after reading The Maze Runner.
The Maze Runner is a young adult science fiction novel set in a futuristic world. where teenagers wake up inside a maze and search for a way out in the limited time the doors open; otherwise, they are locked in the maze, never to return.
If you are looking for similar books with dystopian themes, teenage protagonists, and science-fiction storylines, you’ve come to the right place.
After reading The Maze Runner, I went on a dystopian binge and have selected my top books like The Maze Runner for anyone looking to read more in this genre.
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Quick Answer: 3 Best Books Like The Maze Runner!
Need a book fast but don’t have much time? Don’t worry; here are my top three favorites.
#1 Best Highly Acclaimed Novel
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Another dystopian novel with teenage main characters and an uprising theme.
- Made into a major motion feature trilogy starring Jennifer Lawrence.
- Winner of more than 15 awards since its publication
#2 Best in Sci-Fi
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
- A story about an alien race who comes to Earth after the 5th wave strikes.
- Winner of the 2014 Red House Children’s Book Award
- Winner of the 2014 YALSA Award for Best Fiction for Young Adults
Summary of The Maze Runner
If you like your dystopian books thrilling, then it’s no surprise you picked up The Maze Runner by James Dashner.
Before I show you some similar books to The Maze Runner, let’s quickly recap the story. Don’t worry, I won’t reveal any spoilers if you haven’t finished yet.
The story follows a teenage boy named Thomas – a charming yet seemingly reckless boy who wakes up one day in an elevator with absolutely zero memory other than knowing his name.
Abruptly, the elevator doors open, and Thomas finds himself in the Glade – a walled area at the center of an incredibly huge stone maze with walls that are hundreds of feet in height.
What’s inside the maze with Thomas and the other ‘inmates’ is horrifying and scary, and it’s up to Thomas and his new friends to try to find a way out.
The only problem is you can only enter the maze when the doors open, and you only have a limited time to search the maze for an exit before the doors close again. If you’re in the maze when the doors close – you never come back out.
Certainly, it’s a novel that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s faced-paced, gripping, and has a rollercoaster ride of a storyline.
Best Books Like The Maze Runner
Now you have been reminded of the story. It’s time to show you the best books to read if you like The Maze Runner.
1. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games is an iconic dystopian trilogy set in a world where society is divided into twelve districts based on class.
Each district lives and works to serve the Capitol, with the elite living in 1 or 2 and the impoverished living in 12.
The Capitol holds an annual event called The Hunger Games, in which one boy and one girl from each district battle to the death inside an arena, and the victor wins fame and food enough for a lifetime.
This year’s hero is Katniss Everdeen, a tribute from District 12 who enters into a fake relationship with her male tribute, Peeta Mellark as they fight for their lives in the arena.
However, as she takes part in the games, she soon realizes that their true enemies are not the other tributes but those who put them there in the first place.
This is a fast-paced, action-packed utopian book with relatable characters and a plot that keeps you hooked from start to finish. It’s also a major motion picture series starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.
Related Reading: Books Like The Hunger Games or Divergent
2. I Am Number Four – Pittacus Lore
When the Mogadorians attacked their home planet Lorien, nine aliens spread across Earth and went into hiding.
They seemed like average teenagers, but they were actually extraordinary with superhuman strength and speed. The goal was to become one and fight the Mogs, but they found them first.
The Mogs killed Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya.
This left John Smith as number four, knowing he was next on the list. With his Cepan Henri, he had no real home or past; instead only had an identity that changed constantly with every new town they visited.
In a small Ohio town however, John discovers love and powerful abilities along with a connection to others of his kind – giving him something to protect at all cost.
With each passing day he grows stronger so that one day he can take on the Mogadorians and ultimately save his planet from destruction.
If you enjoy Sci-Fi novels with action, adventure and descriptive battles – then you’re going to enjoy reading a book like the I Am Number Four series.
3. The 100 – Kass Morgan
You might have heard of the television series, but have you heard of the book? The 100 is set on a dystopian planet, Earth, where no human has lived for centuries after an all-out nuclear war.
After living high above the radioactive surface, the time has come to recolonize the planet.
Those tasked with the challenge? 100 young adults, all to have been deemed expendable by society.
With a four-split, point-of-view story, we follow Wells, Bellamy, Clarke, and Glass as they attempt to survive on Earth with only themselves as a company. If you liked The Maze Runner, you would love this series.
4. Divergent – Veronica Roth
Divergent is another dystopian novel about a class-divided society – or in this case, five factions. When each person enters adulthood, they have to decide which faction they want to belong to for life.
Tris Prior chooses Dauntless, a faction that chooses bravery. However, when her initiation comes, she finds out she’s a Divergent, which means she can’t belong to one clan.
Unable to belong to one faction, she must conceal her true status. Meanwhile, a war is looming, threatening her life and everyone she loves.
5. Red Rising – Pierce Brown
Red Rising is the epic tale of life on the dusty, dystopian, terraformed planet of Mars and how the human race has been split into a color-based class system.
Golds are the highest in society after being genetically engineered. On the other end of the spectrum are the Reds, living in squalid conditions and only having hard, manual labor for work.
The story follows Darrow, a hard-working miner believing his laborious work is paving the way for future generations to thrive on Mars.
The only issue is that life is already thriving on Mars, having settled there generations ago.
The first book in the Red Rising series, Pierce Brown’s written a fantastic debut novel, and it’s sure to entertain until the very last page.
Related Reading: Books Like Red Rising
6. Delirium – Lauren Oliver
In Lauren Oliver’s novel Delirium, readers are taken to a world where love is considered a deadly disease and at eighteen everyone must take the cure.
Portland resident Lena was prepared to do just that–until she met Alex from the wilds, an area for those who dare to resist the cure.
Alex makes her question her own beliefs and slowly but surely Lena begins to understand that maybe love isn’t so dangerous after all.
But in this new world, building around a society where love can be ‘cured’, can a girl and boy still coexist? Join Lena as she discovers that true love may be worth fighting for no matter the cost.
7. The Giver – Lois Lowry
The Giver is one of the most famous dystopian novels of all time and was banned in America because it has scenes of euthanasia.
Set in a futuristic equal society with no crimes and where everyone looks the same, this world is run by The Giver who chooses everything for their citizens – from life to parents. Once you reach 12 years old, you are assigned a job to train for the rest of your life.
Jonas is chosen to be Memory Keeper, looking after memories of war, pain, and suffering that were abandoned when the world transitioned into harmony.
As The Giver passes memories to Jonas, he discovers more about prejudice, diversity, and morality which creates a more meaningful life for him than before.
As Jonas grows up and discovers even more sensitive topics, his maturity increases as does his wisdom and challenge.
This book has become so iconic as it shows us how Jonas changes, learning more about these topics to create a richer life for himself.
If you love books from dystopian worlds and storylines that have you contemplating life, then a book like The Giver is the right book for you.
8. The Selection – Kiera Cass
Welcome to the world of The Selection, a dystopian novel in which society is split into classes labeled with numbers.
Number 1 being the elite privileged class and number 8 being reserved for those who work as servants.
For 35 girls, this means the opportunity of a lifetime – to escape their poverty-stricken life and be swept away into the lavishness of ballgowns and priceless jewels.
However, not all of them have the same outlook on it. Main character America Singer is horrified at the idea of living in a palace constantly under attack and marrying someone she doesn’t love.
She can no longer pursue her secret love with Aspen, lower than her status, nor leave her home.
But when America finally meets Prince Maxon, everything changes; she begins to question what it is that she truly wants out of life.
Will she take a chance for love or will she keep fighting for independence?
Related Reading: Books Like The Selection
9. The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey
In a world where the only rule is to trust nobody, Cassie has survived the 4th Wave and must now face the 5th.
Alien ships have descended from the sky, their inhabitants resembling humans and roaming Earth’s countryside killing anyone they come across.
Soldiers arrive at Camp Ashpit to take away the children for safety and Cassie watches her father die by their commander’s hand.
Believing that surviving alone is her only option, she meets Evan Walker – an enigmatic figure who could be her ticket for saving both Sammy and herself.
Now she faces a difficult decision: should she trust him or despair?
The 5th Wave is an award-winning novel of suspense that won both the Red House Children’s Book Award in 2014 and A YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults in 2014.
10. Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
In 2044, society is on the verge of collapse and disorder. Wade Watts only feels alive when he’s logged into the OASIS—a global virtual reality game that is a utopia for many.
Wade has dedicated his life to researching the riddles concealed inside this world’s digital limits, puzzles based on their game creator’s love of pop culture from decades ago. The prize: a promise of immense power and fortune to anyone who can solve them.
When Wade discovers the first clue, he is confronted by players eager to kill to claim the ultimate reward.
The race has begun, and if Wade is to survive, he must win. But to do that, he may need to confront the actual world from which he has always sought to flee.
11. The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken
The Darkest Minds follows sixteen-year-old Ruby, a dangerous one who unwittingly wakes up on her tenth birthday with abilities she can’t control. Her only salvation is escaping the brutal government rehabilitation camp of Thrumond, barely alive.
Desperate for safety, she sets off to East River in hope of locating the last refuge for children like her. But upon arriving at East River, everything is not as expected – especially its mysterious leader.
Worse still, there are other parties at work, determined to use Ruby against the government.
Ruby will have no choice but to make an agonizing decision; one that could mean forfeiting her only chance at survival and a life worth living.
Related Reading: Books Like The Darkest Minds
12. Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo
In Leigh Bardugo’s fantasy heist story Six of Crows, five daring teenagers join forces in an attempt to break out of an impenetrable fortress.
Set in the criminal district of Barrel Ketterdam (a 17th-century-style Amsterdam), the tale is told through alternating perspectives that keep the reader guessing.
Leading this motley crew is Kaz Brekker who is purposely imprisoned with his friends, in order to break free Yul-Bayer, the creator of a life-altering drug called Jurda Parem.
This dangerous formula needs to be kept from those who might misuse it, so Kaz and Yul must secure an escape before it’s too late.
Can they make it out with the help of Kaz’s ragtag group – or will secrecy and betrayal be their undoing?
Related Reading: Books Like Six of Crows
13. Uglies – Scott Westerfield
Uglies is the debut novel by New York Times bestselling author Scott Westerfield that is expected to become a motion picture on Netflix!
The series follows a young girl, Tally Youngblood, who is excited to turn 16. When she’s sixteen, she’ll have an operation to turn her from an ugly into a pretty.
When she’s pretty, she will be allowed to live in a high society where instead of working she gets to attend glamorous parties with her friends.
But her new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become pretty, so she runs away to join a colony of runaways in a place called The Smoke.
Special Circumstances are not happy about Shay’s disappearance, so they send Tally to go fetch her, and if she doesn’t, she won’t be turned pretty.
Tally then embarks on a journey to find Shay, and in the process, learns the truth about the pretty world and her place in it. She soon realizes it’s not always pretty to be pretty.
Uglies is a four-part series of action, coming-of-age awareness, and utopian influences.
Although the first three books are one storyline, the fourth book is disconnected in that the main character is set in Japan with a new character, Aya Chan, though Tally appears in it as a key character.
14. Battle Royale – Koushun Takami
The Battle Royale theme was thrust into the spotlight a few years ago following the popularity of the video game Fortnite which had players of all ages battling it out to be the last one standing on a deserted island.
But many people aren’t aware that Battle Royale was a novel by Japanese author Koushun Takami in 1996.
It follows a class of high school kids who venture on a field trip that goes wrong when they are forced to turn against each other in a bloody battle to the death. Think Lord of the Flies, but more gruesome.
It’s also up for debate whether Battle Royale served as inspiration for Suzanne Collins’ iconic The Hunger Games series.
All we know is that Battle Royale is a jaw-droppingly incredible read that will leave you with your heart pounding.
15. Scythe – Neal Shusterman
In an eerie, dystopian future, humans have conquered mortality. To preserve the balance of life, a select few are chosen as Scythes to take on the responsibility.
The story follows Rowan and Citra, two hopefuls vying to be chosen as apprentices.
Whoever earns this coveted title will no doubt be one step closer to becoming part of the Scythe society – but only one can succeed.
Neal Shusterman tackles notions of death and mortality head-on with his original and captivating concept in Scythe.
The book was honored with the 2017 Michael L. Printz Award for teenage novels; a testament to its thought-provoking exploration of life’s ultimate truth: death.
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Final Word on Best Books Like The Maze Runner
Whether you’re looking for a thrilling story that will have you hooked from page to page, or something with a teen protagonist who learns about their place in the world, you’ll find all of this and more in these books similar to The Maze Runner.
Whether you enjoy the gripping action scenes, the dystopian/utopia world, or the relatable characters, or maybe just the storyline, you’ll find a book to fill the void on this list.
Do you have any more books like The Maze Runner to suggest? Let me know in the comments.