Are you looking for books like the Maze Runner?
Great, because I just infiltrated and escaped from one of the old WICKED labs and have returned with a bunch of similar books that they didn’t want us to read.
And I have a super special surprise for you as well.
Just as I was leaving the lab, I found a bunch of prototype mazes in hidden files that I will share at the end of this post. You won’t believe the previous versions of the maze they built and what some of the early grievers looked like, so I hope you stick around for the end!
Not only do these similar books have incredible plots, they are deftly and often beautifully written.
And almost all of these books have some hot plague action.
Books filled with people vomiting up blood and diseases wiping out families, cities, states, and even almost entire nations (usually just America).
Lastly, though you will commonly find books like the Hunger Games and Divergent recommended alongside the The Maze Runner by James Dashner, I am steering clear of those suggestions here as I assume by now you have already read them.
Ok so I might be a little biased on this entry but if you enjoyed the Maze Runner I guarantee you are going to love this dystopian novel.
When a minor incident of insubordination at an exotic vacation city turns out to be the first tremors of a revolution, Castillia turns to its eleven-year old military prodigy Innocence and her loyal Guardians for help.
Castillia has enemies, that’s for sure. But who is fomenting this uprising?
Sedition is an old trick the southern Republic, Ausonia, with its towering obsidian pyramids, is typically fond of. In fact, the exotic city used to belong to Ausonia and they have always wanted it back.
But could they really organize such a revolt between all their dancing and drinking?
Or has Vesper, the mighty Republic to the North finally woken from its slumber? It has plenty of old scores to settle with Innocence’s City.
For Innocence, squashing the uprising could be the perfect way to end the most legendary military career Castillia has ever witnessed and begin a new, exhilarating life as a prominent politician. Perhaps the only politician in any Republic with the power to unite humanity and evacuate it from the dying planet.
But it also might just be the perfect way to start what she has secretly always yearned for:
her own Empire.
You remember the Glade.
Things were peaceful—well, peaceful as they could be for waking up with near total memory loss. And that’s how I want to start out these recommendations: nice and peaceful.
Written by Lois Lowry, this provocative story centers on a boy who is chosen to inherit a uniquely special gift of memory.
Sadly there is no Taylor Swift in this book, which makes this a rare instance where the movie is better. Yes, I said it!
Across the Universe
This book, indeed this series, is absolutely stuffed with action and mystery and philosophical questions (which are also some of the reasons why I effing love to read dystopian books).
Although Amy doesn’t have amnesia like Thomas, she is awoken from a galactic slumber 50 years early, not because she had to get up and get a drink of water or go to the bathroom, but because someone tried to kill her.
A Million Suns
The game of truths and lies and conspiracies continues in the second installment of this series of books like the Maze Runner.
Amy and Elder must work together to unlock a mystery set in motion nearly 100 years ago if they want to have any chance of saving the lives of the remaining 2,298 human beings on board the Generation ship, Godspeed.
Shades of Earth
Home at last!
Well…not so much.
While Amy and Elder do make it to their planned destination of Centauri-Earth (no shocker there) what is shocking is what they find (hint: they’re not alone). So, instead of finding a resting place, their harrowing journey continues as Amy and Elder have to figure out how to save the struggling colony that they have traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to establish.
Will it be all for naught?
Much like the Maze Runner, this book has a lot of mystery and it falls to a group of plucky young adults to save the world from the “adults.”
The intrigue will keep your fingers swiping or turning pages late into the evening as you and Kiera try to discover a cure to RM (kinda like the Flare) before it destroys the dwindling human race (we’re down to about 36,000 people).
Or at least before the government decides to lower the pregnancy age. Again. Yuck.
The canvas refreshingly broadens in Fragments, which is the second text in the Partials Sequence.
As Kira picks through postapocalyptic America (going to Denver and Chicago), we get to learn more about ParaGen (the corporation responsible for creating the Partials), the Partials, Kira, and Marcus. Kira allies herself with the mentally unstable IT Director of ParaGen in hopes of finding a cure before the Partials and humans destroy each other.
The adventure here is in chasing down clues and debating the bioethical dilemma, which will lead you quickly to the cliffhanger ending, ensuring that you read the final book in this series.
If you made it this far into the series then you probably will love the ending. The war that has been lurking in the background for the previous two books finally arrives:
Rebellious robots versus desperate humans bent on taking back what’s theirs (mostly their right to live and thrive). The stakes are as high as they have ever been: the complete and total annihilation of the human race.
And since both the Partials and the humans each have at their disposal a weapon that could utterly destroy the other side, is it just a matter of who works up the nerve to strike first?
This is one of the books like the Maze Runner that I can’t recommend to everyone enough.
Emotionally, this is a lot deeper and the writing is far more lyrical than the Maze Runner.
Red Rising is also a lot more brutal which is unsurprising given that it is steeped in Greek and Roman lore.
The opening scene depicts the main character’s father just after he’s done the “Devil’s Dance,” which on Mars is the name given to the flailing motion people make with their feet as they are strangled to death by a noose.
You will change slang like “shuckface” for “bloodydamnfine” and that’s a “bloodydamnfinegood” thing.
Everything you love about the first book gets amplified in Golden Son. While I am not a fan of this cover (the golden laurel is great, but the 20 second photoshop flame is bloodydamnawful), I am a complete and utter fan of everything else in this book.
Number one reason to read Golden Son? Because the protagonist gets called a “whorefart.”
Just kidding, the real reason to read this book is because of a character named Kavax au Telemanus, who feeds his pet fox jellybeans.
Blood Red Road
Are you done gawking at the cover?
Ok, ok take another look—it is a gorgeous cover.
Say farewell to everyone you know for the next day because once you start this book you will fly through Moria Young’s Blood Red Road, the first book of the Dust Lands series.
Blood Red Road follows the female protagonist Saba (who is as rough as the post-apocalyptic desert landscape) as she sets out across a post-apocalyptic future in order to save her twin brother, Lugh.
Strong, charismatic, and dare I say, Katniss Everdeenesque, when Lugh gets kidnapped by four hooded riders (not leaving the shire, incidentally) she grabs a crossbow and joins forces with a “gang of girl revolutionaries” known as the Free Hawks to save him.
I could continue with a brief synopsis but here is why you need to read this book: it has cage fights and gigantic sand worms.
I’m not including a picture of this book cover because its some silhouetted dude with a stick pointing out of his bunghole. Now, on to why you should read continue to read these books like the Maze Runner.
The second book in the Dust Lands trilogy is still full of ass-kickery, insane plot twists, and some really trippy hallucinations, but you will start to hate Saba which is a really edgy authorial move. #Respect.
You will also definitely hate Lugh and become slightly weirded out by him because of his, uh, growing fondness for his sister. Again, another edgy decision on the part of author Moria Young which is why this series is great.
In Rebel Heart Jack’s silver eyes haven’t looked at Saba for quite some time—because he is far, far away—headed toward the storm belt and a tavern called The Lost Cause. (How can you not read this book??)
A new villain known as The Pathfinder has emerged promising to create a paradisiacal New Eden out of the desert the Wreckers left the world in. When Jack gets into trouble, Saba will everything and everyone to save him…
What I continued to enjoy about this series is that it really does defy a lot of the expectations that have been implanted into my mind when I open up YA dystopian novels.
So be prepared to be brutally shoved out of your comfort zone.
I have this thing for great book titles.
And I love this one, which is wonderfully crafted.
One of my most favorite titles ever is a poem by John Keats called “Bright Star.” I also have a deep and natural love of the word “star,” and have been called a starry eyed metaphysician by classmates at Cambridge, so it only makes sense that I completely adore this book.
This series is pretty hard core as you might imagine from the rough grammar, girl on girl cage fights, unforgiving post-apocalyptic landscape and hellwurms.
And as the final installment in a gritty dystopian young adult series the body count is high and the final outcome is grim.
I’ve saved the best for last.
Orson Scott Card wrote one of the greatest books of all time when he completed Ender’s Game.
If you enjoyed the Maze Runner, you are absolutely going to love the adventure of Ender Wiggins.
This is one of the books like the Maze Runner where the older ruling government is continually testing the youth on an ever increasing and deadly scale of difficulty.
Oh yea, one more thing.
Ender’s Game has the best ending of any book ever written. No really, it does.
So if you hated the fact that the Maze Runner left you with more questions than answers, you are going to be thrilled with Ender’s game because the ending is both awesome and fulfilling.
Bonus! Secret History of the Maze from WICKED!
Congratulations! You made it to the end! Here is the secret history of how the scientists and government bureaucrats from WICKED made the maze we all know and fear.
First they built one in a digital world because labor was cheap:
They also built one in a desert and put this crazy guy who likes to sing in the middle of it.
Then they built a really nice one:
But still, it was too nice so they built a spooky one at a British boarding school.
Then of course…they built the MAZE! Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’entrate!