"The Maze Runner" by James Dashner, Chapters 1–13

Thomas wakes up in a strange place with his memories erased, surrounded by people he doesn't know. The only way out is through a shifting, kaleidescopic maze—and no one has ever reached the end.

Here are links to our lists for the book: Chapters 1–13, Chapters 14–26, Chapters 27–40, Chapters 41–53, Chapter 54–Epilogue

Here is a link to our lists for The Kill Order by James Dashner.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. adjust
    adapt or conform oneself to new or different conditions
    Sinking to the floor, he pulled his legs up tight against his body, hoping his eyes would soon adjust to the darkness.
  2. predicament
    an unpleasant or difficult situation
    His mind functioned without flaw, trying to calculate his surroundings and predicament.
    "Predicament" comes from the same Latin roots as "predict." How the noun evolved from a statement about the future to a difficult situation in the present is unclear. In the example sentence, Thomas is in a predicament he could not have predicted or prevented.
  3. stagger
    walk as if unable to control one's movements
    Still dazzled by the light, he staggered a bit.
    Compare to this sentence: "He staggered back a step, awed once again by the structure of his new home." Both describe Thomas having trouble staying on his feet, but in the first, he staggers because of the light, while in the second, he staggers because he is staggered ("astound or overwhelm, as with shock") by the sight of the massive walls.
  4. bizarre
    conspicuously or grossly unconventional or unusual
    Thomas suddenly felt dizzy, his eyes flickering between the boys and the bizarre place in which he’d found himself.
  5. disorienting
    causing loss of physical or intellectual bearings
    It was as if his memory loss had stolen a chunk of his language—it was disorienting.
    The Latin noun "orientem" means "the rising sun, the east, part of the sky where the sun rises." People used to rely on the sun to find their way. Turning away from the sun (or east) was disorienting, which often resulted in being lost. The example sentence focuses on mental confusion, but Thomas is also physically and emotionally lost.
  6. dominance
    the power or right to give orders or make decisions
    Different emotions battled for dominance in his mind and heart.
  7. bombard
    throw bombs at or attack with bombs
    As he breathed in deeply, trying to settle his nerves, a mixture of smells bombarded him.
    The sense of smell is activated by the nose's contact with molecules. So Thomas is literally bombarded when he breathes in the dirt, manure, and pine. But the verb is also used figuratively here to emphasize the nerve-attacking strangeness of the Glade, especially to a newbie like Thomas.
  8. overwhelm
    overcome, as with emotions or perceptual stimuli
    Thomas sat there for several moments, too overwhelmed to move.
  9. grasp
    understand the meaning of something
    He didn’t sound comfortable saying the last word, as if he hadn’t quite grasped the slang of the Glade.
  10. intact
    undamaged in any way
    He mostly remembered the workings of the world—but emptied of specifics, faces, names. Like a book completely intact but missing one word in every dozen, making it a miserable and confusing read.
  11. onslaught
    a rapid and continuous outpouring
    As if the taunting gave Thomas a sudden burst of courage, he walked over to the lit door, ignoring the creaking floorboards and laughter downstairs—ignoring the onslaught of words he didn’t understand, suppressing the dreadful feelings they induced.
    "Laugh" can be found inside "onslaught" but the same strings of letters are pronounced differently and the two words are not normally connected. But here, the laughter is accompanied by an onslaught of words that could figuratively slaughter one's courage. But Thomas does not back down, partly because he doesn't understand, but mostly because of his inner strength.
  12. murmur
    speak softly or indistinctly
    “I . . . uh . . . want some answers,” he murmured, but he couldn’t put any strength in his words—felt himself give up inside.
  13. vertigo
    a reeling sensation; a feeling that you are about to fall
    He felt an uncomfortable sense of vertigo looking at the towering walls, as if he hovered above them instead of sitting at their base.
  14. gape
    look with amazement
    Thomas gaped, his mind emptying of thought as he saw it all firsthand.
  15. churn
    be agitated
    Thomas stared, his mind churning to come up with any possible explanation for what he’d just witnessed.
  16. disquiet
    a feeling of mild anxiety about possible developments
    Nothing developed, but something about that creepy old building gave him goose bumps, a disquieting chill.
  17. stifle
    impair the respiration of or obstruct the air passage of
    An onrushing sense of claustrophobia stifled him, compressed his lungs, as if water filled their cavities.
    The Latin verb "claudere" means "to close." A claustrophobic person who feels closed in might physically react with a closing of airways (here, the verbs "stifle" and "compress" are synonyms). This makes the fear worse. But Thomas will face worse fears that he must stifle ("smother or suppress" and "conceal or hide") in order to give himself and other Gladers a chance to breathe another day.
  18. defy
    The enormous stone wall to the right of them seemed to defy every known law of physics as it slid along the ground, throwing sparks and dust as it moved, rock against rock.
  19. obscurity
    the quality of being unclear and hard to understand
    He tried to grasp the memory, hold on to it, complete the picture with faces, names, a place, but it faded into obscurity.
  20. epiphany
    a divine manifestation
    The feeling—the epiphany—was a strange one, foreign and familiar at the same time.
    The Latin verb "phainein" means "to bring to light, explain" so an epiphany usually clears up confusion. But here, Thomas has an epiphany that is confusing, because it tells him what he needs to do, but he doesn't understand how he knows this. There is no mention of any divine being guiding him (in fact, Gally later accuses him of thinking he's a god).
  21. murky
    clouded as with sediment
    He stopped when Newt did, right next to the massive wall towering above them like a skyscraper—another random image that floated in the murky pool of his memory wipe.
  22. eerie
    inspiring a feeling of fear; strange and frightening
    Glimmers of an eerie light shone through the window; it cast a wavering spectrum of colors on Newt’s body and face, as if he stood next to a lighted swimming pool.
  23. massive
    imposing in size or bulk or solidity
    How could a maze, with walls so massive and tall, be so big that dozens of kids hadn’t been able to solve it after who knew how long trying? How could such a structure exist? And more importantly, why?
  24. baffling
    hard to comprehend, solve, or believe
    His memory loss was baffling in its complexity.
  25. inexplicable
    incapable of being explained or accounted for
    He giggled as he elbowed Thomas in the ribs, a high-pitched snicker that inexplicably made Thomas like him more.
  26. clench
    squeeze together tightly
    Thomas stared back, confused, his face turning bright red, his gut clenching.
    Compare with "grasp." Another definition for "clench" is "hold in a tight grasp" so the two verbs can be synonyms. But "clench" refers only to a physical squeezing or holding of something, while "grasp" can also refer to the figurative image of holding an idea in one's mind and understanding it.
  27. dumbfounded
    as if rendered speechless with astonishment and surprise
    Newt had read the message aloud for those who couldn’t see the paper, but instead of erupting in confusion, the Gladers all stood dumbfounded.
  28. consuming
    very intense
    They’d come a day apart, she seemed familiar, he had a consuming urge to become a Runner despite learning so many terrible things.
  29. contemplation
    a calm, lengthy, intent consideration
    Thomas watched all this in mute contemplation.
  30. logic
    reasoned and reasonable judgment
    Logic told him it had to be his mind playing tricks on him, but he swore he saw the word WICKED scrawled down its rounded back in large green letters.
  31. tangible
    capable of being treated as fact
    Once again, he remembered a tangible thing from his past, but couldn’t assign it to any specific time or place, couldn’t associate it with any other person or event.
  32. jumble
    a confused multitude of things
    He pushed and swatted at his attacker, a relentless jumble of skin and bones cavorting on top of him as he tried to gain purchase.
    "Jumble" describes both the crazed movements of the attacker's skin and bones and the reaction of Thomas to being attacked. "Relentless" ("never giving in, as to influence or pressure") describes the attacker trying to gain purchase ("the advantage gained by being in a position to use a lever"), but it fits the attitude of both fighters, who are not cavorting ("play boisterously") with each other.
  33. mesmerized
    having your attention fixated as though by a spell
    But he couldn’t move; he was too mesmerized, too scared.
  34. penetrate
    become clear or enter one's consciousness or emotions
    If anything had penetrated the haze of his long morning, it had been thoughts of her.
  35. perplexed
    full of difficulty or confusion or bewilderment
    He trailed off, a perplexed look wrinkling his eyebrows.

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