The story begins with the main character Thomas unconscious and trapped in a metal box with no light. He suddenly wakes up gasping for fresh air, and wanting to know where he is. For some odd reason his memory has been erased making it hard to remember simple stuff like his own age. The only clear thing he knows is his name. 30 minutes pass and the mental box finally stops moving upwards.
The metal gate above him suddenly burst open. The bright sunlight shining right on his face as it blurs his vision. As he regains focus he spots about 50 boys staring at him like a hawk. Most of them look about the same age as him, some younger and some older. Thomas gets out of the cage looking at his surroundings but only spots 4 giant brick walls surrounding the many buildings. The two leaders, Alby and Newt then give Thomas a tour of the glade.
They explain how all the teens sent here lost their memory. Out side these 4 walls is a maze leading to their exit. They have not been able to crack the code for two years. Inside the maze are weird creatures called grievers who kill gladers trying to escape the maze. Each night the doors leading to the maze shut close not allowing gladers to enter the maze or grievers to enter the glade. Each month the glade receives a new newbie and supplies to try and help them escape the maze.
The reason gladers are alive is because they are really productive and smart. Every single one of them has a daily job to complete. There are 8 main jobs in the glade. Runners, builders, cooks, slicers, gardeners, med jacks, baggers and sloppers. Alby had assigned Thomas over to become a slicer. Slicer are the gladers who take care of the farm and all the animals, such as sheep pig, cows, chicken and rabbits.
Thomas was not always intrigued at being a slicer. He wanted to go explore the maze and help crack the code. Each day he would watch the runners enter the maze and exit at the same time. He had asked Newt about becoming a runner but his idea was quickly shot down. Newt had addressed that becoming a runner took a lot of skill and training and that newbies were not allowed to become runner.
As he was feeding the chicken a deafening and intense alarm started to sound all over the glade. Suddenly everyone dropped what they were doing and swiftly dashed towards the metal cage. Lying inside was a unconscious female. There had never been two newbies sent up in one month yet alone a girl. The teens all looked around, amazed and puzzled. Laying down next to her was a crumbled up note, reading SHE IS THE LAST ONE.