Author: James Dashner
Genre: YA, prequels, apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic, mystery, thriller
Publication Date: August 14, 2012 (Random House – North America)
Source: NetGalley Review Copy
Summary: The prequel to the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series.
Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.
Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.
Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.
☆: 4/5 stars – awesome prequel, but still leaves a few important trilogy questions unanswered.
Review: Okay, so for fair disclosure: I still haven’t gotten to reading the third book in the “Maze Runner” trilogy, “The Death Cure”, before reading this prequel.
I love this trilogy. I’m so happy it’s getting a film, because it’s going to be awesome (especially for book 2, when it all gets real). So when I found out that the trilogy was getting a prequel, I was really excited. And you know what? It lived up to most of my expectations – keyword here being “most”. I’m not sure if some of these questions get answered in “The Death Cure”, so I can’t really pass judgment on questions like “How did WICKED as we know it get formed?” and so forth. All I know is that I was disappointed that that answer wasn’t included within “The Kill Order”. However, the rest of it? Really awesome.
What I think makes me the most happy about this prequel is that we finally get a time frame in which we see when both the events in the trilogy and this prequel take place. As Dashner himself said to me at ALA, we do get the gap between when the flares take place and the events of “Maze Runner” take place. And the prologue does a great job of doing that – giving us information on Teresa and the other participants of the Glade, with their POVs and the POVs of some of the most important WICKED scientists that we see in the trilogy. I thought that this was an excellent touch, giving us a quick dual POV chapter before plunging into how the world as we know it came to be. Between the sun flares that help destroy the earth and the events in “Maze Runner”, thirteen years elapse. Later in the book, we’re also given a time marker in terms of years (as in, how many years from now) – we know that it’s happening after “The War of 2020”. My guess is somewhere in the 2030s and beyond. As the time frame of the trilogy was really driving me nuts, I’m really happy this got at least semi-answered by Dashner in this book.
I can safely say that within the books I’ve read in the trilogy, Dashner doesn’t really focus on character development as much as he focuses on plot. The trilogy is very plot-driven, and that isn’t a bad thing – it is what it is. And I really enjoyed every moment of it. In “The Kill Order”, he also focuses a lot on plot-driven material instead of character development. Usually this would frustrate me, but Dashner does plot-driven so well, I can’t complain. “Kill Order” is no exception. The cascade of events after the prologue just keep getting worse – sun flares, which we thought under control should they hit the planet, completely fry people and the liquify what’s left of the polar ice caps. In this environment, we see the development of the precursor to WICKED, the PFC (Post-Flares Coalition) – what’s left of the ruling bodies of the world coming together to try to keep order from completely breaking down.
What I love about Dashner is that he isn’t afraid to torture and kill his darlings in order to get emotional cache and returns on it. And torture the hell out of his darlings does he in “Kill Order”. Just when you say to yourself, “Oh man, things can’t possibly get any worse”, they do. And I love that. We do get answers to questions about how the Flare (the disease) began, and how bizarrely it behaves as a virus. From a virological POV, I like how Dashner fashioned the Flare – it didn’t behave as predicted and turned into something so frightening that I had nightmares for a few days afterward about it. Much like in Justin Cronin’s “The Passage”, we have the magical chosen girl who seems to be immune to the effects of the disease, and she becomes the focus of the last part of the book. Now, we don’t know her fate (one lack of answering that got me disgruntled), but from the end of events, we do know that she wasn’t enough to help develop a cure, or even a vaccine. Just enough to get an idea of how badly awry the virus went, and to what chilling lengths people will do to “keep order” in the name of saving what’s left of the planet.
I could go on, but I won’t. Final verdict? If you’ve read the trilogy, this is a DEFINITE must read. But fair warning – some of the most important questions (How/When did WICKED get founded?) will NOT get answered here. Maybe one day we’ll get an answer, but it’s sadly not in “The Kill Order”. Regardless, I really, really enjoyed it and am sad this story is finally over. “The Kill Order” is out from Random House in North America on August 14, 2012, so be sure to check it out then! It’s definitely a great read that will get your pulse racing and leave you wanting more.