The Kill Order review

Book: The Kill Order

Author: James Dashner

I don’t usually read prequels to series, because they’re never as good as the series itself and they never have any of the characters you loved from the books in them much, if at all so I was a little apprehensive about reading The Kill Order. I was right in some ways, it wasn’t as good as The Maze Runner, and I did miss all my favourite characters from that series. The problem with prequels (or sequels after an original trilogy) is that they are one book only with new characters introduced and you’re not able to get attached to them in the same way that you get attached to characters in a series of books as you don’t follow their journey over time. It gives the background of the flare (the disease that makes people go mad in the maze runner series), the world after the sun flares hit and also how WICKED came to be. It’s meant to be a prequel but I reckon if you’re going to read it, you should read it after The Maze Runner as one of the great things about The Maze Runner is that just like the characters I was always questioning things and not quite knowing what was going on and I enjoyed that, plus it gives spoilers for the main series. This book is good when after finishing The Death Cure, you are frustrated and want answers to your still unanswered questions! Here is a short synopsis of the book:

When sun flares hit the Earth, intense heat, toxic radiation and flooding followed, wiping out much of the human race. Those who survived live in basic communities in the mountains, hunting for food. For Mark and his friends, surviving is difficult, and then an enemy arrives, infecting people with a highly contagious virus. Thousands die, and the virus is spreading. Worse, it’s mutating, and people are going crazy. It’s up to Mark and his friends to find the enemy – and a cure – before the Flare infects them all …

I didn’t hate this book, I just didn’t love it either. I didn’t feel connections to many of the main characters so the ending (not going to spoil anything other than saying it’s sad) didn’t leave me as sad as what happened to Newt in Death Cure and it really should have. The character development in this book is lacking, we don’t really find out much about the main characters, or their families or backgrounds, other than really basic stuff. All the way through, it’s pretty much all action and violence. Now I usually love action and violence in a book because it makes it exciting but this was non-stop. It doesn’t give you time as a reader to catch your breath and too much action gets boring. It loses it’s impact, you’re like, “oh they’re in a fight again” and so you kind of stop caring whether they survive the next fight or not. The action is well written but it’s at the cost of character development, which I would have rather had instead of the endless fight scenes. The action that happens is also pretty similar, it’s usually Mark being pinned down by someone and him throwing them off, Mark ending up hanging out the Berg window during a fight or Mark and Alec fighting a load of cranks, that’s it.

The main characters consist of Mark and Trina (two teenagers), Lana (an army medic), Alec (a former soldier) and DeeDee (a little girl). Out of these characters the only one I truly loved was Alec. If I had known more about him I probably would have loved him even more but he was just so clever, strong, gruff yet caring that I couldn’t help but love him. The scene where he had to vaporise Lana (spoiler alert) was heartbreaking. Mark was okay, so was Trina but they were ultimately quite bland characters who I wasn’t emotionally invested in as I was with the Gladers. There wasn’t much of Lana, she seemed pretty cool I guess but she wasn’t in it enough for me to be invested in her and because DeeDee was so young she didn’t do much. One of the things I loved about The Maze Runner series was that there was always some hope there, but in The Kill Order it is completely depressing, I felt like as soon as the darts were released and the flare started to spread, all hope was lost. That was probably what Dashner wanted us to feel but it just wasn’t for me. I’m all for reading dark books but I like there to be some hope but I can understand why he did it the way he did. Knowing that there is no chance for the characters doesn’t exactly help in getting attached to them either.

Having said all these things, I loved the way this story showed how the Flare progressed in people and the way it mutated in different people, I thought that was really cool and something we didn’t really get to see enough of in the original Maze Runner books. It was really scary watching Mark and the others go mad, there was a particular scene in the Berg (helicopter) where Mark almost crushes a man who is attacking him in the door and it was really horrifying to read particularly when I realised he had the Flare. The way he described these people who were going mad was so vivid (my favourite description was that the Flare was like bugs eating your brain) which I loved. I also liked the way it went between past and present so we could see the initial impact of the sun flares as well as the longer lasting effects we see in the present. I loved the relationship between Mark and Alec too, the banter between them and the way they acted like father and son was nice. I wasn’t sure what to think of the relationship between Mark and Trina, it was nice but I wasn’t emotionally invested in it.

Whilst it did give some answers into the Flare and why it was released, there are still so many questions I want answers to! I would rather have had a prequel where we were told about the Gladers’ lives before the maze and their memories were wiped, how WICKED was formed, the role that Thomas and Teresa played on creating the maze and why out of all of the immune they were special, the names of the gladers before they went into the maze (since they were given their current names by WICKED) etc. There are so many more things that could be explored in this series which is why a prequel showing this would have been preferable to the one we got (although the great news is that Dashner is releasing a sequel to this prequel in 2016, called The Fever Code, which will apparently cover the gladers before the maze and is supposed to link The Kill Order more to The Maze Runner) so I’m looking forward to that and hope it will be really good! There also aren’t really any tie ins with the original trilogy, it reads more as a standalone novel bookended with a prologue and an epilogue about Thomas and Teresa, and I suppose that maybe if I’d read it as a standalone novel rather than prequel to the trilogy I may have enjoyed it more. The only link to The Maze Runner is that the little girl, DeeDee is Teresa when she was younger, before WICKED changed her name. However I got the new edition copy of The Kill Order and so the epilogue in my book doesn’t end with that, it ends with WICKED picking up Thokas from his home and choosing his new name to be Thomas. I think Dashner should have kept the original epilogue in both editions of The Kill Order, as I read it online and the other epilogue makes The Kill Order tie in so much better with the trilogy as it gives some of the details of Teresa’s life before the maze. Without it, DeeDee just seems like some random little girl and you don’t get why it’s so important. Knowing what happened to Teresa when she was younger makes her fate at the end of Death Cure sadder but I still kind of hate her for what she did to Thomas in Scorch Trials.

The actual Kill Order was just what we had heard in Death Cure, we didn’t learn anything new there as we already knew that the Flare had been released as a way to control the population after the flare. It does raise an interesting question though, how far the government could and would go if a disaster like the sun flares of this book actually happened? I would hope they wouldn’t go as far as releasing a deadly virus into the population but desperate times do call for desperate measures and it’s not completely out of the question that something like that could happen in a scenario such as the sun flares. I do admit I find it hard to work out why they decided to use an untried, untested virus that they didn’t have a vaccine for rather than a deadly virus that they did have a vaccine for and so could infect a number of the population and immunise the rest so the population was controlled and so was the spread of the virus. I guess it wouldn’t have made a very good story if that had happened though as Dashner writes the zombie-like Cranks very well.

Sometimes the fight scenarios seemed a little unrealistic, the amount of times Mark and Alec managed to beat large numbers of cranks even when exhausted, starved and sleep deprived was ridiculous. I mean I get that these characters are supposed to be strong and good fighters but there is no way they could really beat that many people, that many times in the state that they were in.

I have to admit the ending of the book, whilst I wasn’t as sad as I could have been had I felt more connected to the characters was beautiful. It was sad obviously but it was written so well and I disagree with those who say they didn’t like the ending. Yes we all love a happy ending but it was clear it wasn’t going to happen in this book and this was the most logical and best way to end the book. It’s also quite a short an easy to read book which I liked because I have quite a lot of long books in my current pile of “books to read” and so being short meant that I got through it a lot quicker and so can get on to the other books I want to read. Dashner isn’t the best at writing women either, the three female characters in this book Trina, DeeDee and Lana are not fully formed characters and they barely do anything but this is similar in The Maze Runner Trilogy, the few girls are not the most memorable characters in the story and it’s the boys who get most of the action scenes. I didn’t find this detracted from my enjoyment of The Maze Runner because the boys were just so cool and I loved them but since no one was very well developed in this book, it kind of did detract that the boys were doing all the action stuff and the girls were doing nothing and had no personality so it seemed as if well why are they there? Dashner really needs to work on writing his female characters, so they are more than just props, only there for the boys to save.

The group camaraderie from the Maze Runner books is missing here too. Mark and Alex have some nice banter between them and I loved their relationship but the dynamic between Minho, Newt and Thomas in the books is so much better, more like a great group of friends than Mark and Alec were. Yes they had a nice father-son like relationship but it felt like something was missing there, that wasn’t missing in the group in The Maze Runner.

Overall this wasn’t a terrible book, it was okay and if reading it not in the context of The Maze Runner series it might actually be even better, however it just doesn’t compare to the original trilogy. There seemed to be no point to writing this book, other than for Dashner to make more money off The Maze Runner series because it wasn’t really a prequel, more of a spin off and we don’t really get any of our burning questions from the trilogy answered. Having said that if you like a completely action driven story then you would probably enjoy this book just on it’s own without the trilogy since you don’t really need to have read the trilogy to understand the majority of the book. For me however it was a let down after a series I enjoyed as much as I enjoyed The Maze Runner trilogy and I wouldn’t recommend it for fans of the series as it doesn’t add anything to it. You’re better off waiting until 2016 (which is way too long away!) for The Fever Code which will actually have the characters from the trilogy in it, and hopefully will finally answer some or all of the burning questions fans are left with after reading the trilogy.

My Rating: 3/5

The next book I will be reviewing is the final book in The Heroes of Olympus Series, The Blood Of Olympus, by Rick Riordan.

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The Death Cure review

Book: The Death Cure

Author: James Dashner

this is such an amazing series of books and I can’t recommend them enough. each book is better than the next and this finale to the original trilogy (there is now a prequel) is thrilling. This last book is explosive and action packed-WICKED is at its all time worst in this book and there is no doubt in my mind after this book that WICKED is not good. Here is a synopsis from the book:

The Trials are over. WICKED have collected all the information they can. Now it’s up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test. But something has happened that no-one at WICKED has foreseen: Thomas has remembered more than they think. And he knows WICKED can’t be trusted … The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than anyone could have imagined. With the Gladers divided, can they all make it?

At the end of the Scorch Trials, Thomas was taken to a white padded cell. Teresa reached out to him in a dream and told him that he was taken away because the flare was too deep rooted in his mind. Obviously her parting words are her favourite mantra-WICKED is good-as if.

As you may have expected, Rat Man (who appears in the Scorch Trials) tells the Gladers that there was never a cure and that most of the gladers are actually immune to the flare, whilst others are not and they were hoping to study the immune to see why their brain resists the flare so that they can develop a cure for the diseased. Thomas can’t decide whether to fight for a cure or to flee from WICKED and be free once and for all. Throughout this book Thomas is trying to work out if WICKED are the good guys or the bad and it’s not always clear to us as readers either. I don’t feel that WICKED is good but you may disagree with me after reading the book-i think Dashner leaves us free to make up our own minds as Thomas also does.

When Teresa and her group disappear (leaving only Newt, Minho & Thomas), Thomas finds his loyalties tested to the limit particularly when he discovers that Brenda and Jorge work for WICKED. As the plot unfolds an old enemy of Thomas’s returns (I won’t tell you who as this will spoil the plot) and a new group The Right Arm (sort of the anti WICKED) is revealed. Thomas is torn between whether to trust Brenda, who he now knows work for WICKED, or Teresa, after her betrayal in the previous book and whether WICKED or The Right Arm are really the good guys? To make his decision even harder, one of his friends (I won’t say who) is deeply infected by the Flare, which makes his decision to stay with WICKED and hope they do in fact find a cure, or leave to stop the manipulation from WICKED.

This third book in the series is by far my favourite. The chapters are fast paced and intense and as with all of the books, there is a twist at the end of each chapter. Without the constraints of WICKED or the Maze, we get to see the flare infested planet in all of it’s horror-the part at the crank palace is particularly horrific but it’s incredibly well described by Dashner. Also with WICKED no longer manipulating him, Thomas becomes far more rebellious and free spirited and we learn more about the personal intentions of different characters and how far they will go to get their revenge on WICKED. The mind games from WICKED are far from over though-there’s a great scene in which Thomas is being manipulated by WICKED that shows how evil they truly are and all of Rat Man’s scenes are incredibly creepy and show just how far he will go for a cure-in sheer creepiness the Rat Man is one of the best characters Dashner has created. Thomas is forced to make difficult decisions in this book, but it’s not just him so do Brenda, Jorge and Minho. The themes of love, trust and friendship are beautifully portrayed in this book.

Death Cure is set across a far wider landscape than the Scorch trials or the Maze runner were and we get to see a lot more places-the Crank Palace being my particular favourite-not because of what it contains but just because it is so well described by Dashner. The pace is very rapid and could easily be seen as a movie-in fact a little too fast in someways-I think this could actually have done with another book to finish the series just so more of the loose ends are tied up-you are still left with so many questions by the end of the book, but maybe that is the way Dashner wanted it, like the characters, we never know everything about everyone in this book. The only character’s back story we get to see is Thomas’s (and by extension Teresa’s) and I almost wish we’d been able to see more of the others’ past.

I think the ending is what it should be. I don’t want to spoil it for everyone else but it is a logical way to end the series and fits with the way his written the story. The final few chapters are explosive and I feel a well written ending to an amazing book.

This is such a brilliant trilogy that I really cannot recommend it enough to people. It’s incredibly written, exciting and an overall enjoyable experience reading these books.

My rating: 5/5 (and if i could give it more, I would)

The next book I will be writing a review for is Burn-the final book in the Pure trilogy by Julianna Baggott

The Scorch Trials Review

Book: The Scorch Trials
Author: James Dashner
This is the second book in The Maze Runner trilogy. The tag line says “the maze was only the beginning” and boy is it the truth. At the end of the Maze Runner, the boys thought they were safe, which couldn’t be further from the truth. WICKED-World In Catastrophe Killzone Experiment Department, are the evil creators of the maze, the ones who put Thomas and his friends through their hell in The Maze Runner. Now they’ve tricked Thomas and his friends all over again.

Here is a short synopsis of the book:
Thomas was sure that escape from the maze meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one knew what sort of life they were going back to. The earth is a wasteland. Government and order have disintegrated and now Cranks, people driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim and meal.Thomas can only wonder – does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED? The pulse-pounding sequel to The Maze Runner.
WICKED made Thomas and his friends think that they were safe but now they are thrown into a new kind of hell-the Scorch Trials-they have to make their way across a vast expanse of desert, destroyed by the sun flares that ruined the world and meant the boys ended up in the maze. Dashner once again does a great job of describing how horrible the Scorch is, the oppressive heat and the awful lightning storms that could fry you if you get hit by a lightning strike. The plot as with the Maze Runner was incredible and I feel like you know a little more about Thomas by the end of the book as some of his memories start to return although we still don’t really know anything about anyone else. There is some development of the Teresa/Thomas romance but it gets smashed to smithereens-I won’t say much on this so as not to ruin the book for those who haven’t read it but essentially Teresa is not who you think she is and you find yourself wanting to punch her by the end of the book for hurting Thomas so bad-and I think he feels the same! She thinks she can get away with anything and do anything to Thomas and she’ll still be his best friend-I was glad that Thomas doesn’t really seem to trust her anymore by the end of the book though. A few new characters are introduced in this book, the most important being Brenda and Jorge.

I liked Thomas’ relationship with Brenda, more so than that of Teresa and there is a huge cliffhanger involving her, so I really want to see more of her past now. Jorge only has a short role in The Scorch Trials which will hopefully be expanded in the last book as I liked him and his scenes with both Minho and Thomas were great. This book is amazing, even better than the first. The addition of the cranks-people who have been infected by the flare-a disease occurring since the sun flares ruined the world which makes you go crazy and which the boys where put in the maze for as WICKED supposedly infected them with the flare to analyse their brain patterns and work out a cure-the cranks are a great addition, they add an extra dimension of horror to the book. After The Scorch Trials, the maze does seem incredibly tame. My love for Minho increased with this book because he kind of echoes my thoughts in his suspicions of WICKED and he’s really determined but he manages to bring some humour to the book which is nice-it’s more sarky humour but that fits really well with the book.

Another new character in this book is Aris and I wasn’t really drawn to him and since he was involved in the bad thing that Teresa did to Thomas, I kind of hated him by the end of the book.

Basically this book is amazing and anyone who thinks they might like it should go out and buy it!

My rating-5/5
The next book review will be for the final book of this series The Death Cure-I’m reading it at the moment, and I’m kind of sad that this amazing series is almost over for me.

 

The Maze Runner review

Book: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
This was a book my friend got me for Christmas last year and I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it but I loved it! It’s a real page turner and although it’s billed as like the Hunger games, it’s really not-it’s even better if that’s possible. Here’s a synopsis of the book:
When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone. He’s surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade – a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze. Like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they came to be there – or what’s happened to the world outside. All they know is that every morning when the walls slide back, they will risk everything – even the Grievers, half-machine, half-animal horror that patrol its corridors, to try and find out.
The mystery is part of what makes the book so good, so it’s quite difficult to review without giving away major plot spoilers. The chapters are relatively short but each chapter is so exciting that it doesn’t matter because you just want to keep reading. It’s very original, I’ve never read anything like it before. It’s going to make an incredible movie when that comes out because everything is so descriptive and it feels like you’re watching a movie when you’re reading it. Everytime you get answers, you are thrown more questions. Thomas, the protagonist can’t remember who he is when he arrives in the Glade, which basically means that you are as in the dark as the gladers themselves are which I loved because it means you get to learn about Thomas’ past as he does. The society the boys set up reminds me a little of Lord of The Flies except that it functions must better.

The grievers (these weird mechanical/animal hybrid things) are so creepy, but incredibly well written and you can easily understand why the gladers are so afraid. The gladers life in the maze gets turned upside down whe the last ever gladers and only girl-Teresa arrives, in a coma and it really changes the dynamic between this group of boys. Thomas recognises Teresa but he doesn’t know why and you are just as intrigued as he is to find out who she is in relation to him. The only thing he really knows is that he is destined to become a runner-one of the boys who run out in the maze trying to solve it. The chapters always end on some kind of cliffhanger meaning you have to read on and this is particularly important when bad things start happening after Teresa arrives. There’s no sugar coating of the blood and gore and evil of the maze but that just adds to the amazing world Dashner has created. Thomas himself is an incredibly complex character as he seems like the hero but as he learns more about his past, it’s clear he’s not quite as good as he’d like to think-yet you still really root for Thomas and his friends.

Hope, love and trust are the three main themes in this story and you’re often not sure as the reader who you can trust. If you’re hoping for an answer as to why the hell this dystopian world put all these boys in a maze, you won’t find it in this book-you have to read on. The lack of answers can make you frustrated at times but it’s also part of what makes the books so exciting and the lack of background story can also be frustrating but again it’s part of what makes the book exciting. The slang the boys use is a little off putting at first but you do get used to it. There’s some hints of romance between Thomas and Teresa but it’s not the main part of the book which I liked, because sometimes romance can overpower the action but it definitely doesn’t here. The ending of the book is spectacular and really leaves you wanting to know what happens next.

Chuck, is a little boy who Thimas kind of takes under his wing and he’s kind of annoying but sweet and the part of the ending which concerns him was so heartbreaking. Minho, I loved so much because with his sarkiness, he kind of reminds me of myself and I liked the friendship between him and Thomas. I didn’t really see as many parallels with the Hunger Games as other people did, it’s a great book in it’s own right. I didn’t see any of the big twists coming. I love how Thomas is a hero just using his wits through the book as are the other boys. There’s a sense of helplessness as the boys struggle to find their way out of the maze but they never give up.
This book is incredible and definitely worth a read for fans of books like The Hunger Games.

My rating-4/5 (the only reason I didn’t give it 5 is because the books just keep getting better!)
The next book I will review is the sequel to this one The Scorch Trials.