The Kill Order
By James Dashner
Paperback, 343 pages
2012, Delacorte Press
The Kill Order is the prequel to the Maze Runner trilogy and it touches on the aftermath of the sun flares, and the beginning of the virus that became known as The Flare. Mark and Trina survived the deadly flares, but when their small community is attacked, a deadly virus breaks out and now the must survive that while searching for answers.
What I liked:
This book is short and easy to read. Unfortunately, those are the only merits I found.
What I didn’t like:
Once again Dashner prefers to tell, rather than show and unfortunately his prose was no fun to read. We’re introduced to new characters in this book, primarily two teens, Mark and Trina, and two adults, Lana and Alec. Sadly they were flat and I felt zero connection to any of them – they had no real outstanding qualities and I didn’t feel any sympathy for their plights. As you may know from reading my previous reviews of the Maze Runner trilogy, the first book was a blast for me, but as I delved deeper into Dashner’s world I became bored and confused. Honestly, the more I think about this series, the more questions arise and the more I begin to feel Dashner’s idea wasn’t fully developed. The prequel really puts the nail in the coffin for me and I can’t understand the hype this series has received.
I don’t want to rant about this book, but I’ll say that due to a lack of connection to any characters that were created in this book, character deaths were utterly meaningless. I’d say that most characters were killed for the “shock value” but anyone who has read the rest of the series will know that Dashner loves to kill characters, so I wasn’t even shocked. The actual event of the sun flares is hardly touched on – the events are only revealed when Mark sleeps, in a series of dreams that magically pick up exactly where they left off last time Mark woke (don’t get me started on that idea…). The connection that these characters have with each other is almost as non-existent to my connection with them – they simply escaped the city when the sun flares struck, and thus, they’re like a family now. There’s the overdone “innocent child in danger” trope – Deedee’s character was the least developed of them all – a lone girl found abandoned in a deserted village that the group must now risk their own lives to save because…well because she’s a child. She has little to no dialogue, often puts herself in dangerous situations and had virtually no purpose other than the “twist” at the end of the book. I found myself skimming several pages at a time only to realize I hadn’t missed a thing.
My biggest issue with this book overall is that it felt unnecessary. It didn’t answer a single question I had regarding the original trilogy, and what’s worse, the whole point of the book could easily be summed up in a page or two. Seriously, the virus known as The Flare could easily be explained in a few sentences, as well as why/how it came to be. That’s it. Done! It should have been an extra epilogue at the end of the last book, rather than the 343-page snore-fest I forced myself to read because I’d already invested in the previous three books.
I can’t say that I’d recommend this book to anyone – even if you’ve read the trilogy, you could easily look up a summary of The Kill Order online and save yourself the time. If you already own the book, might as well give it a shot, because it won’t take long to read. I still think that Dashner has a great idea, I just don’t think it was fully developed. My love for The Maze Runner is still strong, as I fully enjoyed that book and had a blast reading it – I look forward to seeing the movie as well. But the rest of the series was a major flop for me, each book more disappointing than the last.