The Kill Order by James Dashner | Rating: ★★★★☆
“Scared. That’s good. A fine soldier is always scared. Makes you normal. It’s how you respond to it that makes or breaks you.”
The Kill Order serves as a prequel to the bestselling The Maze Runner trilogy and it had a lot to live up to in my mind. Each of the books in the original trilogy fast became some of my favorite books released in recent years and I was a little skeptical on this prequel. As we all know, prequels can go one of two ways: good or bad.
And to be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what the prequel would contain when you come to realize that this takes place some odd years before our trilogy and introduces us to a whole world of new characters and the decline that took place during the first year or so after their world falls victim to either the sun flares that destroyed many and the disease that we came to know in the original trilogy.
As usual James Dashner paints a vivid picture of this troubled world that will leave you feeling oddly curious and also a little disturbed by the madness that follows these damaging times. We’re familiar with these tales and what happens to ones mind if they catch this deadly disease, and in The Kill Order we see, in flashes, how it all began. And it definitely isn’t pretty.
I’ll start with the pros of this prequel: it serves as a pretty solid backstory for one major character in TMR trilogy. We see how the world reacted to the danger of the sun flares and just how the disease came to be. The society within this story is quite cruel and what we learn about them and the disease, and what plans would eventually come to be, your skin will crawl. While that may not sound appealing, it is something that will fascinate fans of the trilogy.
Onto the cons: as much as I grew to love the characters we meet in The Kill Order (Mark, Trina, Alec, Lana, etc) and enjoyed the addition of a mysterious little girl towards the middle of the novel (re: Deedee, who’s identity is revealed towards the end) as well as witnessing different scenarios in which the mind reacts to the disease; I felt as though a lot was rushed and could have been detailed a little better.
We are greeted with characters right away but they’re hardly there and then they’re gone and the action all seemed rather crammed together last minute. Perhaps if it had been a longer novel, or a prequel series of three in which we could know them all a little better, it would have been much more enjoyable. It just didn’t feel as personal as the books in the trilogy and even though I did enjoy the novel, it felt lacking in many ways.
I wanted to know more in detail about the relationships between those who survived the sun flares; more on what caused them and what happened to Mark’s family. More on Mark and Trina’s relationship. More on Alec (what a strong character!) and his relationship with Lana. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of the smaller characters who seemed to come and go quickly: Darnell, Misty, The Toad, etc. I just felt like all their lives were used for nothing much but to die and it just bugged me, you know?
That being said: I admired each character who lasted until the ends strength. It’s a scary world they live in and they’re the sorts of people I’d want on my side in the end of the world. I loved that they made sure to get little Deedee somewhere safe by the novels end, in spite of the disease that was destroying them quickly. You see each character: Mark, Alec and Trina losing themselves in such a frightening way but they never let go of that hope to save this little girl they hardly knew.
And I thought it was lovely that Mark and Alec went through so much effort to find Lana, Trina and Deedee after they get separated. Really, the whole message of not leaving their friends behind was beautiful and it’s nice to see that even in a world that is quickly going mad that they still had enough of their wits to look out for each other.
Although I loved the ending in some ways, it felt like the rest of the novel. Rushed. I wanted something more of it and just didn’t feel like I got it. But with that being said, the novel itself was good. I’d recommend it to fans of the trilogy but I would also recommend not taking it too seriously like I did; you’ll find it much more enjoyable that way.