We’re big fans of James Dashner here at Lytherus. His Maze Runner series is tense, disturbing, thought-provoking, and overall excellent. So it was with excitement that I cracked the pages of The Kill Order, curious to see what exactly the prequel to this series would entail. A part of me initially hoped for a Thomas and Teresa story, but I think learning that wasn’t the case ahead of time allowed me to go into the book with more of an open mind. What I got was a wonderfully heart-wrenching, emotional story of love, loss, and hope.
It’s a year after the solar flares decimated the earth. There are survivors, doing their best to live some sort of quality life. Mark and Trina are two of them. Friends living in NYC when the flares struck, they now live in the Appalachian mountains in a shanty town of sorts with other survivors. When a Berg shows up, firing down not bullets but darts filled with a mysterious virus, a group of survivors set out to discover what is happening, why they are being attacked by such a horrible disease, and why so many people are dying. What they discover is bigger than they ever imagined, and they race against time — the spreading of the virus, and essentially what will be the end of their lives — to protect those left.
Prequels written after a series are sometimes hard, since you know what’s coming. I was curious to see how Dashner would create a story that was mysterious enough to captivate me and stand alone as its own strong writing. And I think that his choice of not taking us through Tomas and Teresa’s final days before the Glade helped a lot with that. New characters, scary new world, lots of unfamiliar things.
Thomas has lots of dreams flashing back to the moment everything went to hell. I loved being privy to this information. Dashner writing it this way allowed the reader to experience both major events that set up the Maze Runner trilogy (the sun flares, and the Flare spreading), and that made for a richer reading experience for me.
Seeing the Flare hitting characters around the leads, wondering if they’d get it (and what it would manifest like in Thomas’s head) was creepy. Knowing the dangers from the future and knowing they weren’t taking the needed precautions was hard. I very much had many ,”No, don’t go there! Don’t do that!” moments while reading this book. Needless to say, I became very emotionally involved. And perhaps this wasn’t the wisest thing on my part, knowing the essential outcome. The ending of this book was a serious tear-jerker for me. But that also shows the excellence of Dashner’s writing, sucking me into a hard place when I’m aware of how hard it will be and allowing for it anyway.
Am I glad I read this book? Definitely. Though it was emotional, which made it hard for me sometimes, it made me think for a few days afterwards. That is a sign of a good book: it doesn’t leave you. It’s a slightly different feel to the Maze Runner trilogy, but it works for what it’s about, and I think it’s a definite must-have read for fans of the series. It really will complete the story, and add a new dimension to the complex world Dashner created. Highly recommended.