Friday, 12 December 2014

The Kill Order by James Dashner (Maze Runner, #0.5) - Book Review

4/5 Stars

"I haven't had a perfect day since I turned sixteen," Trina said as she thumbed down the corner of her page and placed the book by her side. 

"Three days later and you and I were running for our lives through a tunnel that was hotter than the sun."

Edition: Kindle
Pages: 338
Chapters: 67 (Plus a prologue and an epilogue.)
Publisher: Chicken House

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


The Kill Order is our prequel, our window into The Maze Runner's world origins, and for the most part, it's pretty darn good. I was hesitant, I admit. After The Death Cure, and my mixed feelings, I was drained. Drained of my enthusiasm to read on, or read before. But with all things considered, I am so glad I did. The Kill Order, I was hoping, would be a prequel with revelations, and it's not. It's the story of how everything started, of the end of the world twice over. It is a pulse-pounding ride, filled with action and world building that successfully expands on the series' mythology in a way that makes me hope there will be more in this series in the future. I think, if I'm not mistaken, that there's another prequel being made that is a back story for The Gladers, so I'm hoping the author uses it to address the mountain of questions left from The Death Cure.

Now I don't really think there's going to be SPOILERS, but in retrospect, this being a prequel and all, it might ruin some plot threads in The Maze Runner for you. As a whole though, there's absolutely no reason you can't start with this entry to the series if you haven't started any of the other books.

Mark and Trina survived the end of the world, the sun-flares that decimated the earth and most of its population. They fought, and dodged death, struggled with the reality that had taken over, and now, they might be in for some peace.
They're wrong. (Of course!)
It's been over a year since the flares, and Mark, Trina and their group have found relative peace. But for them, peace will never be a part of their lives again.
A strange berg appears in the sky, a piece of technology from a long lost past. Everyone's shocked, their settlement gathers to stare, and before anyone can react, darts descend on the hapless populace.
No, no more peace.
The world is on the verge of ending again.
And Mark knows that, this time, they might not survive...

The plot to The Kill Order is exactly what you'll get from the back of the book. It's what The Maze Runner trilogy has been telling us, and every major detail is there. But in this expansion of the origins, it works fantastically. We move from the actiony-type dystopian feel we have through the earlier - or later depending on the way you're looking at chronology - books, and moves on to a sort of action-apocalypse feel. It works wonders for the story. The atmosphere, the virus, the way it's affecting people is incredibly creepy and extremely well done. It's probably the major reason why I gave the book 4/5 stars.
One thing that surprises me though is the switching tenses. We follow two plots. The major one, that takes place one year after the flares, and one where we follow Mark and Trina through their survival of the flares. Now, you'd expect if there were going to be two different tenses, that the present would be used for well, what we believe is the present, and that the past would be used for what comes before. But in a twist I at first wasn't sure of, they're reversed. The main story is told through the past tense, and the flares deadly destruction uses the present. I actually came to really like and respect it that way. Using the present, while describing the past - I'm really getting confused with myself - gives it importance, immediacy and danger. I mean, the flares are probably the most important part of the series' mythology, and it's evident.

The characters are alright. I like them, but I'm not in love with them. Mark and Trina are far too easily compared to Thomas and Teresa or Brenda. Although I love Alec, and the way he's written: Strong, compassionate and everything you'd want from a leader. Mark's development as our main character, in fact, the characters' development as a hole is a definite improvement from The Maze Runner trilogy, but I think that has more to do with the virus in their brains than anything else. But it is fantastic to watch them descend into madness.

The ending this time round, is also a good way to go. The sort of conclusive conclusion I like to see.

But can someone explain to me the Prologue and Epilogue? I know what they are, they just feel very out of place.

So yeah, you can definitely start from The Kill Order, and then make your way through The Maze Runner trilogy. I actually think I should have done that. The entire Maze Runner series is a good read, with some of the books being better than the others, but, taking it as a whole, a great series to dig into.

Next Instalment: The Maze Runner

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