The Kill Order is the prequel to the Maze Runner trilogy. It takes place before The Maze and before WICKED, but after the sun flares have hit the earth. It’s split between events that happen about a year after the sun flares and flashbacks that recall when the sun flares happened. I’ll tell you right now, before you get your hopes up, that this book has completely different characters than the trilogy. It doesn’t mention Thomas, the protagonist of the trilogy, until the epilogue.
Mark seems like an average teenage boy. Except for one thing — he lives in a village in a world that’s been decimated by horrifying sun flares. One morning, a Berg (a big aircraft) flies into their village, and strangers from the aircraft start shooting the villagers with huge darts. Everyone who’s hit with a dart falls unconscious and eventually gets violently ill. In the mass hysteria caused by the shooting, Mark and his friend Alec, who is a retired soldier, climb aboard the Berg just as it’s flying away. They make some discoveries there that shock them — they realize they have to hurry to save their friends, and themselves, from the terror that’s being unleashed.
Meanwhile, Mark has dreams about the year before, when the sun flares hit. He’d been riding the subtrans (that’s a fancy future word for subway, as far as I can tell) with his friend, Trina, when something happened above ground that caused major panic. Mark and Trina run around the subtrans tunnels, trying to figure out what to do, when they meet Alec and some others and band together for survival. The flashbacks don’t cover the entire time between the flares and the “present,” although I wish they had.
I really wanted to like this book. I liked the Maze Runner trilogy — the trilogy was, for the most part, full of suspense and cliffhangers that had me turning pages all night. The Kill Order, though, had very little of that for me. I thought the characters were flat stereotypes, and I didn’t feel for them at all. You know how writing teachers always say, “Show, don’t tell?” Well, there was a whole lot of telling in this book, and a lot of cliches — at first I thought Dashner was doing it to be funny or ironic, but now that I’ve finished the book, I don’t think so. The flashbacks were written in present tense, while the “current” chapters were written in past tense, which seemed backward to me and was very distracting. And while the action sequences — which make up most of the book — were probably the best-written part, it seemed like a lot of the same fighting, over and over again. I don’t really think a lot of important information was revealed in this book; yeah, the government’s evil and trying to kill a lot of people, but I’d guessed that by the end of the original trilogy.
I hope there will be another book to follow this one. I’d like to know more about Thomas, Theresa and the others from the trilogy, and it seems as if Dashner might have been setting that up in the epilogue. In the meantime, I don’t think this prequel is really essential reading, even for fans of The Maze Runner.
Rated: Moderate. For a few mild swear words, but mostly for a lot of blood and killing, plus some disturbing situations.