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The Kill Order


The Kill Order

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't read the three books in James Dashner’s Maze Runner series, please do so before you read this review, which may very well give away plot points.

The story of Mark's struggle to survive begins 13 years before Thomas wakes up in a big box. Sun flares have nearly destroyed the Earth. The tale begins with Mark waking and shivering in the early dawn of his encampment in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. He does not yet know that this is a day that will change everything. He simply muses on the fact that being chilled is a sensation he hasn't felt in a very long time. His gruff ex-soldier friend Alec snores on the other cot in their shared hut. Mark was once intimidated by Alec, but has fought to survive alongside the older man for more than a year. In that time, they've formed a comfortable bond, which Mark demonstrates by tossing a shoe at him. Alec treats Mark with the usual tolerant good humor, which begins Mark's day in a pleasant manner. He's determined to add to his great mood by finding Trina, the love of his life.

"Avid adventure and post-apocalyptic thriller fans will devour THE KILL ORDER with pleasure, enjoying the nearly constant adrenaline rush of Mark conquering one challenge after another at a breathless pace."

Mark discovers Trina reading one of those old-fashioned paper books up by the stream. On his way to find her, he had passed some of the other survivors in their group. All of them, including himself, appear starved and filthy. Yet they are fortunate. They support each other, hunting for game and scavenging food in the ruins. Mark notices that all around him the forest shows promising signs of recovery. New trees are sprouting. Burnt old ones are starting to show green once again. They have survived the most horrific natural disaster ever --- but maybe life for the forest and for humans is once again on the upswing.

However, Mark soon discovers that their struggle to survive has only just begun when a Berg, a flying machine, rumbles through the sky above their heads. People on board the Berg begin shooting everyone with virus-laden darts; the afflicted will be terribly contagious with a disease that causes many sufferers to go insane. The first disaster was one nature wrought; this one appears to be brought on the Earth by humans. But why?

In a series of flashbacks, we discover that Mark was with Trina when the original disaster occurred. They are riding the subtrans that bullets through underground tunnels below New York City when the subway train loses power. After they leave the train, finding their way via emergency lights in the darkness, they climb to the station platform where they discover a nightmare of naked, burned bodies. They find themselves in a desperate life-or-death situation, cornered by dangerous men, before they meet Alec, who informs them of the sun flare situation and immediately establishes himself as their leader.

Now, after the mysterious shooters with their virus-laden darts have felled much of their survivor encampment, Mark and the others must discover how to stop this latest danger. Their journey will be treacherous and sometimes heart-breaking. It will often seem impossible for an ordinary teen like Mark to meet these challenges, but he has no choice.

Avid adventure and post-apocalyptic thriller fans will devour THE KILL ORDER with pleasure, enjoying the nearly constant adrenaline rush of Mark conquering one challenge after another at a breathless pace. Many readers of theMaze Runner trilogy will also embrace this book, which describes in further detail the happenings in the world before Thomas awakens in his mysterious box in THE MAZE RUNNER. Some may be a bit disappointed not to learn more about Thomas' life and may be puzzled by dots that are not quite connected (but appear to be hinted at) between this story and the series books, which may make them wonder if a sequel to this prequel (if that makes any sense) is in the works. Fingers crossed!

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on September 8, 2012

The Kill Order
by James Dashner