The Coincidental Critic

Exploring the art of storytelling.

The Kill Order: The Unnecessary Prequel to The Maze Runner (SPOILERS)


I have finally finished James Dashner’s prequel to his Maze Runner series.

One aspect that I found interesting about this book was that we were finally able to experience the Flare first hand.  The main character suffered from the Flare along with all those around him.  I was able to understand how the victims felt and how their rage and insanity developed.  I was no longer an observer, but an experiencer.

I also liked how we were able to see what the sun flares did to the world.  We were able to experience the actual event.  Reading the Maze Runner series, I actually found that I was more interested in the sun flares incident than the virus because the sun flares ware what started it all.  Unfortunately, in the Maze Runner series, we didn’t get much information about the sun flares other than the severe thunderstorms.  At least in this book, I was able to understand a bit more about this worldwide disaster.  We were able to see the immediate effects along with the long-term effects.

I did like the main character of “The Kill Order” better than the main character of the rest of the series.  Unlike Thomas, Mark actually had a personality.  I found him more interesting, and while I would have liked to see him develop a bit more, at least he felt like a real person to me.  I could relate to him and enjoyed learning about him.  I almost wish that Mark was the main character throughout the whole series.

Unfortunately, similar to the other books in the series, Dashner made his female characters one-dimensional.  Half of the plot of “The Kill Order” dealt with Mark and Alec trying to save Trina, Lana, and Deedee (the women and children) from the clutches of the Cranks.  Stereotypically, the women were the damsels in distress who needed to be saved from the men because they weren’t able to escape themselves.  There was nothing unique about any of these female characters.  Deedee was a typical little girl.  She didn’t have a distinct personality to make her seem more authentic.  I didn’t learn one thing about Lana other than that she was close to Alec and was tough.  But this was all explained through summary.  Lana was never given dialogue or action to allow me to figure out her character myself.  Trina just seemed like the stereotypical girl that all teenage boys yearn for.  She was pretty and strong.  And she loved her man.  This was evidenced in the flashback that Mark had of him and Trina lying together once they had finally reached the mountains.  Trina mentioned how Mark was the center of her world and how he was responsible for her happiness.  That whole scene made me gag.  Trina was this one-dimensional being who would fall for any man who may save her life.  We never saw her actually fall in love with Mark.  Also, why did Trina kiss Mark at the end, especially if she didn’t remember him anymore?  It was the last thing she ever did in her life, and it just bothered me so much.  I would have rather had Trina done something heroic as her last deed.  And Trina didn’t even take part in Mark and Alec’s master plan.  Instead, she was just this extra body that Mark and Alec brought along with them.  Trina served no purpose in this story and only reiterated female stereotypes.

One disadvantage of writing a prequel is that the end result may already be known.  Because of this, the story becomes more focused on the journey the characters take rather than their final destination.  “The Kill Order” suffered because of this.  In “The Kill Order,” Mark’s super objective was to find a cure for the Flare and stop its spread; however, reading the Maze Runner series, we know that this is never achieved (not even at the end of “The Death Cure”).  So right off the bat, I knew that the characters were heading down a failed path of no resolution.  Because of this, I had difficulty getting through the book.  There was nothing pushing me forward like in the other three books of the series.  The characters were poorly developed and the plot itself paled in comparison to its sequel counterparts.  It wasn’t interesting and engaging enough to sustain the story.  Also, the story was rather dark.  We read about people in horrid conditions and mental states, and the fact that I knew there was no resolution made the atmosphere far more bleak than hopeful.

Dashner has a way of making interesting endings (interesting, as in his choice of ending).  Overall, I thought that the ending of “The Kill Order” was very rushed.  The beginning of the book was rather slow.  When Mark and the gang made their trek towards the Berg, it dragged on for a few days and chapters.  In contrast, the ending occurred suddenly.  In a matter of hours, the girls were saved, and then Deedee went through the Flat Trans while everyone else sacrificed their lives.  Just like the ending of “The Death Cure,” there wasn’t a big enough climax.  All of a sudden, there was all this build up and then it just ended.  I will say that I liked this ending better than the ending of “The Death Cure” because there was a definite climax; however, it would have been a lot better more drawn out.

When prequels are written, I always ask why.  Why did the writer choose to add a prequel to his story?  There needs to be a good reason, or else the prequel could severely hinder the series.  After reading “The Kill Order,” I assumed that Deedee was Teresa and that was why this whole story was told, but it was never explicitly explained.  If my assumptions are correct, however, why was Teresa made the focus of the prequel to the Maze Runner series?  Throughout the rest of the series, Teresa was a stereotypical female character who had no personality and was completely unrelatable.  She was also a character that I never understood.  At the end of “The Death Cure,” I didnt know if she really was good or not.  I would have preferred to have this story been told about Thomas.  And while that would affect some of his dreams and backstories, at least this book would be more important and relate back to the rest of the series.  Otherwise, Dashner could have easily gone without this prequel.  While it did provide us with additional information about the sun flares and the inception of the Flare, these details could have easily been explained throughout the rest of the series.  The series would have still been complete without “The Kill Order.”

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This entry was posted on August 13, 2014 by in Book and tagged , , , , , , .
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