The Kill Order Book Review

The Kill Order by James Dashner
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
August 14, 2012

In this prequel to The Maze Runner series, Dashner gives his readers a glimpse into the world after the devastating sun flares, but before WICKED and the Flare.

Trina and Mark have managed to survive together, fleeing a ravaged New York City and settling in the mountains of North Carolina. However, surviving the sun flares may have been the least of their worries, when a ship flies over their make-shift village and introduces a disease to its inhabitants, one that quickly becomes airborne and causes the victim to lose their mind in the most terrible ways imaginable. Suspicious and searching for answers, Mark, Trina, and Alec and their friends make their way to an underground bunker. It soon becomes clear that the disease, now called the Flare, is out of control and infecting everyone, even them. Yet, there may be hope, as long as Mark can stay sane long enough to go through with their plans.

Set thirteen years before The Maze Runner trilogy, The Kill Order was roller coaster zombie adventure without the zombies. Watching the characters descend into madness was enlightening, but also frustrating, in a good way. Spolier Alert: If you have read the trilogy, you know that there is no cure for the Flare, so it was terrible to hear the characters speak of possible cures and know that there isn't one. This degradation of the mind offered a suspense that left me wondering until the end if they would be able to accomplish the impossible before the Flare ravaged their minds. This book is not lacking in action that is for sure.

The Kill Order offered a few answers, but left me with a lot more questions. Why use darts to distribute an illness that by all accounts was unstable to begin with? Who in their right mind, after millions of people all over the world have died, would think that the world needed more population control? Why is everyone they meet outside of their little group, so terrible?

This last question is a rather philosophical question, one that can be raised after reading a number of these dystopian sci-fi books. Typically, only the main characters are good and the majority of people, whether they be young or old, are liars, cheaters, murderers, manipulators, out for selfish gain, or cannibals...or all of those things rolled into one. What does this say about what we think of humanity? At the very least, what does this say about how these authors view humanity? Are we saying that only a select handful of "good people" will survive a disaster? Are good people somehow weak and unable to fend for themselves under terrible circumstances? Is this an American idea? I ask this last question because I have seen the footage and read the stories of those who survived the Japanese tsunami. There were so many people who helped others, led them to safety, even put their own lives on the line for others. More importantly, it wasn't a small handful. I have seen it with other disasters too. I find it hard to believe that in just a few short days, the world would be full of people who would kill you as soon as look at you. Sure, there are some people who do not handle emergency situations well, the sheeple as it were, but history has proven that good and bad people do manage to survive terrible conditions, and a lot of them manage to do it with their morals intact.

An action-packed prequel that is both well-written and maddening, and I do mean that literally and figuratively.