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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*The Kill Order (Maze Runner Prequel)* by James Dashner- young adult book review
Also by James Dashner:

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 1)

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 2)

The Death Cure (Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 3)

The Kill Order (Maze Runner Prequel)
by James Dashner
Ages 12+ 336 pages Delacorte August 2012 Hardcover    

After reading James Dashner’s Maze Runner trilogy, many questions remain. What happened before the maze? Where did the flare come from? How could the world end up in such chaos?

The Kill Order answers many of these questions in an action-packed book which tells not only the story of the sun flares but also the terrible disease that followed. It is the story of a young man named Mark, and an older soldier, Alec.

Trying to survive after the sun flares, the two men and their companions, Lana and Trina, enter a settlement. Suddenly, a hovering ship (known as a Berg) comes down, and two men in protective suits come out shooting arrows at all the people. Some are killed instantly, other linger.

From this point on, mere survival is the primary goal. Many people are infected with a disease which affects their minds, resulting in horrible, crazy, uncontrolled behavior. Moving from place to place, just trying to endure, the group meets an abandoned four-year-old girl, Dee-Dee, who seems to be the only one unaffected by the disease, despite the fact that she had been shot by one of the arrows.

Taking the girl into their care, they continue, trying to find a safe place to live. Eventually, Alec and Mark are separated from the women, steal one of the Bergs and are able to travel. Their goal changes from survival to reunion with the women.

Around every corner, dangerous, violent crazy people, attack Alec and Mark. It seems that the whole world is infected, and people are developing extreme ideas about how to escape the disease. Food is scarce, technology is dying and the disease is mutating.

Mark and Alec find a horrible weapon which turns people immediately to ash. Apparently, they have no choice but to use the weapon kill the insane people in an effort to protect them and save the women and Dee-Dee. Their lives are a moment-to-moment struggle. When Mark sleeps, he dreams of the time when the sun flares first devastated the earth. The memories are painful—this was the time when he lost his family—but bittersweet because at least he was with Trina.

The Kill Order is weaker in plot than the other books in the series, relying more on violence than character development to keep the reader’s attention. The weapons technology is frightening, as it dehumanizes the killing process. The mental and physical suffering of the people with the disease and the atrocious things that they do is extreme. The rationale behind the people in the Bergs, the government who is desperately trying to save the human race, is questionable.

The revelation of the kill order at the end of the book answers many questions, but leaves others unanswered. Perhaps a second book will go into more depth about the motives of the people who created the maze and tell the story of Thomas before he got there.

For readers who loved the Maze Runner series or who enjoy books with lots and lots of action, The Kill Order is just the ticket.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Kristine Wildner/2012 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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