Rating: 5 out of 5
In an instant, sun flares wipe out much of the world's population. The survivors gather into settlements, surviving in a world of overwhelming heat and little of a future of normalcy. Mark has been living in this post-sun flare world for the last year, mourning the loss of his family and having nightmares about that tragic day. But it's not all bad. He and Trina, the girl he cares for more than anyone, live in a settlement with some people they've grown to love and rely on. But everything changes the day the Berg flies over their settlement. Masked people begin firing darts from the Berg. People begin dying from a terrible virus that attacks their brains. Mark, Trina, Alec, and Lana go on a search for the Berg's origin. They have to find out why a virus was unleashed and if it can be stopped. Along the way they encounter a girl who seems immune to the virus, and an unexpected battle for humanity's future begins. Can Mark and his friends stop the virus before it takes them away too? Will they be prepared for the answers they discover?
THE KILL ORDER by James Dashner is the prequel to his MAZE RUNNER TRILOGY, and it is a thrill ride from beginning to end. I've never read The Maze Runner trilogy, so I came in completely new to this story. If this prequel is any indication, I think I have to dive into the trilogy soon.
I've always been a fan of post-apocalyptic type stories, and I found the world transformed by solar flares to be intriguing. Mark and Trina were very likable characters, and I felt their relationship, a truly bright spot in the story, gave the story an emotional pull that helped carry the action forward. Mark is driven to protect her, to rescue her, to be with her, and though he's driven to take some regretful actions toward the end, he's the picture of someone who will stop at nothing to protect who he loves. Alec was another character I really enjoyed because he's both hero and father figure to Mark. Then there's the little girl Deedee. She's a mystery and clearly very important.
The virus affects the mind, and the story is a race to find answers and a way to reverse it before the characters lose their minds. The source of the virus was one of the biggest and most interesting reveals in the story, and as someone who hasn't read the original story, I'm very interested to see what the world is like after what this story sets up.
I loved the way Dashner ended each of the chapters, making me want to keep going to find out what happens. This story looks at the extremes of the human heart in the midst of incredible circumstances, the potential for horrific corruption and for great good. Dashner has created a brilliant story that I enjoyed all the way through. I have a feeling I'll be describing Dashner as one of my favorite authors in the future.
Review copy provided Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Photo Credit: Delacorte Press