The Death Cure (Maze Runner #3) by James Dashner

The Death Cure  ( Maze Runner #3)  by James Dashner

This is the final book in James Dashner’s Maze Runner trilogy. As with many trilogies in recent years, I have found the third book to be my least favorite. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. I did. I would definitely recommend it and I was desperate to know if there was any chance of survival for the main players, but much like the third Hunger Games book, it just didn’t have the same page-turning suspense as the earlier books.

The Death Cure continues to follow Thomas and his shrinking band of Gladers. In this final installment, WICKED is up to their same tricks, manipulating the emotions and actions of teenagers in a misguided attempt to save the world from the ever-spreading Flare.  This time the powers-that-be swear that the games are over, the trials have been completed and they are nearly done with the brain maps they insist will save the world. The problem is, Thomas and his gang have heard this story twice before. They are left to wonder if they should now fall into line and acquiesce to the final requests of WICKED or if they should make a run for it, hoping to be able to find a niche of their own in a world that is quickly crumbling.

In this final installment, Thomas is forced to confront the horrors of the Flare in the real world. While the world created for him by WICKED was a horrible one, filled with torture and death, it was all controlled. Once Thomas is allowed to witness what Earth has become, and the uncontrolled and uncontrollable consequences of the disease plaguing mankind, he realizes that things are worse than he ever imagined. While he has an enviable immunity to the virus, the same can’t be said of his entire group of boys. This realization and the choices he is forced to make because of it are devastating.

Thomas is forced to face some new realities in this last book, which help fill him out as a character. He has always been a leader, although not necessarily by choice, but suddenly we see his infallibility falling apart. In the previous books, even when a minor character or two are lost, the main group is able to stick together and persevere to face the next threat. The Death Cure puts an end to that predictability.

While this book wasn’t my favorite out of the trilogy, I was still thrilled to find out how this whole saga turned out for the Gladers I had come to root for as they faced trial after trial. James Dashner’s  The Death Cure, the third and final installment in The Maze Runner series earns:

 

 

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner

The Scorch Trials  ( Maze Runner #2)  by James Dashner

Not only am I a sucker for the dystopian literature genre, but combine that with a young adult series and you’ve got me hooked!  After reading the first of James Dashner’s newest series, The Maze Runner, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second.  The first book ends with nothing less than the epitome of a cliffhanger that leaves the reader clinging to the side of the mountain, scrambling and clambering to keep a hold on the ledge until book two shows up!  Well, book two showed up two days ago and I instantly morphed into a mountain goat, doing nothing but climb that rocky ledge as the story continued, forgoing both homework and housework to find out what lies around each turn of the page.

In this second book, Thomas is back, along with his allies from The Glade. Their rescue and relief at the end of the first novel is short-lived and they are soon placed in the middle of another experiment run by the shady group called WICKED. This time, rather than being in the confined and controlled spaces of a maze, the group is given a final destination, promised “safe haven” upon arrival at that point and told they have two weeks to get from point A to point B.

Of course, completing this task was not a mere matter of sticking out their thumbs and hitching a ride the one hundred miles, but rather a painful, and for some, deadly, trek across the burned wasteland left behind after sun flares destroyed everything on earth between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer.

Along the way, the motley assembly of adolescents faces obstacles that are unimaginable, even after what they went through in the Glade. But worse than the deformed humans suffering the ravages of the Flare (Cranks), the mind games that WICKED plays on the kids leaves them in a position where no one knows who to trust, no one knows who is working for the mystery agency or even which side is good and which is evil. More than once, messages are relayed saying the “WICKED is good.” But is it? Throughout the book, the basic tenants of their individual personalities, their beliefs and their friendships are suddenly called into question.

Like many series, the first book, The Maze Runner, sets a high bar, as it creates a new world, populated with interesting characters and unique situations. Subsequent books have to keep up the energy and excitement of the first, but at the same time somehow deepen the conflict and relationships within its pages.  In this trilogy, the follow up, The Scorch Trials, does an admirable job living up to the expectations.   I couldn’t stop turning pages, eager to find out what was to become of this group of hardy survivors and the manipulative government agency that controls them.  As I wait for the third and final installment in this trilogy, again clinging to the edge of the cliff I was tossed over by the end of book two, James Dashner’s The Scorch Trials earns:

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

A decade of teaching middle school has left me with a deep and abiding love of young adult novels. The YA genre has really gained steam over the last ten years, with much of that energy going into great literature that allows students, along with the novels’ protagonists, to explore the ups and downs of adolescence, to consider a variety of ethical and moral dilemmas and to hopefully expand their horizons in terms of culture and lifestyle.( At the same time, the genre has also opened the door to a ridiculous amount of vampire and werewolf novels, but I’ll take the spin-offs on each popular novel if it means kids are engaged and wanting to pick up books.)

The Maze Runner by James Dashner falls into one of my favorite YA categories- dystopian science-fiction. Ever since I picked up Ender’s Game years and years ago, I’ve been drawn to books that imagine a future world where life has been significantly altered through a series of catastrophic events. The Maze Runner is a great addition to a genre that includes The Giver, City of Ember and The Hunger Games.

Dashner’s novel starts out as the main character, Thomas, arrives in The Glade via an elevator from an unknown origin. Having only cursory memories of life before his appearance, Thomas is confused by his new whereabouts, but also somehow more comfortable with the transition than his predecessors.  His ease in this new home not only creates confusion on his own part, but leads to suspicion on the part of the boys already dwelling in The Glade.

The Glade is a large courtyard surrounded by high stone walls.  It isn’t long before, like any teenage boy, Thomas is questioning what lies beyond the boundaries of those walls. He quickly learns that a select group of Gladers venture into that unknown territory each day in an attempt to map the ever-changing maze patrolled by deadly Grievers.

No one seems to know why The Glade exists or whether an escape is possible, but prior to Thomas’ arrival, the Gladers could expect weekly shipments, via the elevator, of necessary goods and a monthly addition of a new boy. Thomas’ arrival changes all of this, as just one day after joining The Glade, another new member is added to the band of boys- a girl. She will turn everything the all-male society knows on its head and throw into motion changes that will alter everything they think they know about their home.

The Maze Runner is a captivating start to James Dashner’s trilogy. While the book initially gets off to a bit of a slow start as a foreign setting has to be introduced, the book was well-worth sticking out the long beginning and knowing that two more follow, the time devoted early on to setting will hopefully payoff throughout the two subsequent novels. There are moments in this book that harken back to Golding’s Lord of the Flies and the difficulties a band of teenage boys would face in forming their own society, but The Maze Runner heads in a whole new direction, taking the character most like Piggy and turning him into a hero and showing that order can be formed from an utterly puzzling starting point.

With a dystopian premise that I am so drawn to and the promise of two more books that I won’t be able to put down James Dashner’s The Maze Runner earns: