The Kill Order by James Dashner is a book that had been on my “To Read List” for just a brief time.  The book was just recently released and it is billed as a prequel to the books in the Maze Runner trilogy. The title caught my eye for some reason and I read about it and thought it sounded pretty good. I have not read the books in the trilogy which were published before this prequel.

The introduction to the book on its dust jacket flyleaf gives a quick idea as to the story: “The prequel to the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, The Kill Order is the story of the fall of civilization and the disease that started it all.”   Long story short, the book is set in the future, and there has been a massive sun flare storm which destroyed the world as we know it.  But some have survived and are fighting for their lives. Many are very sick from a strange disease which is spreading rapidly among the survivors in the eastern United States where the story is set. The disease is literally making people crazy.

The story revolves around a very small group of survivors and their battle to stay together, to battle the disease,and to stay alive. The novel is a quick read.  James Dashner is a master of ending a chapter in such a way that you just automatically go on to the next chapter.  The storyline is not a happy one.  Chaos, fighting, lunacy, and death are the main themes.  It really is not “my kind of book”.  I generally do not like to read fight scenes and the last half of this book is just fighting, fighting, and more fighting as the story’s main characters battle for their lives.  I really was getting frustrated with the story as I read, wondering how the heck the  author was going to leave me with any kind of good feeling at the end.  Not that every book has to have a good ending, but I really like to find some sort of redeeming value in the books I read.  I told myself that I would just finish the book and I would not have to read the others in the trilogy.

But, James Dashner ended this terrible ordeal in such a way that I “may” go on and read Maze Runner which would be the next book in the series.  I guess the story disturbs me in a sense but I kept reading.  I wanted to see what was going to happen.  And the book ends and you cannot help but wonder what happens next. And, to add to the intrigue, the book’s prologue features two characters who are never again mentioned in the story. You read the prologue and turn to what is the first chapter of the book which has a byline stating that it takes place thirteen years prior to what you have just read. So you read about two characters, then continue reading the book, set thirteen years earlier, and you never again read anything about those two who were in the prologue. James Dashner has a skill of leaving you wondering what is really going on.

It is strange. I did not like the events in the book, yet I am riveted by it and may read the others in the series. I do not really expect to find much joy in the story but am still captured by it.  The marketing of the book presents itself as being for the youth market. But the series has had crossover appeal to adults, too, and apparently appeals to the multitudes of readers who have loved The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.  My 10 year old son said he wanted to read the books in the Maze Runner series but I am glad I have read one of them.  I know that they are not for 10 year olds.  The story is too disturbing in my mind to recommend for readers that young.  Probably too disturbing for me, too, but I am captured!  Bad book, good book, disturbing story, captivating story. If you are looking for a happy, sweet story, do not start this book.  For James Dashner knows how to grab his audience.  And it is not a happy, sweet story. LOL

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being great, I give “The Kill Order” a 4.

The Kill Order

James Dashner

Delacorte Press

August 14, 2012

ISBN 9780385742887

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