The Kill Order, by James Dashner

In 1988, John Christopher wrote When The Tripods Came, a prequel to the Tripods series, his famous 1960s science fiction trilogy. Creepy and deeply weird, When The Tripods Came simultaneously established the post-apocalyptic world featured in the main series and worked as a standalone novel. James Dashner's novel The Kill Order attempts to create a similarly effective backstory for his bestselling Maze Runner books. Unfortunately, Dashner isn't even half the writer Christopher was, so the end result seems less like an actual story and more like a shameless attempt to milk more cash from his readers.

The Kill Order is set thirteen years before the events of The Maze Runner. Mark, a teenage survivor of the solar flares that killed most of humanity, lives in a ramshackle settlement in the Appalachian Mountains. His life has just begun to settle into a new rhythm when a group of mysterious fighters attack his village, infecting most of the inhabitants with a deadly virus. Mark, his girlfriend Trina, and his mentor, a former soldier named Alec, run for their lives, desperate to avoid the outbreak and figure out the reason behind the attack. As the group dashes from one life-threatening situation to another, the story frequently plunges into flashbacks from the time immediately after the solar flares, explaining how the same characters survived the crisis.

If you've ever read a sci-fi novel, a comic book, or, uh, pretty much anything with words, you'll be able to guess the “reasoning” behind the release of the virus. The Kill Order is not a complex story—there's killing, running, more killing, and fight scenes. The dialogue is painfully clunky, the characters are underdeveloped, and the action sequences are straight-up monotonous. (You wouldn't think a scene featuring a vaporized little kid could be boring, but you'd be wrong.) Longtime fans of the series may find something redeemable about this book, but I could not. Even the most hardcore lovers of dystopian fiction should save their hard-earned $9.99 and just re-read The Hunger Games instead.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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