The Kill Order by James Dashner
Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease. Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees. Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.
This is a prequel to the Maze Runner series and follows young Mark and his adventures after devastating solar flares have burned Earth. Mark meets Trina, Alec, and a small group of others who band together after the solar flares to protect themselves against riotous mobs, people driven mad, and those trying to use the situation to their advantage. Mark and his new friends have only recently become a small community when they are suddenly attacked by a flyby with darts that have an immediate effect on those hit – death. But for the survivors, the virus takes its time. And it mutates into something even more horrific and disturbing than the solar flares.
Being a prequel, there are mentions of familiar characters. But this story almost completely revolves around Mark and his fight for survival. There are occasional flashbacks while he sleeps to a time just after the solar flares that I sometimes confused with the “present” events in the narrative. But it helped to fill in the blanks of how he met each of his companions along the way. This is a dark and violent dystopian series, and this prequel is no exception. For those that have read the Maze Runner trilogy, it’s obvious there will be no real happy ending for a while. Yet there is a small sense of hope that keeps not only Mark going but the readers as well. Fast-paced and full of heart-pounding adventure and intrigue, The Kill Order is thrilling excitement from beginning to end.