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The Maze Runner series by James Dashner

11 Mar

In honor of Teen Tech Week 2014, March 9-15 DIY @ Your Library, I’ve done a review of a techy series:

MazeRunnerThe Maze Runner (#1)

Thomas doesn’t remember…well, anything, except his own name and facts, like eggs come from chickens and so on. His memories of specific people or places or experiences are all wiped. He wakes up in a Box with a bunch of boys staring down at him. They are the Gladers, and their memories are all wiped too. They are trying to find their way outside of the Glade, a safe area in the place known as the Maze, but every night the doors connecting the Maze to the Glade close and the Maze walls shift and deadly things known as Grievers come out to kill anyone left outside. Once a month a boy comes in the Box to the Glade and must find the place he belongs in the Glade, all working to survive and find the way out. The most important part of this society are the Runners, who run the entirety of the Maze and map out the overnight changes. Thomas is just getting used to this way of life when something happens that changes everything for the Gladers. A girl arrives in the Box, and she has a message for them. She is the last.

9a2ac31b2fb21a0fc507f0fdcd0d8425The Scorch Trials (#2)

Thomas and about twenty of the Gladers have escaped the Maze, and they think they’re done with WICKED’s (World in Catastrophe – Killzone Experiment Department) trial. They’re rescued and confined for their safety from the Cranks, those who have contracted the Flare disease and their brains are slowly embracing insanity and death. However, when Teresa calls to Thomas for help in the middle of the night, he knows something isn’t right. The next morning a strange boy, Aris, is there in Teresa’s place, and their rescuers hang dead from the ceiling. It’s the beginning of a new trial, as explained to them by a WICKED scientist. After being transported, they must make their way through a Crank-ridden city into the mountains where they will find a safe zone and the cure, a cure necessary because they’ve all been given the Flare and their minds could break down at any time. Thomas already knows it won’t be easy, and to add to his confusion, Aris has come from another test Group, Group B, and Thomas has been marked for death at their hands. He’s determined to keep surviving, but this time it isn’t just a physical trial. His bond with Teresa, the one thing he has counted on, will also be tested and he just might find he has feelings for another girl.

the-death-cure-by-james-dashnerThe Death Cure (#3)

After his experiences in the Scorch, Thomas finds it hard to trust anyone but Newt, Minho, and for some reason, Brenda. WICKED has imprisoned him separately from his companions and kept him holed up for three weeks, not even letting him bathe. Thomas is fed up and angry, his former sympathies with WICKED have been decimated, and he is determined to work against them against all odds. In two arenas, the final battle wages. Thomas and his allies against WICKED, and the Flare against every person who is not an Immune. What if Thomas holds the key to stopping the Flare even if it will cost him his life? What will he choose? Can WICKED still save the world, or are Thomas and his friends in a desperate race to simply survive?

THE KILL ORDERThe Kill Order (#.5)

This is the prequel to The Maze Runner series, and, from what I gathered, doesn’t have much to do with Thomas and Teresa or anyone we recognize from the other books. The story picks up thirteen years before Teresa and Thomas are sent into the Maze with their memories wiped with teens Mark and Trina.

When the sun flares happened, Mark and his best friend Trina had been together when the flares hit, riding the NYC subway. While trying to escape the subway, they ran into a former military man, Alec, who promised them help if they would follow him to his partner, Lana. Alec and Lana lead them, and the rest of their teenage crew, Misty, Toad, and Darnell, to relative safety, now residing in the woods outside of Asheville in eastern North Carolina. Their horrors are far from over though, as a Berg swoops out of the sky one day, and suited people begin shooting darts into the small campsites of survivors. Always ones for action, Alec and Mark manage to take down the Berg and find that they were shooting darts filled with a deadly virus, later known as the Flarevirus. When the guys return from their mission, they find an insane Darnell and a host of the dead. Together, Mark, Trina, Alec, and Lana resolve to fight the chemical warfare and, in a chain reaction, become some of the first people to support the research of WICKED for the cure.

Note: Little to no sexual references. Much violence and psychological trauma.

Some readers have pointed out that this series has obvious holes in the background for the story. I disagree, in that we, reading as Thomas, have had our memories wiped. We are as new to the story as he is, and since he does not know things, therefore we do not know things. I will say there are answers that the series does not give us, but since we have a limited scope due to the main character’s point of view, this is realistic. One of the things I found the most frustrating were Thomas’s relationships with Teresa and Brenda. He seems to automatically identify with his male comrades, but constantly guess and question the women in his life. It was a hard thing to predict where that relationship was going to fall in light of all of his experiences. I did not like the abrupt change from the original three books to The Kill Order. I wanted some sort of chronological or genealogical link from Thomas and Teresa to Mark and Trina, one that does not exist. While I was glad to get a book that followed the events leading up to the original series, I found it was harder to connect with Mark and Trina when we’d already been attached to Thomas and Teresa. Still, this series is a very popular series, with a large fan-base like The Hunger Games and Divergent. The Maze Runner movie will be coming out September 2014. Scenes here!

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