Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Death Cure by James Dashner

Before the year is up (I’m giving myself a 2 month deadline), I will put up my top ten dystopias list. And really, The Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner will be high up on there. For the longest time it was the only book I even felt capable of putting on the same list as The Hunger Games. Now, it will most likely be warring with Divergent by Veronica Roth. But to the point, just know I am super impressed with this trilogy.
If you have not read the first one, The Maze Runner, you should. It’s fantastic. I have gotten kids to read it with this book talk:
- What would it be like to wake up in an elevator with absolutely no memories of anything? You don’t remember your family, your home, your life. All you have is a first name.
- And then what if the doors suddenly open to a large group of teen boys, who welcome you to a place called the Glade? They tell you that they all come in the same way, one boy a month, no one remembering anything. Some of them have been there for 2 years! They show you the Glade, which revolves around a gigantic, ever-changing maze –filled with dangerous, mechanical creatures whose purpose is to kill. They also tell you that they think the only way out of the Glade is to figure out the deadly maze.
- What if the next day an unconscious girl is found in the elevator with a note attached to her saying, she’s the last one. Ever.
- And to top it all off, what if the maze, the glade, the unconscious girl, the whole concept feels familiar to you? Do you tell anyone? Are you willing to risk your life to find a way out?
- To find out what Thomas does, read The Maze Runner by James Dashner.
The second book is only phase two for Thomas and his friends who did survive the maze and come out of it mostly alive. While book 1 was all about the mystery and the maze, book two was all about surviving the desert and outrunning zombies. And just when you think things cannot get any worse for Thomas, they do.
I really don’t want to ruin too much of this story because it is so much better to experience it all for yourself without me giving away entire plot lines. But, just know that book 3 does not disappoint in the action/suspense/zombie/saving the world themes. It starts with Thomas and his friends legitimately escaping WICKED headquarters. They’re all offered their memories back, but rebellious Thomas thinks it’s another trick. They escape (after a lot of violence, a possible zombie takeover, and half their friends leaving them behind) to Denver, a city slowly decaying to the disease known as the Flare (aka: what turns people into zombies).
Every moment of this book is about escaping one danger or another. Thomas has to lose more friends, really find out who he can trust, rescue hundreds of innocent people from WICKED, and then survive bombs, being shot, brain surgery, and so much more. And through the whole thing are those questions I’ve been noticing popping up in dystopias where the main character has to ask, “What am I willing to sacrifice in order to save a lot of people, possibly the world?  And is one life worth millions? Is hundreds of lives worth millions?”
Everything finally gets answered in this book. You learn about why the Flare spread like it did and where it came from. You learn a lot more about WICKED. You learn about Thomas’ childhood and how he actually became so involved in everything. And most of all, like with any dystopia and or zombie movie, you learn the best way for the lucky few to survive and keep going despite the odds of it all being against them.
There’s one super scary scene toward the end that reminded me of a scene in the book, Unwind by Neal Shusterman that used to give me nightmares. And there’s a lot of ethical discussions about how willing people are to be inhumane when it comes down to a cure being in reach or when overpopulation becomes a problem.
The one thing Dashner is no good at writing is romance. If this was about a girl, I know there would be more stuff about the sort of love triangle thing that was happening between Thomas, Brenda, and Teresa. But, Dashner sort of glides over all that tension with a few kisses on the cheek, and one actual kiss that didn’t even feel like it happened at the right time. Though, I’m not really complaining because I actually liked that this book focused on something else. And I like that this is a book that can really appeal to boys, and in particular reluctant reader boys. And a romance aspect would have ruined that. I also might recommend re-reading the other books first if it’s been a while for you. I had to look up certain characters online to remember them better.
But really, reading this whole series has been so much fun for me. Between the twists and turns, the crazy fight scenes, imaginative weapons, the zombies, the crazy scientists, the kid power, and the ethical dilemmas, this book was hard to put down. I give this book a 10/10. And I really think this a series any dystopia or even zombie fan would like (though the zombies don’t come till book 2).

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