Spellbinder Saturday: The Kill Order is the Last Word… or is it the First?

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

51riRZQCtRLThe prequel to the New York Times best‑selling Maze Runner series, The Kill Order is the story of the fall of civilization and the disease that started it all. James Dashner, a very human and funny man in person, has definitely got a warped sense of imagination. This final book of The Maze Runner series, touted as being a prequel, is surprising in that you don’t meet the characters from the trilogy itself until…well, let’s just say “practically forever.” And even then, you’re left guessing (rightly, unless you, too, have been touched by The Flare’s madness) until…well, you know…right at “forever.”

This is not Dystopian, as much as it is Apocalyptic: you almost fail to see, at the end, how anything of the Earth we all know (and some of us love) could possibly move forward. You will not find the answers in this volume. In almost every sense, it is a different, and unrelated story of the end of civilization, or even of humanity, as we know it. You are fooled, if you believe that there is anything more for human beings by the end of this tome. Or should that be “tomb”?

I was privileged to ask James at one of his signings whether I should read the “prequel” first, as its 315751c88da07a57290a2210_L__V192573004_events all happened prior to The Maze Runner trilogy. His take was that, no, it should be read after you know what it is a prequel to. And so I read the four in that order.

Many may feel they have all the information they want in the trilogy itself, and don’t “need” the prequel to “explain” anything else. Yet, that’s not what it is, that’s not it at all. It is a completely different, and still “satisfying” story on its own. If any of you have tired of dystopian, and think you’d like a little apocalyptic, this certainly fills the bill. To have read The Hunger Games trilogy, followed by the Divergent trilogy, shortly followed by the Dashner trilogy and its “prequel” has been intense, strange, interesting, and totally involving. But for me, next time…if there is a next time…I’d like to split up the multi‑volumed readings with a few others, of somewhat lighter fare, so that I can enjoy the occasional good night’s rest without obsessing over how rapidly the actual world seems to be descending to these depths.

The Kill Order is a much darker book than the other three — each of which, by the way, seems darker than its predecessor. It ends with a bleak and foreboding feel of The End. And yet, we know it goes on. That new characters are introduced. That new challenges must be faced. And, yes, there is a slight carry‑over from the “prequel” into book one of the trilogy. But if you’ve read the trilogy, and haven’t had enough of a world in despair, and ruin, and angst, and inhumanity, you may have the feeling that the “prequel” will only be able to offer backstory to events with which you are already familiar.

You will, mostly, be wrong in that presumption. With only one small caveat, you will meet all new people. They will be having different challenges than the trilogy, in a world created by the final volume, but with different, and all‑new apocalyptic adventures in store. It’s still worth reading, even if you have read the trilogy…as long as you’re ready for doom, gloom, and the ever fertile ground of James Dashner’s strange, disturbing, and always twisted imagination. Keep telling yourself that’s all it is: a great imagining of what the world could become, should we lose our vigilance, our nerve, our sense of cohesiveness, and…eventually…our minds.

Enjoy The Kill Order. If you can.

See you next time for Tips on Tuesday

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