Review of the Maze Runner Series, Plus Discussion of Author Behaviour

Posted February 24, 2018 in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

I recently finished reading The Kill Order, which is the prequel to James Dashner’s successful dystopian series which all started with The Maze Runner. I read the first three books last year but still haven’t gotten around to reviewing the 2nd and 3rd.  I’ve decided to combine my reviews into one post. I feel that most people know the series well by now anyway, so I see no point in going into too much detail.

An Important Note

I feel like it would be remiss of me not to mention the current allegations of sexual harassment aimed at James Dashner. This is deeply disappointing news, as I really enjoyed this series and read the books before hearing about the allegations. I felt torn about even posting these reviews because I don’t want to promote authors that disrespect women and I don’t want to send the message that this kind of behaviour is okay. It isn’t okay, whether you are an average person or a famous author.
However, these allegations are currently being investigated and I also don’t want to vilify Dashner until the evidence is clearer, though his response suggests that the accusations are probably not unfounded. It also brings up the question of whether we can still enjoy an author’s books even if we disagree with their behaviour or politics. I think we can, as long as the content of the book is not perpetrating negative stereotypes or bigoted ideology. But actively promoting their work seems to be an ethical grey area, and for that reason, I have not included affiliate purchase links within this post. 
What do you think about this situation? I’d be interested to hear your views.

The Maze Runner

You can find my review for The Maze Runner here. I really loved the exhilarating start to the series and gave it 4 stars. Here are my reviews for the rest of the series:

The Scorch Trials

3 star rating


Book cover for The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

“Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escaping meant he would get his life back. But no one knew what sort of a life they were going back to…

Burned and baked, the earth is a wasteland, its people driven mad by an infection known as the Flare.

Instead of freedom, Thomas must face another trial. He must cross the Scorch to once again save himself and his friends.”


As with The Maze Runner, I read this book after watching the movie, which I really enjoyed. The book differs from the film so much and in most ways, it was better. The film seems to jump very quickly between the gladers escaping from Wicked and meeting up with Brenda, but in the book they spend a long time trekking across the desert (the scorch), battling cranks and other terrifying things, which makes the title make a lot more sense. 

There was so much going on in this book, it was full of action and tension and I sped through it easily, eager to find out what happened to Thomas and his friends and possibly get some answers about the shady organisation known as Wicked. Some things were revealed but not yet fully explained so my curiosity kept me reading. 

I thought Brenda was a great character and I’m not a Theresa fan, so it really annoyed me that Thomas was constantly pining for Theresa even though he has this wonderful and fiercely loyal girl right in front of him. Brenda repeatedly risks everything for him and it was a shame for her that Thomas was still so hung up on Theresa. But I liked that she wasn’t portrayed as pathetic-she accepts the situation and just gets on with it. 

About midway through the book, we are introduced to a group of girl gladers whose story parallels that of the main group. This was a really interesting idea, but these characters were unfortunately never fully developed. I would have liked to have learned more about them.

There were lots of twists and turns in the plot and you end up not really knowing what to expect or which characters to trust. The ending was intense and left me hanging somewhat, so I had to start reading the next one straight away.


The Death Cure


4 star rating


Book cover for Tthe Death Cure by James Dashner

“The trials are over. WICKED is planning to restore the survivors’ memories and complete the final cure for the Flare.

But Thomas has already remembered more than they think. And he knows WICKED can’t be trusted.

The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine. Will anyone survive the Death Cure?”


I really enjoyed the finale to the series and liked it much better than the sequel. We finally get some answers about Wicked, the flare and how it could potentially be cured. For the first time, we see the other side of things and I actually started to sympathise a little with Wicked. I didn’t agree with their methods, which were undoubtedly evil, but in this book you can see just how hard they have tried to find a cure and how desperate they have become. They genuinely believe that sacrificing a few teenagers can be justified if it will ensure the long-term survival of humanity. I thought this was cleverly written and the ethical issues became much less black and white.

Like the first two books, The Death Cure is a fast-paced rollercoaster ride of emotions and the bond between each of the characters is continually tested. By this stage in the series I was really invested in the main characters, and some of the scenes were heartbreaking to read.  At the risk of giving away spoilers about the ending, I will simply say that the climax takes the story full circle and culminates in what is, ultimately, a satisfying conclusion to the series, even though there are still some mysteries left for the reader to ponder about.


The Kill Order

3 star rating


The Kill Order by James Dashner

“Sun flares have unleashed devastation on the earth. Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and against the odds they survived.

But now a violent and high contagious disease is spreading like wildfire. Worse still, it’s mutating, and people are going crazy. Mark and Trina will do anything to save their friends – if only they can avoid madness and stay alive…”


The Kill Order is a prequel to the series, set just after the sun flares caused devastation to the earth and it tells the story of how the flare was originally spread. It follows an entirely new set of characters: a teenage boy called Mark, his best friend/love interest Trina, a small group of friends who escaped the initial disaster with them and two older ex-army characters, Alec and Lana.  

It took me ages to read this book-I started sometime before Christmas and I kept reading a chapter or two in bed but accidentally falling asleep. To be fair, I am very busy nowadays and don’t have lots of time for reading anymore. But I couldn’t really get into the first half of the book at all. I think it was because I just wasn’t invested in the characters and at the beginning, I didn’t really care if they lived or died.  I subconsciously wanted to hear a reference to Thomas or Newt or Mino-any of the characters that I connected with from the rest of the series. Mark’s group of friends were largely forgettable to me, they just weren’t given enough page time for me to get to know them well enough.

Other than Mark, the only character I really liked was Alec, the gruff ‘old bear’ with badass survival instincts and a determination to protect Mark and his friends. He was a great character, and reminded me of someone I know in real life who is tough on the outside but very loyal and caring inside. He was a father-figure to Mark and their relationship was well portrayed.

About halfway through the book, the group is split up and the story follows Mark and Alec’s attempt to find their kidnapped friends and uncover what is really going on with the virus. I started to get interested in the story then and it got much more exciting and fast-paced. The scenes when they faced the zombie-like cranks were genuinely terrifying. 

I don’t want to give away any spoilers if you’ve not read the other books, but there weren’t really any huge reveals or any extra information to add to the explanations about the virus and Wicked in The Death Cure, so that was a bit disappointing. However, I really liked the ending; it was sad but also hopeful because the characters had a strong sense of purpose and wanted to do the right thing no matter what it cost them, which really resonated with me. 

Overall, I had mixed feelings about The Kill Order, as I only enjoyed about half of it. Most of the time I just wasn’t in the mood to read it, but I can’t say it was a bad book and the second half was really exciting. It fits well into the series, much like the film Rogue One fits into Star Wars-it gives you a little background and sets things up nicely for the books to come, but you obviously know the inevitable fate of most of the characters. I think that, in general, I just don’t like prequels as much as sequels.


Before You Go…

Have you read The Maze Runner series, if so, what did you think? Does the controversy surrounding James Dashner put you off buying these books? Let me know in the comments!

Tags: , ,


2 responses to “Review of the Maze Runner Series, Plus Discussion of Author Behaviour

  1. I did a whole discussion post not too long ago about whether we should or can separate books from their authors, just like what you asked. Tbh, I’m still not sure exactly how I feel, but a part of me does feel like the two are separate, as long as, like you said, the work itself isn’t promoting anything bad. But it is kind of a gray area. Anyway, I read this series some years ago, but I enjoyed it too. I definitely remember Scorch Trials being super intense and full of action and twists! And I also thought the series conclusion was satisfying, though I know many people had issues with it.

    • It’s certainly a tricky topic that I still have mixed feelings about too. Yeah, I felt the ending wrapped up nicely for me. I think it’s a great series overall.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.