How to Fix: The Maze Runner Prequels

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The Maze Runner is a post-apocalyptic book series set after solar flares have destroyed the majority of Earth. To make matters worse, the remaining governments decided to unleash a fatal virus on what’s left of the flare ridden world, in order to control population growth. If you have seen the movie or read the book, then you will know that The Maze Runner has an enthralling plotline with captivating, if slightly unrealistic characters, that makes for a stimulating read.

However, recently James Dashner, the author of the series, released a prequel called The Kill Order, which was riddled with shallow characters, gory action scenes and a slightly disturbing story. Now that Dashner is threatening his readers with another prequel, this time named The Fever Code, it seems worth looking at how the series can get back on track.

1) Tone down the gore

Although The Kill Order is rated young adult, it features some fairly gory moments, including humans burning alive, the torturing of a main character and an unnerving portrayal of people slowly going insane. These graphically depicted scenes certainly turned my stomach. However, throughout The Maze Runner trilogy, the books have been getting more and more grisly, so I hold little hope that I will be able to read The Fever Code before bedtime.

2) While you’re at it, tone down the action as well.

Although it seems unlikely, it’s hard for a reader to comprehend a relentless succession of action scene after action scene, which is annoying what The Kill Order presents us with. Marc, the protagonist, takes us through a series of events where he is first fleeing, then on a rescue mission and finally, on a suicide mission. Throughout this ever changing plotline, Marc is under constant attack from crazy people and government agents alike. Consequently, the reader is never left with the time to reflect or to understand the characters more deeply, and many of the combat scenes are of little use to the actual plot.

3) Give the Characters More Depth

The character are hard to get to know in The Kill Order. Marc lives with a small group of friends who managed to survive the solar flare apocalypse. Once the virus has hit, the majority of this small group are dead within the first few chapters. Following this, a good deal more get captured, leaving just two main characters: Marc and an ex-army soldier named Alec. Alec, as far as I could tell, was just a catalyst for more action and death to sprout from. The amount of gore laden action and character deaths didn’t leave much space for character development. Also did I mentiont that Marc is slowly going insane throughout the entire book?

Overall, I was not convinced by this read. It holds promise: James Dashner’s writing is just as gripping as ever and his plot, although complicated, is exciting with twists and turns that lead to a dramatic, unexpected Dashner-style ending. However, there are some clear improvements needed before the next prequel appears on any of my book shelves.

The Fever Code is expected to be published sometime in 2016.

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I am a third-year computer scientist. As a lover of fantasy and massive bookworm, when not behind a screen I can be found with my nose in a YA novel or attempting to write something. I'm a tragic cook but a pretty keen coder. Can be found on Twitter @hannah_dadd .

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