Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review: James Dashner's The Kill Order

Summary: This prequel to the Maze Runner starts in a world already destroyed by Sun Flares. Mark and Trina are two teenagers who have survived the unthinkable: the destruction of Earth as we know it. However, just when societies are beginning to reform and people are starting to live again, their camp is attacked by a ship. They shoot darts at their community and leave. But Mark and his mentor, Alec, aren't quite so ready to let the attack go. They need to find out what's happening and why.

My Review: I liked The Kill Order better than the last two books of the Maze Runner series, but I don't think that I actually liked it over all. I ended up having to sticky note problem spots in the book for me because I was getting so annoyed. The middle section of the book is covered in orange sticky notes.

The beginning wasn't terrible. I mean, Dashner has a fixation on making boy/girl couples as the main focus of his novel and ignoring most other relationships, but I was willing to admit that that is pretty typical of YA novels and move on.

But the most annoying thing that Dashner does in my mind is say one thing and then show another. Like he says several times how smart Trina and Lana (the other female character at the beginning of the novel) are, but then when a fire breaks out in the forest, (of course when they've split into the two boys together on a mission and the two girls waiting back at camp) Mark and Alec freak out and are like we have to get back to the girls! Like the sticky note I wrote literally says "WTF James. They're not scared deer entranced by oncoming headlights. They're intelligent women. They're going to move away from the flames." DUH.

BUT THEN. It takes Mark and Alec 12 pages to reach this conclusion. LIKE WHAT. HOW. URGHHHHHHHHH.

Then when they're still supposedly freaking out about Trina and Lana and Deedee (the little girl they pick up out of nowhere) running away from the fire, Alec makes a joke about being "all man". It is so incredibly out of place and distasteful that I literally had to stop reading. There are other descriptive moments where Dashner will say "It was a woman." And it's so irrelevant to anything else. It's very frustrating. How much daily sexism can you put in a novel without someone asking you to stop? Did no one else see these moments when they were reading??

And frankly, let's talk about Mark and Trina's "relationship" for a minute. Mark says that they've been friends by circumstance. They lived next door to each other growing up, so it kind of just happened. But Mark has always had a crush on Trina (and it takes the world ending for her to notice him, how not cliched at all). But the entire book is about Mark trying to get back to wherever Trina is. And it isn't shown in a healthy way. There are huge codependency issues through out the novel. Mark mentions several times that without Trina he doesn't want to keep living. Which is the typical melodramatic statement found in these situations, but because Dashner doesn't really describe their relationship from both ends, it just comes across as really sad and scary. I don't particularly want to have my little brother read this and think it's the right way to approach life.

Also Dashner repeatedly references "talking like a soldier" but in very strange instances. For example, at one point, after being told that their situation is risky, Mark replies, "But they have our friends," and Alec (who is a veteran soldier) replies "Said like a true soldier." Whaaaaa?? Isn't that just said like a true friend?? How is that "like a soldier" at all?

I also have some questions about Dashner's story of the sun flares. Like I'm willing to suspend disbelief for a certain amount, but I at some point, I always end up questioning what's happening. In this book, it was when the Sun Flares came down and then within a few hours, the subway in Manhattan was flooding with hot water?? That makes no sense. And then everyone around them starts dying immediately? Water itself isn't detrimental to people.

I did like the end. I think that in a lot of ways the Flare is the more possible route of a zombie apocalypse. I really enjoy zombie apocalypse theories and when the action picks up at the end with people dying left and right, Dashner doesn't have as much plot to annoy me with. I guess. That's the only thing I can think of.

Overall, readable but not my next die-for series. I also wouldn't necessarily call it a prequel to The Maze Runner. Like they tie it in with about five pages of text total, but it certainly isn't presented that way throughout the book.

Have you read The Kill Order? Let me know what you think in the comments!

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