This prequel to Dashner's dystopian Maze Runner trilogy, set 13 years before those books,focuses on a new character—Mark—who lives through the "sun flares" that decimate Earth. He creates a new family with other survivors, including Alec, a tough old soldier, and Trina, his love interest. But then strangers arrive on an airship and infect villagers with a mysterious virus, which quickly spreads and mutates. Maze Runner fans may be surprised by the new protagonist, but they will be swept up in the breathless, cinematic action. Whether Mark is flashing back to his escape from the sun flares, stealing an airship with Alec, or battling hordes of virus-infected maniacs, Dashner's adventure is filled with near-constant melees and peril (some readers might want to trade some fight scenes for more narrative and character development). Even so, Dashner has crafted a clever prequel that will appeal to fans anxious to see where The Maze Runner came from, while enticing those unfamiliar with the later books. Ages 12–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Aug.)
VOYA - Mark Flowers
Thirteen years before the events of The Maze Runner (Delacorte, 2009/Voya December 2009) and only a year after sun flares have caused a global environmental catastrophe, a small group of survivors, led by an ex-soldier named Alec and a teenager named Mark, is just beginning to put their lives back together when they are attacked by a strangely well-equipped force calling themselves the PFC, and shot with a mysterious serum. In their attempt to discover the reason for the attack, Mark and Alec soon learn that their friends have been injected with a deadly virus dubbed “The Flare.” Meanwhile, two members of Mark and Alec’s group, and a young girl who appears to be immune to The Flare, are kidnapped by the PFC. Most of the novel is taken up by countless action sequences (set off by cringe-inducing dialogue) as Mark and Alec fight off the PFC, save their friends, and learn the reason The Flare has been released, a reason as incoherent as it is obvious even to readers who have not read The Death Cure (Delacorte, 2011/Voya December 2011). What makes this novel so infuriating is that interwoven within this main plot are far-too-brief flashbacks to the much more interesting story of the first days of the sun flares. This plot by itself would have made a far more promising novel. Instead we are left with a prequel that only die-hard fans of the Maze Runner trilogy will love. Ages 12 to 18.
A prequel to the series that began with The Maze Runner (2009) takes readers back to the moment when the sun flares devastate the Earth and tells the story of the birth of the killer virus that followed. Mark and Trina were riding the New York City subtrans system when the flares originally struck. Glad to have each other, they were very lucky to meet up with Alec and Lana, both ex-military and equipped with plenty of survival skills. It has taken them a year to get to relative safety in the Appalachian Mountains and to establish a settlement with other survivors. Life is beginning to resemble "normal," when they are once again attacked from the sky, this time by soldiers. The situation worsens when survivors begin to sicken and die, but not before going mad. The small group makes its way back out into the forest, hunting for their attackers and looking for answers. It's only a matter of time before one of them, infected, goes insane….Blending past, present and future, this is a gritty and unnerving look at a post-apocalyptic world that both recalls early classics of the genre and looks forward to Dashner's already-established trilogy. For fans of the original books and of the genre as a whole, a must read. (Science fiction/thriller 12 & up)
Set in the pre-WICKED world, this standalone prequel to the Maze Runner dystopian trilogy describes the fall of mankind .That dramatic story gives an added depth and drama to the conflicts and trials that lay ahead. A prequel to a reader favorite series; now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.
From the Publisher
Praise for the Maze Runner series:
A #1 New York Times Bestselling Series
A USA Today Bestseller
A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year
An ALA-YASLA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book
An ALA-YALSA Quick Pick
"[A] mysterious survival saga that passionate fans describe as a fusion of Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, and Lost."—EW.com
“Wonderful action writing—fast-paced…but smart and well observed.”—Newsday
“[A] nail-biting must-read.”—Seventeen.com
“Breathless, cinematic action.”—Publishers Weekly
“Heart pounding to the very last moment.”—Kirkus Reviews
[STAR] “James Dashner’s illuminating prequel [The Kill Order] will thrill fans of this Maze Runner [series] and prove just as exciting for readers new to the series.”—Shelf Awareness, Starred
"Take a deep breath before you start any James Dashner book."-Deseret News
From the Hardcover edition.
Children's Literature - Kasey Giard
With memories of the sun flares that destroyed major cities and much of the world's technology still fresh in their minds, Mark, Trina and their friends find themselves face to face with another catastrophe, and this one may not leave any alive. The plague's first victims survive mere hours. But as the disease mutates and spreads, its victims survive longer, becoming mad long before the end takes them. Mark and Trina band together, determined to stay well, track down the source of the vicious illness, and do whatever it takes to stop it. In this prequel to the "Maze Runner" series, Dashner reveals the story of civilization's fall and the mysterious disease that ravaged mankind in its wake. While providing answers to many of the questions "Maze Runner" fans have been asking, The Kill Order lacked the density of thrill and suspense that have rocketed readers through the bestselling series. Reviewer: Kasey Giard
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—In his short life, Mark has seen sun flares that killed millions, including his family and beloved younger sister. Afterward, floods, food shortages, and continued devastating heat, along with individuals bent on surviving at all costs, have made his chances pretty bleak. Against all odds, he and a close-knit group of other survivors move inland and set up a community together. But before long, a flying ship brings something wholly unfamiliar: a disease, transmitted initially by darts, but soon spread person to person at an alarming rate. Mark's friends all work together to figure out what this illness is, how it spreads, and why it drives people mad, while trying to hold onto hope for themselves and save others. A prequel to the "Maze Runner" series (Delacorte), this story does indeed show how the world started to fall apart prior to Thomas's time in the Maze. However, Thomas's and Teresa's stories are contained to the prologue and epilogue, so readers hoping for information about how WICKED began will be disappointed. Dashner achieves a high level of emotional involvement for readers in this prequel. Mark knew and loved his family, which makes him a more relatable character than memory-challenged Thomas. The action is nonstop, although a little unrealistic at times, and Mark seems wise beyond his years. This novel works well as a stand-alone.—Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ