Study Guide

The Kill Order

By James Dashner

The Kill Order Introduction

Before the Maze, before the Scorch, before WICKED—there was Mark: one of the original Cranks.

(Important Shmoop PSA: before you go any further, ask yourself: do the words "Scorch" or "Cranks" mean anything to you? If the answer is "No," stop right here. Go back and read the entire Maze Runner trilogy before you start this bad boy; this novel is the prequel.)

That's right, The Kill Order—James Dashner's fourth and final Maze Runner book—actually focuses on a man infected with the Flare. Sure, he doesn't go completely cuckoo—he's not, for example, worried about Rose taking his nose—but we get to see glimpses of pure insanity.

Once again: yup. Our protagonist goes nuts. We get to witness a man in the full grip of Flare looney-tunes madness.

But The Kill Order isn't just about wrapping up the loose ends left over from the harrowing three-part Maze Runner phenomenon. And it's not just about watching a dude spiraling into full-blown crazytown.

This novel is also just, quite simply, an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat thrillride of a book. It's about a few people who find themselves left over after sun-flares cook the surface of the earth. And, as if that weren't enough to totally harsh their collective mellow, the government unleashes a madness-causing death virus.

So what are our plucky heroes and heroines—from the grizzled Alec to the saintly Trina—supposed to do in this particularly nasty situation? Easy-peasy: they're supposed to rescue the one little girl who seems to be immune to this mind-chewing virus, get her to safety, and somehow destroy the roving hoards of lunatics who are hell-bent on their destruction.

Like we said: easy-peasy.

Is there fighting? Oh yes. Are there weapons that vaporize enemies? Yep. Are there horrors beyond belief? Yup. Is there a woman eating a cat for a snack? You bet. How about a dude running around with tighty-whiteys on his head? Yes… but that's played for laughs. (We think it's pretty terrifying, though: those undies hadn't been washed for weeks.)

And the best part is that our characters aren't superheroes—they're just regular people. These survivors could be any one of us, and they actually have to fight tooth and nail to survive. The action scenes are gritty, hyper-realistic, and super-charged; these guys aren't calloused action heroes, and they feel every blow and bullet keenly… and so do we.

So don't wait for actual sun-flares to hit our beautiful blue planet before picking up The Kill Order… although you really should devour the first three books of the Maze Runner saga before sinking your teeth into this one.

What is The Kill Order About and Why Should I Care?

Do you hate waiting for the next installment of your favorite nudity-and-violence-filled HBO show? Do you sometimes stall while reading a particularly good book… because you don't want it to end? Have you ever cried after completing a trilogy because you just wanted more?

Specifically: did you cry when you finished The Maze Runner saga because you wanted more?

Well, help is at hand. Help in the form of a particularly messed-up, twisted, insanity-filled bloodbath of a prequel: The Kill Order.

If you've been wondering where the Flare came from—how it first started to spread and how WICKED was formed—then The Kill Order is the right story for you. (And if you haven't, check your pulse. You might be dead.) Prequels serve a certain purpose in the literary and film worlds… and that's to give the audience the backstory they've been aching for.

There's a reason why we're getting the backstory after we've read the first three Maze Runner books. Those books were supposed to give us an itchy head (but not in a Flare sort of way). They're supposed to make us wonder. They're supposed to keep us up at night, pacing the halls of our house and howling at the moon, "Who created the Flare? What is Teresa's backstory? How did WICKED come to be? Why, James Dashner? Why?!"

Oh, is that last one just us?

But James Dashner must have heard our howling: he gave us The Kill Order. This novel is like a long drink of water after wandering in the desert. It's like a hot bath after cross-country skiing. It's like a cheeseburger after fourteen hours without food. And more than anything, it's like putting down the last piece of a long, entertaining, and totally absorbing puzzle.

You don't get more satisfying than the Kill Order.

The Kill Order Resources

Websites

Dashner's Instagram
Follow your author on Instagram.

Dashner's Facebook
Catch up will all your Maze Runner news on the Facebook page.

Fan Corner
Maze Runner swag galore!

Movie or TV Productions

The Kill Order Teaser Trailer
Check out this movie trailer posted by Random House Kids. It might not be the actual trailer, but it's still pretty sweet.

Articles and Interviews

Another Prequel?
Want to know what happened between the end of The Kill Order and the beginning of the Maze Runner series? You'll get your answers September 27, 2016. That's when James Dashner's second prequel, Fever Code, is set to be released.

Extra Extra, Read All About It!
Interview with Dashner regarding The Kill Order.

Images

Book Cover
The book cover is just as fiery as the book itself.

Deedee and Trina
Okay, this might be a bit creepy, but check out a cool depiction of Trina and Deedee.