I was given a free book. Well, more correctly, I was given book credit as an educator, and since I had observed several students reading The Maze Runner, I selected it. The premise sounded intriguing and I was looking for a good apocalyptic piece to read. I have since completed the entire series, including the prequel, The Kill Order. I will not give away any spoilers, but will attempt to give you a glimpse into the world of the Maze.
The Maze Runner is the first book, and starts out strong, though introducing characters at a fast pace. If you are like me, you may find yourself flipping back and forth a few times to make sure you have the right images in your head. Essentially, there is a secluded group of young men and boys trapped in a central area they call the Glade. They have limited memories and have established their own micro-society, complete with their own societal roles and terminology, including profanities. Each day, a small select group tries to find a way of escape through doors that open into an ever changing maze. The reasoning for the maze, the micro-society, and the tortures that they face are relatively unknown. This book focuses solely on escaping the maze and establishing character roles for future testing.
The Scorch Trials trends toward the more gruesome side of things, focusing on a disease known as the Flare and it's unknown cure. Following the direction of an apparent governmental oversight program known as WICKED, group members trudge through a scorched earth scenario while fighting off the disease ridden members of society known simply as Cranks. It has it's slow spots, for sure. It takes a while to develop additional characters, and some may not like the twist with the imagery of what the disease does to people. Having finished the series, I look back on this one as foundational to the series, but possibly the slowest.
The Death Cure brings things to a definite closure. For all of the character development in Scorch Trials, I felt the Death Cure made up for with the mental and physical aspects of the journey. If you know who to trust before it ends, you did better than me. I kept playing out a ton of scenarios, and I am not sure I had any one of them correct. It is full of adventure and peril, plot twists and anguish. More importantly, it has resolution and hope.
Enter The Kill Order. It opens and runs cover to cover with new and different characters from before the maze was established. It is a bit more of a thrill ride than the other books, and has plenty of gruesome details. You find out a bit more of the scorched earth details and the origins of the Flare. Some say they have put the pieces together about halfway through the book. I had some guesses, but you really do not find out the true connection until the epilogue material. The book stands alone to that degree. I am still glad that I chose to read it, though I thought there would be more connections. Maybe the imagination is a better transitional piece than the ink.
Connections to the movie: THE MAZE RUNNER
Up front, they are drastically different. There are character and plot differences throughout. Grievers (when you read or watch you will know) are not the same in the movie. Abilities, decisions, and key materials are all different. Even the basis of figuring of the maze, my favorite part of the book, is different in the movie. The book takes a more manual approach to society, whereas the movie trended toward digital means. The movie was good to me as well. My boys both watched it and had a million questions. Though I might let my preteen read the books, my elementary child is much too young for the imagery. I will have to wait and see on the movies. In fact, I do not know how they are going to connect the movies for the 2015 release date of the Scorch Trials. That is how different they are. It will be interesting. Just know, if you didn't like the movie, you may still love the book!