Rating: 8.9 out of 10.0
Author: James Dashner
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Review: You may note that usually I would include “About”, “Likes”, and “Dislikes” sections in this review, but as you saw with my last review, I am testing out different formats to use on this blog. Additionally, I have chosen to review this entire trilogy (not “The Kill Order” prequel book) in a single review. This is mostly because I did not want to waste time writing a review for each one when I could be spending that time reading the next book. Needless to say, as readability goes, these books are not only fairly easy to read and understand (there is some scientific material that can be difficult to understand at points), but also absolute page-turners.
Before I go any further I must put forth the disclaimer that in general (with some minor exceptions), I strongly dislike YA Fiction. Additionally, I do not enjoy dystopian literature in general. This book fitting into both categories, I was not anticipating enjoying this series. Yet, against all odds, I can now firmly say that it is one of my favorite trilogies (behind Lord of the Rings, of course). So, moving beyond my fan-girl response, let’s do a quick overview of what was great in this book and what was not-so-great.
Violence. Graphic, graphic, graphic violence described in full detail. I could swear Dashner has been shot and beaten to a pulp and electrocuted before, from the in-depth, realistic way in which he describes it. This is probably the greatest flaw in this book…at least at first glance. Now, for the most part I think that Dashner works to present violence as evil and repulsive; however, he also portrays it as necessary—a necessary evil. As the book progresses, things get hazy and everything gets muddled as both the main character Thomas and the reader try to sort out where evil ends and good begins. The lines between both fade and the two mesh into a grey area where right and wrong lose value in an effort to save humanity. This can be something that is not good to those who may not be able to discern for themselves what is right and wrong. However, it is a testimony of Dashner’s insane talent. By the third book, you will be right in there with Thomas—unsure who to trust, doubting every character. So with that information, decide if you (or your child, friend, spouse, etc.) has the discernment to know what is right and what is wrong. I personally, after reading it, think the pros outweigh the cons in this area. Also, as a final note on this particular topic, violence is something that—unfortunately—is essential to the plot.
Second, the language. The main characters develop their own sort of language within the English language, complete with their own swear words (unsurprisingly). The real-world equivalent of these words is typically obvious (some even rhyme with real swear words), but this is something never explicitly addressed. Additionally, some characters decide to use real curse words (which is so helpful, of course). They use these fairly sparingly, but they still are there. There’s really no pros to this one, except the ingenuity of Dashner’s “other language” that he creates in this book. Very good call, Mr. Dashner.
The characters are each outstanding. Not a one of them is bland or flat in any way. There is some kissing (and hugging) throughout all three books at varying moments, but it is not particularly inappropriate or anything like that. Not at all major or sexually suggestive.
Now we come to the plot. Oh. My. Word. I recommend Mr. Dashner for the new king of literature. Okay, but seriously, the plot in this book is beyond fabulous. The premise of the book leads into a fast-paced, well thought out plot that starts at a thousand miles per hour and never lets up on the gas pedal. Dashner raised the stakes at the perfect times, twisted the plot every which way, and somehow kept it going strong through all three books, without slowing for a second.
In conclusion, I do recommend this book series. Yes, it has its flaws. Yes, it does have things to watch out for, particularly for younger or immature readers. However, these things should not stop you from reading it. There is much to be thought about in the way of ethics, politics, and other “-ics”. This book series is truly a must-read. It will make you cry, laugh out loud, and if you are anything like me, you will not be able to put it down for even a moment.
Favorite Character: Minho
Suggested Age: 13+
Plot- 1.9 out of 2.0
Characters- 2.0 out of 2.0
Setting- 1.9 out of 2.0
Unfavorable content/other- 0.5 out of 1.0
Themes- 0.8 out of 1.0
Dialogue- 0.9 out of 1.0
Quality of writing 0.9 out of 1.0
= 8.9 out of 10.0