What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that violence and danger permeate The Kill Order, the action-packed prequel to the Maze Runner trilogy. There are lots of battles as protagonist Mark fights to survive both sun flares and a deadly virus. The virus kills many people quickly, but others become crazy and violent, swarming together in masses to kill Mark, his friends, and even a little girl who appears to be immune. After successfully defending himself from one attack, Mark admits that he enjoyed killing a man. Other people die when they're stabbed, burned, and even shot by futuristic weapons that make them simply disappear. Mark and his girlfriend hug, kiss, and spend the night together, but nothing more is described. The Kill Order will appeal to reluctant readers and any teens who love adventure.
What's the story?
What if sun flares hit the Earth, killing nearly everyone and leaving a few survivors in a ravaged world? And what if-- just as life begins returning -- a virus outbreak started picking off the remaining population? This is the terrible world that teenage Mark tries to stay alive in, along with a collection of new family members -- including his girlfriend and a little girl who appears to be immune to the virus. He works hard to protect them, even if that means attacking and killing those who try to do them harm. He also struggles to find out more about the soldiers who purposefully spread the deadly virus, which starts mutating to turn its newer victims crazy and violent. This prequel to the Maze Runner trilogy sets up the popular series about kids in a bizarre government experiment but features new characters and can be read as a stand-alone book.
Is it any good?
The characters in THE KILL ORDER may be a bit stereotypical -- Mark's entourage includes Alec, a grizzled old man with a heart of gold, and feisty, popular Trina, who only became Mark's girlfriend after "pretty much everyone else she'd ever known had died" -- but teens will certainly race their way through Mark's endless battles. The action makes the book a fast read and a great choice for reluctant readers, who will flinch along the way at some of the extreme material, like when Mark admits enjoying crushing a man to death.
Teens may lose sight of some of the bigger issues while they're reading this prequel, but when they finish, they'll be ready to discuss lots of thought-provoking questions, from the speculative (if you were in a life-or-death situation, what would you do to survive?) to the philosophical (is it ever right for a government to decide who gets a share of limited resources or who gets to survive?). Parents and teachers should consider reading along so they can launch these compelling and important conversations.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about what would happen if they had to try to survive a catastrophic world event like the sun flares described in The Kill Order. Would cooperation or competition be a better strategy? How would they decide what rules to live by?
Why are books like this one, which describe dark future worlds, so popular with teens right now? What about them is resonating with today's YA readers?
If you've read the Maze Runner trilogy, how does The Kill Order compare? Is it as good? What do you think about creating a prequel after a series has concluded? Is it a marketing ploy or a welcome addition?