The Death Cure: Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Death Cure: Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
No sunny wrap-up to this very dark, mature series.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 34 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers can think about the idea of a dystopia and compare this world with other tales of scary future worlds. Also, Thomas and his friends are part of scientific tests, and there's much talk of "variables" and piecing together patterns in the brain to cure a disease. Readers can look up more about how scientists study human behavior in much less violent experiments than they find conducted in this series.

Positive Messages

This book shows how a government agency with too much power can lose sight of how to help the people they're supposed to serve. And how that breed of government can often lead to violent opposition.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Thomas continues to put his friends first as he has the whole series, enduring life-threatening situations to save them. He even considers sacrificing himself if he thinks it means saving more people -- and with the help of the people who have been horribly manipulating him at every turn. These "scientists" continue their quest for a disease cure by staging trials that kill their teen subjects.


There are two significant deaths of characters followed through the series. One is crushed by a building and the other succumbs to the Flare disease that causes madness and begs to be shot -- Thomas eventually shoots him. There are numerous fist fights; some intense electrocutions by specialized weapons; shooting deaths and a pinkie toe shot off; stabbings, broken glass and knife fights; and Thomas strangles someone to death. In a lawless city overrun by the diseased, people are "killing anything that moves" and there are hints of cannibalism. A van is surrounded by diseased and people are thrown from the car and shot. Numerous people are crushed when a building collapses, others are sliced at by government machines. Thomas is in solitary confinement for 5 weeks with no shower.


A couple kisses.


The teens have their own slang. Fake swear words such as "shuck," "shuckface," "shucked in the head," "slinthead," "klunk," and "shanks" replace the real thing. And you'll see "bloody," "hell," and "dammit" a few times, as well.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Sick people who can afford it shoot up a substance called "bliss" that slows down their brain significantly as well as the progression of the disease.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this final book in The Maze Runner Trilogy is just as dark as the other two. Adult "scientists" are still manipulating and killing teens and a whole city succumbs to a disease that causes madness, mass violence, and eventually cannibalism. The publisher still has this series marked for ages 12 and up, but it's more in line with other dystopian novels marketed to 14 and up. Fans of the series will be shaken by deaths of two important characters. One sadly begs to be shot when he gets the disease. Other violence is fairly constant and runs the gamut: shootings, stabbings, electrocutions, fist fights, and numerous people are crushed to death. The main character is forced to decide whether to sacrifice himself for what may be the greater good.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byJswurd June 12, 2016

The trilogy finishes with a dark and gory book

This is a pretty good book, but it is very gory. Zombies attack people, infect people, also many scenes of graphic descriptions of a zombie eating a person. Lo... Continue reading
Adult Written byFandomReviews January 31, 2015

It All Ends

This conclusion to the epic The Maze Runner trilogy does not fail to disappoint with fast moving action, desperate measures and heart-breaking truths.
You'... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bydashboard January 8, 2018
i have never cried over a book so much
Teen, 13 years old Written bymovieman25 November 23, 2017

Dark ending

There is lots of people at the end getting crushed by rocks and concrete. Author is very descriptive about blood oozing out between rocks. Mature tweens or tee...

What's the story?

After five weeks of solitary confinement at WICKED (the government agency) headquarters, Thomas needs a shower and some answers. They're willing to give him both if he's ready to get his memory back through an operation. But when he and some of his friends decide against getting their memories back it sets in motion an escape plan to Denver, one of the protected cities where the Flare disease is screened for and protected against constantly. All is not so safe in Denver, though. Looking for other escaped friends uncovers plots to take down WICKED -- about time, Thomas thinks -- and rumors of city officials becoming ill and spreading the disease. It's not long before lawlessness reigns and Thomas has to decide whom he's going to side with: the too-powerful government that still wants his help, the rebels who want to take them down, or his friends who just want out of government control for good.

Is it any good?

It shouldn't be surprising to series fans that THE DEATH CURE stays grim throughout. As answers surface, friends don't suddenly stop dying or getting manipulated by the government. The scientists keep being fanatical and nonsensically blood-thirsty and are just about always one step ahead. The world is still diseased and mad. The hopelessness gets downright oppressive after a while, even as the pace quickens toward an explosive finale.

What keeps this series from being more memorable is that oppressiveness. The dystopian world of Hunger Games has a rabid fan base because of the hope the memorable characters have of overcoming all obstacles. It's always pretty obvious in The Maze Runner that there are too many obstacles to overcome. If this was adult literature, sure, depress the heck out of readers. But this is YA fiction and even if teen readers are mature enough to handle it, they still deserve a little more optimism.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what a dark dystopian world this is. How is it different from other books you've read? Do you think the goals of the scientists will ever be met? Do you think Thomas made the right decision in the end?

  • Do you think all the violence in this book made sense for the story the author was trying to tell or was it too much?

  • If you were Thomas would you want your memory back? Why did he make the decision he did?

Book details

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