The Kill Order

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
The Kill Order Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Action-packed prequel to popular Maze Runner trilogy.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 19 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The Kill Order will appeal to reluctant readers who prefer action-packed books. The story shows the value of cooperation when survival is at stake.

Positive Messages

There's a message here about the importance of family and community, especially during troubled times. There's also a message about the importance of knowing the truth: Mark and Alec fight not only to save their loved ones, but also to discover why their community -- and other communities like theirs -- have been poisoned.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mark is a loyal character who never forgets about the people he loves or stops fighting for them. He does fight and kill, but always with a greater sense of purpose.

Violence

Lots of battles as Mark tries 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 ("For a second, it felt like Christmas morning, watching a guy get crushed to death.") Other people die when they're stabbed, burned, and even shot by futuristic weapons that make them simply disappear.

Sex

Mark and his girlfriend hug, kiss, and spend the night together, but nothing more is ever described. She makes a joke, pretending that they were late returning to camp because they were having sex.

Language

A few uses of words like "damn," "bastard," "crap," "hell," etc.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Brief comparison between the crazy actions of the virus-infected and crank addicts ("Mark had known some druggies in his life, but those were the worst ... it was something you never came back from").

What 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.

Wondering if The Kill Order is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byContreras.ac February 29, 2016

Great book

I think that this book was great because to me it is like an experience of life if there was a zombie apocalypse or the world was ending. In the story it talks... Continue reading
Adult Written byf1racer January 19, 2019

Don't buy it!

Action so predictible!
Nothing spectacular!
Maze runner it was good, this is a waste of time!
Teen, 13 years old Written byLunarHobbitPhantom May 27, 2020

This really depends on the sensitivity of you/your child.

I absolutely love this book! I was a little disappointed that Thomas wasn't a character in it, but these characters are great too!
I can't really say... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byGlader A5 July 11, 2019

WAY better than I expected!

For some reason (I don't even know why) I thought the book wasn't going to be that good, but I read it and it was AMAZING!!! Definately read this if y... Continue reading

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 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. 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.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • 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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action more than reading

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate