Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Death Cure - James Dashner

The Death Cure
I hope you've enjoyed this little series of posts. It's not very often I review a whole series in the space of a few weeks. Granted, I held out of you all for months. I mean, I finished this book in May. 

Still, at that point, I had barely heard of The Maze Runner. I knew you would all be more interested if I released these posts in conjunction with the movie release. Hopefully I was right! I will say, the movie has gotten a lot less press than I was anticipating. I suppose it's been overshadowed by the much-anticipated Mockingjay: Part 1.

Kevin is reading this, book three in the series, right now. He claimed the other night that it was better than Suzanne Collins's third installation and I about kicked him out of bed. I certainly think James Dashner did a better job with his trilogy conclusion than Veronica Roth did with hers, but still. I have plans to reread Mockingjay before the movie comes out and do a revision post. My opinion of the book has grown a lot since I last read it in the early days of the blog.

Ok, getting off topic. Back to the horrible world where Thomas and friends are being chased around by both Cranks and the morally mysterious WICKED.

To start off, let me say that I enjoyed this third book more than I did The Scorch Trials. Kevin respectfully disagrees with me, but that's because he's all about action. I'm all about good plot and good characters. Book two got a little murky and, as you read last week, I felt it lacked character development. Book three clears up some of the unnecessary complexity (some, not all) and quickly eliminates some superfluous characters.

I think trimming down his cast helped Dashner focus on a few main characters rather than maintaining and justifying a dozen or more. I was quite pleased when the whole Brenda vs. Teresa thing got resolved. And, I mean, wow did it get resolved. No chance for Thomas to change his mind there.

I very much enjoyed seeing the rest of this dystopian world as well. Some series in this genre get stuck in one location and we never get an explanation or description of what's happening to everyone else. Of course, Suzanne Collins largely addresses this issue through the Victor Tour in Catching Fire and the introduction of District 13 in Mockingjay. Here, the motley crew flies about and witnesses the chaos of humanity first hand.

Kevin and I had an interesting discussion last night about whether or not Thomas should have shot his friend who became a Crank after he asked him to do just that. To those of you who haven't read the book, it's just the classic "do-you-kill-a-zombie" scenario with a new name. As Dashner says, there is nothing about the situation that is black and white. I appreciate the moral complexity he brought to that relationship and decision.

Of course, I must say a few things about the ending. With the close of a trilogy, a solid ending is, to me, one of the most important things. You don't want to stay with these characters and invest in them for three (or more) books only to be upset at their fate. In this case, I struggled a bit with the decision making that Dashner presented. Why in the world did Thomas trust Gain? Everything about that choice seemed so risky to me. How did they group know she was really good and directing them somewhere good after everyone else had lied to them throughout the entire process. Also, once they did go through the flat trans, where in the world were they? I found it a stretch to believe there was anywhere left on Earth that was inaccessible to Cranks and still free of pollution. Dashner made such a point in the books of expressing the devastation of the world. It seems too easy to have there suddenly be this magic location where they are safe and can live out their days in peace.

I did appreciate, though, that Dashner did not give his characters a happily ever after. Sure, they escaped and had a new place to make a home, but they "carry the sorrow of their loss for the rest of their lives." To me, this reality for Minho and Thomas was very Katniss-like (again with The Hunger Games references - quit it, Alise!). I find things much more believable when characters who have been through this type of drama have to deal with the consequences of it forever. They don't really get to walk away to a safe place because their very mind isn't safe.

Ultimately, I found this series creative and action-packed. I think it had the potential to be much better if Dashner had played more to an adult audience, rather than a teenage one, but you can't fault a man for knowing who the most lucrative audience is. Still, had he woven in some of the character development and more adult complexities that Hugh Howey did in the Silo series, I think the Maze Runner series could have been truly excellent. Still, it's much better than some of its genre compatriots.

Pages: 325
Date Completed: May 18, 2014

Have you read The Maze Runner series? What were your thoughts? Did you like the ending? Where do you think it ranks among other series in the dystopian genre?

No comments:

Post a Comment