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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Blog Tour: The Kill Order by James Dashner (Review + Giveaway)

Young Adult, Dystopia, Thriller, Adventure
Publication.Date  August 14th 2012
Published By:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers
AuthorJames Dashner

The Kill Order on Goodreads
My review copy:Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

The prequel to the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series.

Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.

Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.


Let's get this started, people. It won't be long before we all lose our minds.
Oh, I'm good. Seriously, after all these years, you'd think I would stop amazing myself. But here I am, still doing it.
I love the sound of it," Trina whispers, as if speaking too loudly might interrupt the drumming patter of the rain outside. "It makes me want to sleep. Snuggle my head right up in your armpit and snore for three days."

"My armpit?" Mark repeats. "Good thing we all showered up in the storm this morning. My pits smell like roses. Go ahead and get comfy.
Come on," Alec said, already stomping down the ramp. "Let's find us a squirrel." He swept the weapon back and forth as he walked, looking for any interlopers. "Or better yet, one of the crazies who might've strayed over here. Too bad these things have to be charged or we could get rid of this virus problem in a jiffy. Sweep these old neighborhoods nice and clean."

Mark joined him on the ground below the Berg, wary that someone might be watching from the ruined homes surrounding them or from the burnt woods beyond those. "Your value of human life brings tears to my eyes," he muttered.

"Already dressed in the requisite shorts-and-T-shirt uniform of the Glade, he looked like a snapshot of the past - some ordinary boy taking an ordinary nap after a long day at an ordinary school, before sun flares and disease made the world anything but ordinary. Before death and destruction made it necessary to steal children - along with their memories - and send them to a place as terrifying as the Maze. Before human brains were known as the killzone and needed to be watched and studied. All in the name of science and medicine. "

     The Kill Order by the insanely talented James Dashner is the prequel to his hit series, The Maze Runner and boy, what a prequel it is! The story takes place thirteen years before the events of The Maze Runner trilogy, before WICKED was created and the Glade was built. We are introduced to new characters, including Mark, Trina, Alec (a retired soldier) and a group of teenagers who survived the Sun Flares and are now trying to cope with their new reality, battling a deadly disease that threatens to destroy the entire world's population. 

     The world is ravaged by heat. The tempratures are unbearably high. The earth is scorched. Half the world had been wiped out when the sun flares hit the earth, only a small group of lucky survivors managed to escape the cities, hoping to find a safe place to live.

     When we meet the characters, they are living in a hut high up in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. They're crowded together, malnutritioned and sick of the never-ending heat, but they're surviving. They managed to scavenge some food and set up a camp, and they are hoping the Earth will eventually get back to normal. But then a new danger materializes itself. A flying ship arrives at their location and it brings something even worse than the hunger and the heat - it brings a new, deadly disease that drives people mad. Now, Mark and his friends have even more to worry about. They have to figure out where this ilness comes from, how it gets transmitted and - most importantly - how to avoid getting infected. 

     The Kill Order is one helluva a crazy ride! You'll be completely blown-away by the insane pace at which things progress, the intense action sequences, the suspense and the disturbing, vivid vision painted by Dashner. The writing was supreme, probably even better than what we were served in the Maze Runner series, more mature and detailed, and definitely more emotionally affecting. The atmosphere - hot and electrifying (and not only because of the parched earth being the backdrop). One thing for sure, James Dashner does not hold back in this book. There are scenes of violence that some will love, while others will shy away from, but personally, I enjoyed the grittiness and honesty of this book. The fights were all described in detail, often pretty gore, but they also served a purpose - they were there to show just how bad things were before the creation of the Maze, how terrifying and deadly the world has become. So, while I saw people complaining about the "unnecessary violence" in The Kill Order, I believe it was justified and essential to the plot. 

     I had so much fun getting to know all the new characters. The dialogues were loaded with tension, sparkling with chemistry and simply very entertaining to read - particularly the friendly banter between Mark and Alec! Both Alec and Trina were very likeable and I immediately connected with them. I loved that Trina was such a big reader, always with her nose stuck in a book, it made it easy for me to relate to her character and root for her. For whatever reason, I grew more attached to the characters in The Kill Order, than I ever did to those from The Maze Runner trilogy. Perhaps that's because the characters in The Maze Runner did not have a past to share with us, their memories were wiped out and they had no back story that would remind us that these were just kids taken away from their homes, their families. In The Kill Order, we get a much better idea of the emotional impact the Sun Flares and, later on, the disease had on people, how they affected entire families, ruined lives, brought about pain and suffering of both physical and emotional kind. I definitely loved that about this book. 

     As much as I loved the Maze Runner trilogy, I have to say that I loved The Kill Order even more. I missed the characters I got to know and grew to love and care about in the Maze Runner trilogy, sure, but the prequel was somehow even more exciting, intense and captivating. Maybe because I already knew what will happen later, maybe because I was finally getting the answers I've been dying for while reading The Maze Runner, or maybe simply because it was just so great to get a sneak-peak into the past, see how it all started and just spend a little bit more time in the disturbing yet completely fascinating and mind-blowing world that James Dashner created. I guess my only complaint would be that I still don't know much about how WICKED started. I was hoping The Kill Order would bring some answers, but other than the two brief glimpses at Thomas and Teresa before Thomas' time in the maze (in the prologue and epilogue), there wasn't anything else there. Perhaps a short story or an e-novella would be in order now, dear Mr. Dashner?

The Characters of The Kill Order

Since we are celebrating the release of the prequel in paperback, I thought I'd take a few minutes and give some background to the major characters of the book. It was a huge risk having all new characters for the prequel, but in the end I was very proud of the story and how it came out. I feel almost as close to these poor folks as I do those from The Maze Runner. Although I wish I could've included an evil clone of Minho.

So, here we go:

Mark: It was really hard for me to create this guy and make him feel different from Thomas. Especially it being in the same world, the same feel, etc. I tried to make him have a little bit more of a sense of humor, be a little more fragile, but by the end a little tougher than Thomas. Because he never lost his memories, it was easier to keep him connected to his past self, his past humor, his feelings for Trina, etc.

Trina: Look, I'm not a guy who writes romance. I just don't. I think it's natural that people fall in love no matter how horrid the circumstances, and I try to show genuine characters who act natural. I just don't dwell on it too much. I like to be very subtle and avoid any eye rolls or groans. Mark and Trina had a connection from the very beginning, and unlike Thomas and Teresa, those memories weren't wiped away. I love the idea of people being friends first, and then falling in love later. The very last thing Trina says in The Kill Order is full of so much emotion and so much meaning for me, even though it's only one word. I hope my readers got it.

Alex: Mr. Tough Guy. I didn't want him to become a cliche. I tried to show his lighter side, his genuine side. The man is full of tenderness if you look hard. But he also had no problem taking on his inner Bruce Willis and kicking butt. He's one of my favorite characters of all time. In the original draft he had a few more tough guy jokes, which still crack me up, but it didn't feel right in the circumstances.

Lana: We never get to know Lana too much - there just wasn't enough time. The story, once she enters it, isn't the type where they can all just sit and sip coffee and shoot the breeze. But I did try to develop her by seeing her through Alex's eyes. He obviously cared for her very much. And I like the idea of her being tough love. The final scene with her and Alex was kind of a homage to the scene with Thomas and Newt in The Death Cure. All things come full circle in my books! Well, when it makes sense.

Deedee: Sweet little Deedee. She was so important to the story, on so many levels. The very end of the book couldn't have happened without her. And in the bonus chapter in the paperback, you realize it's even bigger than that, although many people guessed why on their own. I had to walk a fine line with Deedee. I didn't want her to be too obvious as a sentimental focal point, but after all she's a child. Most of us would do anything to save a child.

I hope all of you enjoy the prequel if you haven't had a chance to read it yet. 2014 is going to be one exciting year with the movie of the first book coming out in September. I've seen a lot of the footage, I was there when they recorded the orchestral score recently, I was on set. And let me tell you, I think the movie is going to blow people away. Talk again soon!



Thanks to the wonderful folks at Random House, one lucky winner will get a paperback copy of James Dashner's The Kill Order and a hardcover copy of his latest book, The Eye of Minds!

Contest is open to: US addresses only
Ends: January 30th

Enter via Rafflecopter below!
Please note: Bookish is not responsible for items lost or damaged in mail.

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