Endings are hard. Have you really told your story? Have you finished everything you want to say? Are you going to leave the story open or are you going to close everything off with the wave of your hand? I guess that’s why we have so many instances of the “end” of something letting us down. Or in the case of so many superhero stories, not really ending it and rebooting it for another day. In some cases, three times in 10 years.
I’m looking at YOU Batman and Spider-Man.
So, it is with that in mind that read The Death Cure, perhaps the best named but sadly, weakest of the Maze Runner Trilogy books (not counting the prequels. Yes. I’m getting to those. No. Not next week.)
Like it’s predecessor, The Death Cure picks up following the events of The Scorch Trials with Thomas locked up in a windowless white room slowing going mad as he awaits his fate. He’s cut off all telepathic communication with Theresa following the events of the Scorch Trials and her perceived betrayals. He is then removed from the room and is offered a chance to regain his memories but he’ll be cut off telepathically from Theresa and Aris. Also, as a stroke of bad luck, it turns out that as part of the variables not everyone was immune to the Flare, so sadly, poor Newt is now going to die. Then some stuff happens. More stuff happens. Eventually we will find out that there was a resistance to WICKED called the Right Arm (for reasons that are never made clear) and Gally who murdered Chuck in the first book has joined them. Then more stuff happens. Eventually, it’s back into the Maze for a few pages.
I didn’t dislike this book, I still think the concept is really cool. A Flare pretty much destroys the Earth. A disease is released (spoiler: eventually you find out that it’s released intentionally). People live, stakes are high, testing is done. The problem is that I kind of felt like the conversation between the writer and the publisher went a little like this.
“Hey, love this Maze Runner thing. How much material do you have?”
“I don’t know. Maybe four or five books.”
“Ah.. you see, trilogies are REALLY hot right now.”
“So... you want a trilogy?”
“Bingo! Just cram what you’ve got into the end.”
The Death Cure is more of a mishmash of ideas that, and because I read this on a Kindle I’m not 100% percent certain about, but it felt this way, was way longer than the other books. The pacing clearly starts to break down at the end of The Scorch Trials, and then the rest of this book is just sort of like “the greatest hits of what James Dashner wanted to write, but didn’t.”
There’s the fact that Newt is not immune, and taken away. They spend time In Denver, which supposedly is a clean city, but is slowly succumbing to the Flare. There’s the whole Right Arm and Gally situation, which is VERY interesting, but only takes up a few pages. A group fighting the combined world’s governments? We don’t think this is interesting? There’s the storyline where Theresa escapes with some people, but... to where? She just sort of meanders out of the book so she can (spoiler) make her big sacrifice at the end and redeem herself. There’s the Immunes being slowly kidnapped... then put back into the maze as a way of keeping them safe.
There’s easily two half books contained within the Death Cure, and I wanted to read them, not have them put off to the special wonderful mini-book that I’m sure may be coming out. James Dashner spends a lot of time coming up with this fantastic dystopian world that has recognizable elements and isn’t left vague... it’s frightening and realistic all at the same time. And there are some great concepts, particularly the revolution, which I talk about more in this review than is mentioned in the book itself.
The book and the story ends (spoilers again... I can’t talk about this without talking about the ending) the immunes being sent into a new area (a new “Glade” if you will) to rebuild society, and the whole thing turning out to be a setup from WICKED. Which also negates almost the entire need for the Right Arm subplot, since they’re trying to stop - what - them from just giving up?
The best moment of the book is Newt. No longer immune, the once important leader and “glue” of the group is removed, and is slowly succumbing to the effects of the Flare. The stakes are raised further when it is revealed that Thomas, holding the cure to the Flare in his brain, will have to be sacrificed. There’s a tension that I wish could have been explored more, especially with the way that Thomas feels responsible for Newt’s condition, including his limp, when it’s revealed as to why he has that as well.
The really funny thing is that with all the Young Adult Movie adaptions coming out, the adaptors of this movie have said that they will not be splitting the movie into two parts, such as done with Hunger Games and eventually, Divergent. Which is sad, because this did require some splitting, and expansion of some excellent ideas. I really wish Dashner had gotten the opportunity to finish them. This needed more. Maybe some of my questions will be addressed in the prequels? I hope so. It’s an interesting concept that needed the extra time to be fleshed out.
So, I’m recommending you read this trilogy, but I’m also recommending that someone, somewhere, come up with a good ending at some point to a book series.