The Death Cure by James Dashner

the death cureHardcover, 325 pages
Published October 11th 2011

Usually when I read series that I’m on the fence with I tend to find that the final book is the best one. That happened in Matched and it happened in Divergent, so I was kind of hoping it would happen here. Unfortunately, I think the Maze Runner series started off bad (the beginning of Maze Runner), got somewhat interesting (middle/end of Maze Runner and beginning of Scorch Trials), then took a nose dive (middle/end of Scorch Trials) and I don’t think it ever recovered from that. In the end, the series just died.

Welcome to the The Death Cure.

I don’t think Dashner had a clear plot for this series. I mentioned before that with the Maze Runner, there was a clear plot and flow with what everything happened. Not only did it have a clear story, but you could feel like something wasn’t right with this world. Even if you didn’t like the story, you still wanted to know more about the world that the Gladers came from. Unfortunately, once we finally got to see the world, the less I wanted to see it. It just made no sense. Nothing made sense. Still, I stuck with this because I hoped that some of my questions would be answered.

Only none of them were. Not even one.

The Death Cure starts off with the two groups, the Gladers and Group B, being given the choice of regaining their memories or to remain ignorant of their past. The majority agree to the terms except Minho, Newt, and our lovely main character Thomas. Their reasons for not getting their memories back do make sense. Why trust an organization that has been trying to kill you for the past two years? Or in Thomas’ case, a couple of weeks. From a character standpoint, yes it does make sense, from a reader’s standpoint it doesn’t. The simple reason for that if Thomas remains ignorant about WICKED, the reader also remains ignorant about WICKED.

Why would an organization that was formed by all of the world leaders, entrust their entire project to a boy that’s 13 or 15 years old? Why did everyone trust Thomas so much to make him the leader of WICKED and if they knew he was the perfect candidate from the get go, why did they bother doing all this to begin with? Why did they waste money on making mazes when infrastructure would have saved more people? The tests have failed before and a lot of kids died, why did Thomas want to continue? Where did they even find the kids?

These questions of mine, never answered.

If Thomas regained his memories, we would have gotten some back story on his relationship with Teresa. They started out as friends in the Maze Runner, but that all dissolved in the next book. We never really get any insight on why Teresa did what she did. Sure, she believes that WICKED is good, but why are they good? Also, Aris and Rachel…(was that her name?) were also there with them, so what is their relationship with Thomas? Are they friends as well? And why did WICKED give them the power to talk via their minds? If WICKED can make a telepathy machine why are they having a hard time with the Flare?

Sadly, these questions are also not answered.

But back to Teresa, I feel like she got the short end of the stick with this novel. After what went down, you’d think she’d spend as much time trying to redeem herself to Thomas. Maybe even explain some things about WICKED, since she got her memory back, but it’s almost like Dashner didn’t like her and wanted Brenda to take the lead role.

Which brings me to another point, Brenda is pretty much Teresa except she likes to kiss Thomas on the cheek while Teresa just smiles at him. Both are depicted as kick ass women, but they’re still pretty much the same. I know this sounds unpopular, but it’s true. Both girls didn’t really have any personality and were simply tools to provide Thomas some emotional conflict. If he wanted to feel annoyed or angry, he’d think of Teresa. If he wanted to feel hopeful or look at the bright side of things, he’d think of Brenda. They were polar opposites in the feelings that they evoked out of Thomas, but in terms of their characterizations, they were mirror images of each other.

An when it came to Thomas, I find it incredibly hard to believe that he was able to run WICKED and that he’s depicted as some super genius, because he’s an idiot. How do I know this? It’s simple, when you’re in a coffee shop and someone comes with a gun, you run. You don’t stay and watch the guy with the gun as he beats up someone with a fatal life threatening disease. You just don’t. And even if you do, you don’t say, “My name is Thomas and I’m immune to the virus,” when you know that people are getting killed and kidnapped because they’re immune. You also don’t leave the safety of a van to run into a hostile situation, just because your friend is out there.

If said friend was healthy, this is actually pretty heroic. But if your friend already has the virus there’s no reason to do that, especially when there are many more infected people out there who wants to kill you.

That’s not smart, that’s reckless.

I’ve already spoken at how I didn’t like that Thomas didn’t get his memories back, but when Brenda started to tell Thomas who she really worked for and her story Thomas stopped her and said, “I don’t want to think about that anymore.” Someone who is smart and thinks of all of the possibilities doesn’t say things like that. He may be overwhelmed by what is happening, but that shouldn’t negate his need to figure things out in a smart and intelligent manner. The thing that annoyed me the most was how in the end, he questions why Brenda knows what to do, even though it’s obvious why she knows. She tried to tell you earlier in the book….you told her not to say anything, remember?

I can keep going on about the characters and their lack of development, especially Minho who seemed lifeless and one-note, but I think what I was most disappointed about was the world that Dahner created. The Maze Runner made it seem like it was insane. I mean, Alby did go on a suicide mission so he wouldn’t have to suffer through that again, but I don’t understanding why? Right now, the world is suffering from the deadly attacks from Solar Flares. Due to these flares, the climate changed, places became a wasteland, the heat from the sun is enough to burn someone, and there’s crazy lightning as well. I’m fine with this, really I am, and in fact I find it super interesting! But it seemed like these flares were inconsistent. In Mexico, the characters had to cover themselves from the harsh rays from the sun, but in Denver no one really cares about doing that.

Mexico is closer to the equator, so it would be hotter there, but if the sun is enough to burn you down there then it should still have some harmful side effects in Denver as well.

On top of that, there was a virus called the Flare which made people go crazy. Why or how is never really explained. Some characters mentioned that after being in an infect area for awhile, it made them more susceptible in catching the virus, but does that make the Flare an airborne virus? And if so, why are there still people, who are not immune and not infected, still around? And if it is airborne, then what exactly is the government doing? Torturing kids may be fun, but it isn’t going to save the human race. If it isn’t airborne, then why were characters saying that they may catch it? Is it from drinking water or something? How is there even water around when the sun is hot enough to burn you alive?

Again, more questions that are not answered.

In the end of the novel, it’s said that WICKED released the virus to curb the population, but why would you do this when the Solar Flares already did a great job in doing that? How is going through a bunch of life threatening trials a means to finding a cure to this disease? They developed variables and patterns, but they didn’t really explain this in depth. If solar flares were continuously happening then it would have messed up their system, so their variables and patterns would be lost. Everything seemed machine based so…….

No answers here either.

Overall: I think the Maze Runner had a lot of potential to be a good series, but this book was really a disaster. The plot kept jumping around and there wasn’t a clear thread that tied everything together. It’s almost like things happened for the sake of filling up pages. Pages that could have been used to develop the characters more. In all honestly, most of these characters are interchangeable and the ones that might have had a bit of interest surrounding them, were regulated to a few pages.

I’m glad that characters died and that Dashner wasn’t afraid of doing that, but the deaths that happened here were lackluster. I didn’t feel an emotional connection to anyone, because they were just names on the paper. Their buildup and their history essentially were thrown out the window for reasons unknown. And in the grand scheme of things if their deaths didn’t really affect Thomas, why should I care about them? Sure he may have shown some guilt and sadness, at first, but after a few paragraphs or pages he quickly forgot about them.

The worst part is that none of my questions were ever answered. I’m still confused about WICKED, the solar flares, and the Flare. Seeing as this is the last novel in this series, I don’t think I’ll be getting my questions answered anytime soon, which is a shame, because that’s usually what the last book in a series is meant to do.


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2 thoughts on “The Death Cure by James Dashner

  1. Yes! Again, I didn’t take the time to really elaborate, but this series let me down. I feel like Dashner didn’t have a good plan going in. And the females were totally cardboard cutouts. Not that anyone had any serious personality development, but those two were just tough because Thomas said so. *sigh* I’ve read worse series though. He had a lot of potential, just didn’t develop.

    • I agree, I don’t think this was the worse series, it’s just disappointing. Hopefully the author’s next series doesn’t fall into the same trap and is good. He does have a lot of good ideas, so there’s definitely room to grow here.

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