First Impressions: I loved The Maze Runner series so much that I wanted to really love this book. I have a fascination with wanting to know what happens before I find myself in a story, and I love that Dashner has created a world that existed before the first pages of The Maze Runner were penned. I wanted to know more about the sickness infecting the world, the darkness that had enveloped a crazed planet. Well written as always, the opening pages of this book seemed like they were going to answer a lot of my questions. But, it didn't. I will go into that more later.
First 50 Pages: Besides the brief prologue, there is not too much that is familiar about The Kill Order. You are introduced to a new group of characters fighting a completely different battle. What this book does well, and instantly, is set up the post solar flare world. Everything changes on earth when a solar flare hits and nearly destroys everything. What is left are small settlements and resilient people. That is, until the ships come from the sky and reign a new kind of terror on the flare survivors. Instead of being their salvation, the giant ships sends Mark, Alec, Trina and Lana on a new, horrifying journey.
Characters & Plot: At first, I was a little disappointed that more of the story was not going to be dedicated to the characters I had met in the Maze Runner series. I wanted to know more of their story, for sure. But, Dashner created a whole group of characters that are tough, hardened and yet somehow still vulnerable. Mark, the main character, goes through every emotion possible in the pages of this story. He is hopeful, playful, angry, lost, scared and brave all at once. Alec is a strong support, leader and guide as they try and find their friends and, in the process, discover the dark truth of the disease that is wiping out people and making them go mad.
The story is dark, violent and more than a little disturbing. I found myself repulsed and disgusted on more than one occasion, that's for sure. There is a lot of exposition in this one, and a lot of major battles with people who do not really understand what has happened to them. Overall, the plot is well done from beginning to end, but I was shocked at just how dark and violent it really was!
Final Thoughts: This was not the book I expected it to be. I guess I don't really know what I was expecting. I think I was thinking this would be more of an immediate prequel to the Maze Runner series, but instead it takes a pretty big step back in time and talks a lot more about the origins of the disease flare and the solar flare that nearly destroyed the world. The Kill Order is a really good book, and fits the world of the rest of the series well. I do wonder, however, how new readers to the series will take to this book, especially if they read this as the first book in the series instead of a new part of the story after reading the rest of the books. I would recommend it, although not while eating because it's definitely violent!