Death cure by James Dashner

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Chicken House, 2012. ISBN 9781908435200.
(Ages: 13+) Recommended. Reluctant readers. When I received this, the third in The Maze Runner series, I decided that I would have to read the first two in the series, The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials, before attempting a review. I had seen them mentioned on a number of awards, notably The Maze Runner, as a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011). I wasn't disappointed. The series was so exciting and the characters so involving that I read the series in a few days and am looking forward to the prequel, The Kill Order.
The Death Cure was a satisfying conclusion to a roller coaster group of books. Dashner's emphasis on action ensured that I had to keep reading quickly to find out what was going on. There were plenty of near death fights, explosions and escapes to keep even the most adrenalin addict glued to the page.
Dashner, too, had great settings for all his books. The Maze in the first book was a unique and fascinating invention and I loved the descriptions of how the boys had to run to escape monsters and how they organised their lives in an orderly fashion in a frightening world. The Scorch Trials had the group facing enormous danger again as they struggled across wasteland and Death cure saw the group grapple with the zombie like creatures who had the Flare, a disease that slowly ate them away and made them irrational.
Thomas was the undoubted hero of the series and it was his story that stood out. Loyal to his male friends, he protected them when he was able. Remembering snippets of what the evil organisation, WICKED planned, he was determined not to give in to them. The stories of his cohort of companions, especially Teresa, Newt and Minho, added an extra dimension to the story. Lovers of romance will be kept going with the back story of Teresa and Brenda, but the romance is so slight that boys won't be put off. There are also some deaths that were unexpected and heart breaking.
Dashner's stories are thrillers that revolve around themes of loyalty, betrayal and the eternal question: Do the ends justify the means? In Death Cure, he makes the reader think about science gone wild, about the ethics of handling children like lab rat experiments and using coercion and murder to get results. These ideas, mixed with all the suspense of the chases, made for a thrilling read.
Both boys and girls will enjoy this series.
Pat Pledger