This is a prequel to the Maze Runner series. There are three books in the original trilogy, along with this book and a sequel. The sequel is being marketed as the fifth book (Fever Code) in the Maze Runner series. I am not going to get into the specifics of the series in case you want to read it ( I do recommend it), but there will be some minor spoilers ahead for the series.
This is the story of the Flare, and how it came to be. In some ways it is predictable, you can tell where the story is going pretty early on. You also find out more about Teresa, (a main character in the original series) later on in the story.
This is a novel, but it really should have been a novella. A lot happens, but nothing that gets you any closer to finding out about the Flare- at least not until very close to the end. And this whole story is told from the perspective of a character that we don’t see in the original story. The tie to characters in the original series starts about halfway through, but it seemed to me that this could’ve been where the story started. Learning about the sun flares and the immediate aftermath was fine, but it could’ve been the prologue, or the first section of the novella. On top of that, our point of view character, Mark, was annoying. Its like he is very easily distracted. There is always the one character who always yells “I can’t just leave him there!” Or “We have to help them!”. Well, Mark is that character, and even though they’ve been through the effects of the solar flares, attacking hordes of zombie like people, etc. He still keeps that same attitude. On the one hand this means that he has kept his humanity, and that he hasn’t succumbed to the baser instincts of the other survivors, but it just seemed to be too much. I wanted to see more growth from him. He seemed at some points to kind of just bungle along.
I will say that it is refreshing to have a YA novel that is not trying to be gritty, just barely this side of PG-13. The violence is kept to a minimum, and is not overly graphic. You get just enough to know whats’ going on, and you can use your imagination to fill in the rest. A small love story that doesn’t bog things down, and no profanity. It was a nice change of pace.
Overall, I would say that if you are a big fan of the Maze Runner series, this is probably a must read. If you’re like me and more of a casual fan, then this may be one you can skip. I am more interested in Fever Code, which is the story of how the maze was built.
Lily pad rating: out of 5. Take it or leave it.