The Death Cure by James Dashner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The reason I read The Maze Runner series was that someone had given them to my 10 year old niece, and I was previewing them for her. My family was vacationing at my brother-in-law’s house, and I always like to take some time to read while we’re on vacation because my husband, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and I like to help take care of each other’s kids and split cooking duties, etc., so that we can all get some date time and time to ourselves. Point being, I read 6 or 7 novels over the course of 10 days or so while we were at their house.
I was previewing these novels for my niece to help her and her parents figure out what would be a good age for her to read them. In the end I recommended that she not bother to read them at all.
James Dashner is a good writer. The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure were certainly page-turners. Also, his books have gained some popularity, being that the first two have been made into movies already, and the books were given to my niece in the first place. My husband and I actually watched The Maze Runner when it came out as a rental, and we enjoyed the movie, so I was very interested in reading the books.
That said, The Maze Runner series does not make a good story.
SPOILER ALERT: The characters in the story are supposed to be teenagers, and they are forced to endure terrible violence and heartache by a company known by the acronym WICKED. They are told the mantra, “WICKED is good.” Just that play on words alone should enough for parents to question whether these books are worth reading.
Not only does WICKED create the virus that infects people and basically turns them into zombies, but WICKED basically brain-wiped the children that they are testing on in hopes of finding a cure for the virus they created. So these children have to fight their way through terrible trials just so WICKED can see how it affects their brains. Since these are somewhat sci-fi novels, the poor kids have no idea what is real and what isn’t because WICKED can manipulate reality.
In the end, “WICKED is good” because it provides a way to send the people that for some reason are immune to the virus to a deserted island where they can wait out the zombie apocalypse without fear of being killed by said zombies. From there, these immunes can repopulate the earth, and so WICKED saves the human race.
As a Christian parent, I have a major problem with these books. First, it’s unfair to ask children (sorry, that’s what teenagers are) to redefine a word (wicked) with a completely opposite meaning (“WICKED is good”). Second, I want my children to be exposed to stories that show the depths and the heights of humanity. The Maze Runner series certainly shows the depths, but the redemptive qualities (any truly good story must be a battle between good and evil) are just not there. The main characters are not good enough to counter the evil in these stories, because in the end the evil people are the saviors, and that just doesn’t sit well. It’s confusing.
I cannot recommend these books even for educational value, like I could for The Children of Men by P. D. James. Harry Potter is a much better good v. evil story that I would be happy to let my children read. Blurring the lines between good and evil is dangerous.
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