06 February 2013

Book Review: The Death Cure by James Dashner

Title: The Death Cure
Author(s): James Dashner
Genre(s): Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher/Date: Delacorte Books for Young Readers / October, 11 2011
Series: The Maze Runner (Book #3)

Challenge(s): 2013 Catch Up Reading Challenge

'WICKED thinks they can complete the cure, that they're almost there. The only missing piece is me. They swear it's the truth, but they've manipulated and lied so much, it's become impossible to know what's real and what's not real. Who knows what their motives are now. Or how desperate they've gotten, or what they might be willing to do."
Warning: This review may contain spoilers concerning The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials.

Case Study
The trials are over and the stakes higher than ever for Thomas and his friends. The variables are all in place and a final candidate has been chosen, putting WICKED closer than ever to finding a cure for the flare. All the gang has to do is cooperate for this one last test and they will finally remember everything; but after going through so much, Thomas isn't sure WICKED can be trusted. Upon staging a daring escape, Thomas, Minho, Newt, Jorge and Brenda navigate the disease-ridden world and see the effects of the flare first hand. And suddenly, they're left questioning the reasoning behind WICKED's actions. Do the means justify the ends? Are the lives of a few sacrificed in the name of the greater good worth it? Or was there never any hope to begin with? In the end, it's up to Thomas to decide.

The Game's Afoot
The Death Cure is the final chapter of Dashner's dystopian Maze Runner trilogy. Though I enjoyed the first two books, my liking for the third pales in comparison to previous installments. I was hoping for something really climactic, to be left with a big bang. Oh, there was a BANG alright, just not the satisfying kind. I feel sort of cheated because all I'm left with is a bunch of unanswered questions --- like, how was mapping their reactions to the trials going to create a cure? What point did it serve? To what extent were Thomas and Teresa involved with WICKED? Why was Thomas so much more important than all the rest? I don't always need or want my endings to be tied up in a pretty little bow, but Dashner places so much emphasis on certain mysteries that, by the end, you sort of expect to get those answers. Well, SPOILER ALERT, folks: you don't. He dances around these issues by asking more questions, and if you've ever watched the TV show Lost, you know exactly how frustrating that can be.

Another problem I had with this book (and the series, in general) is that I found most of the main characters to be one-dimensional and flat. Thomas is annoying and weak, Brenda is underdeveloped and Teresa is dull. And don't even get me started on the touch-and-go love triangle. Seriously, it needed to be omitted altogether. Clearly Dashner has some issues with writing multifaceted lead characters, particularly with regard to women which is a shame because his knack for writing engaging sidekicks is quite good. Let's just say, my love for Newt and Minho was enough to let me get over my issues with the rest of the cast. These guys are the two whose fates I genuinely cared about and they are the ones I was really rooting for. It just sucks because Dashner puts them through the ringer and no one, I repeat, no one made it out unscathed! 

Overall, I really enjoyed the series though this book was my least favourite of the three. As a whole, I think the series could've been parred down to either one really long book or made into two, at best, because so much happens that wasn't necessary to the main plot, entertaining as it was. And I know it sounds like I hated The Death Cure, I didn't. There were heart-pounding moments that kept me on the edge of my seat. We lose two more Gladers and the end action takes us back to a very familiar setting. It was appropriate to end it that way, as I felt like it brought the series around full circle.

Perhaps the best thing about the book is that Dashner gets you thinking about right versus wrong and how the answers aren't always in black and white. In this war, there are two conflicting sides, WICKED and The Right Arm, and each takes an extreme stance on how to treat the disease.You start to wonder, does the end really justify the means? Is either force justified in their extreme actions? To The Death Cure's credit, I will say this--- it leaves you pondering those thought-provoking questions long after you finish reading. 

Summary Prognosis
The Death Cure wasn't quite the ending I hoped for in the Maze Runner trilogy, leaving me with a maddening amount of questions. Jam packed with action though, there is some sort of resolution albeit not the one I was hoping for. There's no comparison to The Hunger Games but it's still an entertaining and interesting series at the very least. I'm intrigued to see if the prequel circles back around to answer some of those mysteries, though I doubt it'll be the next book I decide to pick up.

Rating: ★★½

Read It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible 
Discuss It: Goodreads | Author's Website 


  1. I am on the same page as you when it comes to my opinion of this book. I was expecting way more in the final book in this trilogy. I enjoyed all the action in the first two books and I just felt like this one fell short. It kind of reminded me of how I felt after reading the third Hunger Games book.

    1. I liked how the book (sort of) ended right where it started, I thought that was a clever fit, but I still wanted answers. Dashner poses all of these curious questions about WICKED and Thomas/Theresa's backstories, and we don't get any of those answers, so I wonder, what was the point of asking? It wasn't that I was disappointed as much as I was frustrated with it. Not sure if I'll read the prequel now or not.

    2. I did like the full circle plot choice, that was probably my favorite part, but I still wanted some more action. I guess I'm an action junky. lol But yes, it was frustrating leaving us with so many unanswered questions. I read the prequel and it was pretty good. Answered a few questions but I still felt like something was missing.

  2. I didn't get on with The Maze Runner at all. Loved the idea but just didn't get into it.

    1. I have to agree with you, Ellie. The idea was fantastic and I liked the side-characters enough to continue on, but honestly, the first book was probably the best of the three. You're really not missing out on too much (aside from frustration).

  3. *ugh* I hate when that happens, when the last of a series is a letdown. I know what you mean about being left unsatisfied, Lost is prime example.
    I think overall the Maze Runner trilogy sounds interesting, but it wouldn't be at the top of my Mt TBR. Nicely reviewed!

    1. Thanks, Naida! I liked the first book well enough but the series, as a whole, wasn't my favourite. It's entertaining enough if you don't have anything better to read.

  4. Aw, I'm sorry this was a disappointment to you! That's the worst, when a series you love lets you down in the final installment. I've felt this way about too many YA series to count lately. :(

    I have to admit, I had the same one-dimension problems with the characters in the first book, so I never did end up finishing it. I hope your next read is better.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    1. I know what you mean, Wendy! Although, lately the contemporary YA scene has been pleasantly surprising, so it's nice to finally get out of that slump of dissatisfaction.

      That's exactly how I felt, but I liked enough of the side-characters and the premise to push through. Unfortuantely, the first book is the best of the three, so if you didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't recommend continuing on with the series.

  5. I've never heard of that book before, but it looks really interesting! And the story sounds really good too. Thanks for sharing it!

    Marlene Detierro (Seward Alaska Fishing)

  6. Hate this story. Why must the main character die. Especially Newt, he's the glue. Without him, the team will fall apart. I am very damn upset


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