“I watched as that kid died. In his last few seconds, there was pure terror in his eyes. You can’t do that. You can’t do that to a person. I don’t care what anybody tells me, I don’t care how many people go crazy and die, I don’t care if the whole shuck human race ends. Even if that was the only thing that had to happen to find the cure, I’d still be against it.”
The Death Cure is a 2011 young adult dystopian novel written by James Dashner and is the third book published in his Maze Runner series. Picking up where The Scorch Trials left off, Thomas has beaten the Maze and survived the Scorch, but WCKD has taken everything from him. Now, he’ll risk anything to save his friends. But there’s one final test. Thomas remembers far more than they think, and it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what they say. But the truth will be terrifying and it could be what ends it all. The time for lies is over. Is there a cure for The Flare? And will the Gladers make it out alive one last time?
This following post is a review of only the book. You can read my review of the film adaptation in comparison to the book here.
Concluding the Gladers’ adventures following on from The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure sees Thomas, Minho and Newt take on WCKD one last time, as we find out more of the reasons behind their actions and whether the world and its survivors can find a cure to the disease that has taken over it.
There are some good sci-fi elements to the story as a handful of things are revealed, but much of what we are told needed a lot more detail and attention as there’s still a lot left unanswered and explored. The problem is that boys don’t seem to be bothered about saving the world, only about getting themselves free. They could be the cure – actually, Thomas IS the cure and he could have saved Newt – but even these facts aren’t enough. Instead, the book tries to make us believe that WCKD are the bad guys. Sure, they have put the group through some unnecessary torture and there’s a lot to dislike about them, but shouldn’t we be wanting these characters to sacrifice themselves for the greater good? There could have been ways for the good people in WCKD to win over or some other way to get around this but, instead, the story seems to get lost in itself a little, as Dashner gets caught up in the action and avoids the more mature themes that could have been central to this finale.
Despite the story being centred around the three boys left wanting to rescue their friends, the relationships feel underdeveloped in this third book. The three boys leading the story are all quite selfish and lack the comradeship they had back in the Glade. We aren’t cheering them on because we don’t know what they are fighting for in the end, and we aren’t even cheering on for the world to be saved because that goes against everything the boys are doing. So what is the purpose of it all? Would we be happy enough if Thomas was the only survivor if it meant that he didn’t have to give himself up?
The relationships between Thomas and Brenda/Teresa are largely ignored, too. This romance has gotten in the way since the beginning and have still been brushed upon quite often in this instalment, but it felt like Dashner didn’t want to see through what he started. This is just another thing that wasn’t explored to its full potential. I definitely didn’t want the romance to take too much of a focus, but it could have made some of the scenes more emotional if these characters’ feelings were made more obvious.
Instead of being an empowering dystopia or an exhilarating sci-fi that we all hoped this franchise would become, this final book is merely a decent action story with some themes of horror that would only really suit a teenage boy. For a younger audience, it is quite adventurous, terrifying, and exciting, but it is also quite violent and there are a lot of deaths. It’s just as fast paced as the first two books, but the story this time around doesn’t allow for as much suspense and, therefore, doesn’t have the impact of similar young adult dystopias to suit an older or larger audience, despite how well the franchise started off.
What the book does do well, however, is bring everyone together at the end as they re-enter the Maze for one last rescue mission. It was great to revisit a lot of what we were introduced to in the first book, it’s just a shame that so much of the Maze’s relevance is lost in the middle.
The Death Cure was adapted into a film in 2018, which you can read my Book vs. Film Review for here, and watch the trailer for below: