The Death Cure
First edition cover of The Death Cure
|Cover artist||Philip Straub|
|Series||The Maze Runner series|
|Genre||Young adult, dystopia, science fiction|
|Media type||Print (hardcover and paperback), audiobook, e-book|
|Preceded by||The Scorch Trials|
|Followed by||The Kill Order (in publication order)|
The Death Cure is a 2011 young adult dystopian science fiction novel written by American writer James Dashner and the third book published in the Maze Runner series (the fifth and last in narrative order). It was published on 11 October 2011 by Delacorte Press and was preceded in publication order by The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials and followed by the series prequels, The Kill Order and The Fever Code. In narrative order, it is the last book in the series.
After being held in solitary confinement, Thomas is eventually released by Janson (Rat Man in the prior novel), the assistant director of WICKED. Janson tells the Gladers (Group A) and Group B that most of their number are immune to the Flare while some are not, reading out names of people who are not immune to the Flare. Thomas is devastated to hear his friend Newt is not immune. The Gladers are offered the chance to remove the mind-control chips in their heads, thus restoring their memories, but at the cost of Thomas' ability to communicate telepathically with Teresa and Aris. Only Thomas, Minho, and Newt choose not to undergo the surgery, believing they cannot help to find the cure if they lose their telepathic connection or gain their prior memories. All three of them escape from WICKED with the help of Brenda and Jorge before their chips are removed.
Brenda and Jorge are revealed to be working for WICKED. Thomas initially feels betrayed, but Brenda convinces him to forgive her. Soon after, the Gladers discover everyone who had undergone the memory-restoration abandoned them. Newt gives Thomas a note and tells him to open it "when the time is right". The five then travel to Denver to find Hans, a former WICKED researcher, who can remove their mind-control chips. There, a man in a black-suit directs them to an address where Gally is waiting for them. Gally has joined a rebel group called the Right Arm, and explains that WICKED is capturing every Immune they can find to prepare another cycle of the Trials. He also reveals the decaying cities are home to many who suffer from the Flare, but take an illicit drug called Bliss which slows down brain functioning and helps relieve the pain Cranks feel from the Flare.
The group finds Hans, who removes Minho's control chip. However, WICKED uses Thomas' chip to force him to resist the procedure: Brenda, Jorge, and Minho have to hold him down in order for Hans to perform the surgery. Afterwards, while the group visits a café, a security guard apprehends Thomas in order to sell him to bounty hunters that will take him to WICKED. Janson intervenes in holographic form, sending a police vehicle to rescue Thomas and tells him that he must return to WICKED "to save Newt." Thomas and his friends find a note saying Newt has been taken to the Cranks. Minho convinces them to go to the Denver Crank Palace to rescue Newt, where they bribe the guards to get in. When they meet Newt, he angrily orders them to leave and the other Cranks chase them out. Thomas then remembers Newt's note and reads it, discovering he had begged Thomas to kill him. Thomas despairs over not having read the note earlier.
After returning to Denver, Thomas sees that Newt has succumbed to the Flare. Thomas answers Newt's pleas by shooting him in the head as an act of mercy. The group then discovers Teresa and the other Immunes have been captured. After knocking out the guards, they discover that the guards were led by Vince, the leader of the Right Arm, who explains they are infiltrating WICKED's headquarters. Inside, Thomas discovers how Janson tried to use his attempt "to save Newt" to compile data for the cure by examining the physical structure of Thomas's brain, which will kill him. Thomas is forced to begin the deadly brain surgery, but is able to plant a device that disables WICKED's weapons, allowing the Right Arm to begin storming the facility.
Thomas wakes up to find a note from Chancellor Ava Paige, head of WICKED, explaining there are already enough resources from the Trials to make a blueprint for the cure, and that his brain is not needed after all. Paige reveals the location of the Immunes whom the Right Arm "sold" to gain access to WICKED, and gives directions to a "safe place" where Thomas should take them all. Thomas and his friends re-enter the Maze and find the captured Immunes. However, they learn the Right Arm intends to destroy, rather than occupy, WICKED headquarters. Explosions rock the Maze and falling debris kills some of the Immunes inside. Triggered by the commotion, the Grievers come out of storage, but Teresa shows Thomas how to shut them down. However, she dies from falling debris in an effort to save Thomas's life. Fleeing the building, the Immunes escape through a Flat Trans portal that leads to a lush paradise.
- The Epilogue
The book's Epilogue is written in the voice of Paige. She reveals that after the catastrophic solar flares, the Flare was deliberately created and released by the government as a form of population control. However, the government and WICKED found themselves unable to control the plague. Paige realized that the Immunes were the only actual hope for a cure and devised a plan with Brenda and Jorge to send them to a safe refuge, where they could restore human civilization. That is why, as she states, "WICKED is good."
- Thomas: The main protagonist of the series. He is a teenage boy who was a Runner of Group A (the Gladers) before escaping the Maze with his fellow Gladers in The Maze Runner. He continued this by crossing the Scorch in The Scorch Trials, in which he was continuously manipulated by almost everyone, making it hard for him to trust other people again. Thomas escapes from having his memories restored in WICKED's headquarters and becomes entangled in the conflict between WICKED and the Right Arm – a rebel organization that opposes it. During the events in The Death Cure he falls for Brenda.
- Teresa: The only female Glader of Group A. In The Scorch Trials she reveals she has always been working with WICKED, which causes Thomas to distrust her. She volunteers for her memories to be restored and moves with the other Gladers to Denver. She eventually turns against WICKED. She dies after saving Thomas from being crushed by falling debris.
- Newt: A Glader who took upon the role of the leader of Group A after their previous leader, Alby, died in The Maze Runner. He is one of Thomas' steadfast companions, alongside Minho. The book reveals that Newt is not immune to the Flare virus and is slowly succumbing to its influence. Eventually, he begs Thomas to kill him, which Thomas does.
- Minho: A Glader, and the former Keeper of the Runners of Group A. He was Thomas' fellow Runner back in the Glade and throughout the series becomes Thomas' best friend throughout their Trials, joining him to escape WICKED's attempt to restore their memories and saving the Immunes from the Maze.
- Brenda: A Canadian girl who was part of a group of rebels in The Scorch Trials before becoming separated and having to navigate through the Scorch with Thomas. She helps Thomas, Minho, and Newt, escape from WICKED's headquarters and help them remove WICKED's chips from their necks. She and Thomas fall for each other again.
- Jorge: The leader of a group of rebels the Gladers met in The Scorch Trials. He has a close relationship with Brenda. Brenda described their relationship as Jorge being "like an uncle" to her. He was revealed to be working for WICKED, but helps Thomas, Minho, and Newt escape from WICKED's headquarters and remove their chips. He has a habit of mixing his speech with Spanish words.
- Aris: The only male member of Group B. He met Thomas in The Scorch Trials. Aris, Thomas, and Teresa are close friends in The Scorch Trials.
- Janson (Rat Man): The Assistant Director of WICKED and the book's main antagonist. He is succumbing to the Flare virus, which explains his desperation for a cure. He arranges for the Group A and Group B survivors' memories to be restored, but wants to make them go through the Trials again. Eventually Thomas kills him by strangling him, after Janson and other WICKED members try to recapture the surviving Immunes.
- Gally: A Glader of Group A who strictly followed the rules of the Glade and thus became Thomas' adversary in The Maze Runner. He indirectly caused Chuck's death when Chuck intercepted a knife Gally had thrown at Thomas. In this book, he reunites with Thomas and reveals he has been working with the Right Arm, an organization determined to stop WICKED. However, after discovering the Right Arm's true purpose, he left with Thomas and the Gladers to rescue the Immunes in the Maze.
- Vince: The leader of the Right Arm, an organization opposed to WICKED. He is Gally's boss. He recruits Thomas to infiltrate the WICKED headquarters and plant a device inside that disables the WICKED's weapons, and then leads the Right Arm's invasion of WICKED. He is strictly dedicated to his cause and brands Thomas and Gally traitors when they attempt to save hundreds of Immunes hidden in the Maze, which is about to be destroyed by the Right Arm.
- Lawrence: Vince's assistant who captures Thomas, Minho, Brenda, and Jorge and delivers them to a safe house. After their demands to see "the boss" Lawrence took them to Vince. He later drops off Thomas near the WICKED headquarters for his plan to plant the explosive device.
- Hans: A former WICKED scientist whom Thomas, Minho, Brenda, and Jorge, meet in Denver to help remove the chips from Thomas and Minho.
- Ava Paige: The Chancellor of WICKED and the person responsible for managing and organizing the search for a cure of the Flare, including sending teenagers into the Maze to study the minds of Immunes. However, she disagreed with the consequence that the teenagers were being killed. Her character serves as the omniscient voice in the books' Epilogues. She was never seen in the series, but every Epilogue of the three books in the main series, plus The Fever Code, includes an email she writes to her associates. She states a cure for the Flare virus will never be found, that the Immunes are humanity's last hope to restore the dying world, and that WICKED's actions of sending them for Trials are threatening that hope. She serves as an ex-machina in the narrative, saving Thomas from a fatal brain experiment at the last minute, after he was sedated; She instigates and secretly orchestrates his rescue of hundreds of Immunes from the attack on the Maze. She also promises and delivers a paradisaical safe haven for the Immunes.
Critical reception for The Death Cure was mixed. Common Sense Media gave the book three out of five stars, commenting that the book's oppressiveness kept it from being more memorable than they wanted it to be. The Deseret News also commented on the book's bleak nature, but praised it as being "both conclusive and satisfying". The Horn Book Guide and Kirkus Reviews both gave positive reviews, with the Horn Book Guide opining that the book's conclusion was "thought-provoking".
Wes Ball, who directed the previous films in the series, confirmed that, if he returned to direct, the final novel would not be split into two films. In March 2015, T.S. Nowlin was confirmed to write the script. On 9 July 2015 Defy Media revealed that filming was set to begin in February 2016. On 16 September 2015 Variety confirmed that Ball would return to direct the third film. The film began principal photography on 14 March 2016 in Cache Creek, British Columbia. On 19 March 2016, Maze Runner star Dylan O'Brien was critically injured on-set when he was struck by a car during a stunt sequence. On 20 March 2016, director Wes Ball announced production was shut down to allow O'Brien time to recuperate from his injuries. On 22 April 2017, the studio again delayed the release in order to allow more time for post-production. Maze Runner: The Death Cure was released on January 26, 2018.
- "The Death Cure (review)". Booklist. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- "Book Review: 'The Death Cure' by James Dashner". Jacksonville.com. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- "The Death Cure (review)". Library Journal (Book Verdict). Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- "The Death Cure: Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 3 (review)". Commonsensemedia. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- Ellsworth, Emily. "Book review: 'The Death Cure' is an action packed conclusion to 'The Maze Runner' series". Deseret News. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- "The Death Cure (review)". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- Ribay, Randy (Spring 2012). "The Death Cure (review)". The Horn Book Guide. 23 (1): 94. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- Sciretta, Peter (9 October 2014). "'The Maze Runner' Finale 'The Death Cure' won't be Split into Two Movies". /Film. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
- Busch, Anita. "'Maze Runner: The Death Cure' Sets T.S. Nowlin To Pen". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
- ClevverTV [@ClevverTV] (9 July 2015). "The script for Death Cure is currently being worked on & will begin filming in February #ScorchTrials #ScorchSneakPeek" (Tweet). Retrieved 10 July 2015 – via Twitter.
- McNary, Dave; Chi, Paul (16 September 2015). "Wes Ball Returning to Direct Third 'Maze Runner'". Variety. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
- "ET Canada | Blog - UPDATE: Maze Runner director on injured star Dylan O'Brien: "He is one tough cookie."". etcanada. Retrieved 2016-03-21.
- Wes Ball (22 April 2017). "Hey maze fans. Don't worry. Release date shifted 4 weeks. It's a good thing. I get four more weeks of VFX finals, sound mixing, & editing". Delay.
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