Gr 7 Up--The return of plants and animals to a land ravaged by sun flares is finally giving the humans reason to have hope for the future. Mark and Alec are just heading out to hunt when an airship approaches their primitive village, hovering overhead while its crew shoots darts into the inhabitants. The pair manages to capture the airship and discover that the darts are infecting the villagers with a highly contagious virus. Some inhabitants die immediately, while others suffer a long, agonizing death. Mark and Alec, along with their cohorts, set out to find and stop whoever is responsible. They discover that other villages have been infected, and that the virus is mutating, causing widespread madness. They find a five-year-old girl who has been shot with a dart, but doesn't show any signs of illness. As each of them begins to succumb to the virus, the significance of the little girl's immunity becomes apparent. Realizing that it's too late to stop the spread of the virus, and believing that the child is the last hope for human survival, Mark and Alec are determined to get her to safety. Throughout the story, flashbacks describe what happened when the sun flares hit and the horror of the days following the disaster. This prequel (Delacorte, 2012) to James Dashner's "Maze Runner" trilogy, is narrated by Mark Deakins, who does an excellent job of keeping the tension high, switching seamlessly between the new cast of characters.-Cary Frostick, Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA[Page 59]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr 7 Up--In his short life, Mark has seen sun flares that killed millions, including his family and beloved younger sister. Afterward, floods, food shortages, and continued devastating heat, along with individuals bent on surviving at all costs, have made his chances pretty bleak. Against all odds, he and a close-knit group of other survivors move inland and set up a community together. But before long, a flying ship brings something wholly unfamiliar: a disease, transmitted initially by darts, but soon spread person to person at an alarming rate. Mark's friends all work together to figure out what this illness is, how it spreads, and why it drives people mad, while trying to hold onto hope for themselves and save others. A prequel to the "Maze Runner" series (Delacorte), this story does indeed show how the world started to fall apart prior to Thomas's time in the Maze. However, Thomas's and Teresa's stories are contained to the prologue and epilogue, so readers hoping for information about how WICKED began will be disappointed. Dashner achieves a high level of emotional involvement for readers in this prequel. Mark knew and loved his family, which makes him a more relatable character than memory-challenged Thomas. The action is nonstop, although a little unrealistic at times, and Mark seems wise beyond his years. This novel works well as a stand-alone.--Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ[Page 114]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.