The Fever Code:
This will easily become an emotional post, just so you know. Some backstory: The Maze Runner was the second YA book I picked up, right after The Hunger Games, and both series have a very special place in my book (I’m so punny). I’ve been with Thomas and the gang through a lot, and when I heard The Fever Code launch would be in Los Angeles, I had to go. James Dashner was one of the authors I had always wanted to meet, but always seemed to miss. So come September, it was a glorious day when I drove to the Grove and finally got to meet the man who had helped inspire me to write YA. The Fever Code is also the only Maze Runner book I have signed, so it holds a special place on my shelf. But back to my review. (There will be SPOILERS. You’ve been warned. If it’s marked, it’s a big spoiler.)
It’s been a few years since I read The Maze Runner, and I’m sure I missed a lot of subtle remarks and wit, but reading The Fever Code was better than seeing an old friend. It was like seeing an old friend who runs across the airport floor and launches into a bear hug as if no time had passed. BUT— within two chapters I was bawling. I know there’s some hate for The Kill Order, and I agree with some of it, but stepping into The Fever Code dispelled all that fear, and hearing Dashner say THIS was the original prequel he wanted to write made me love it so much more. You can see how much it meant to him to revisit these characters and this world, to give an ending that would satisfy us Gladers, yet not give us all the answers in a bullet list.
SPOILERS: Turn away if you don’t want to know. I’m starting off with Chapter 2, because I don’t know if there is a book that compares to the level of anguish I just went through reading that chapter. Yes, there are some books where it comes close, but I’ve been by Thomas’ side since day one, and chapter two made me reconsider that. “Stephen, Stephen, Stephen. My name is Stephen.” Suddenly my eyes brimmed with tears and I couldn’t see the page anymore. Thomas had a real name, an identity beyond the Maze. In five pages, Dashner remade himself the king of heartbreak. Five pages, that’s the entirety of Chapter Two, but it ends with “Thomas, Thomas, Thomas. My name is Thomas.” The build of this moment, of this transformation, is stunning. And if you want to know how to tear apart of fandom, just read that chapter.
Building Wicked… it was so intriguing watching that organization come to life before my eyes. And GAW! All the little threads between the books that finally get tied together, all the people who have remained in the shadows now getting a name, a motive… it makes me want to go back and read all the books again to see what I missed (which I will! Trust me. The level of detail to each tie-in is remarkable). Dr. Paige though! That tie-in was killing me the whole time I read The Fever Code, because I wanted to know who this person was, how she let this happen— I got my answers.
The Gang: The Maze Runner is NOTHING without each individual Glader, and oh boy did I simultaneously tear up and laugh when I got to meet Alby, Minho, and Newt again. But CHUCK! Once a favorite, always a favorite.
This is probably my worse review because I won’t stop babbling about my love for this series, the characters, and everything that makes this fandom.
Back to Chuck. Page 125. My note reads: I HATE you James Dashner! The TEARS! CHUCK!!!!! Meeting Chuck is a swift kick in the gut, because you know where it leads. But worse is what happens over the course of The Fever Code. Chuck is as lovable as ever, and he becomes Thomas’ protégé, allowed in the control room once the Maze Trials start… and he knows someday it will be his turn. He doesn’t fight his fate, he know they will wipe his memory, he knows it’s dangerous, but he is no coward. And then he gets— well, you know.
I know this book is about Thomas, but how Dashner builds his arc, what Thomas learns and decides to do is a testament to this series. Instead of guessing, we are given information through Thomas’ eyes, knowing full well it get’s wiped away. So when he first experiences seeing his friends in the Maze and he is shocked to find they’ve had their memories wiped, when the first Glader gets stung by a Griever, we feel just as betrayed.
(SPOILER WARNING) The Purge: That thing I mentioned about Heartbreak… it hit me again. The powerful thing about Dashner’s writing isn’t his flashy prose, it’s that he hits his mark with deft fingers. Granted, flashy and beautifully crafted prose is seductive and beautiful, but there is something about being able to just sit down and read a story, to forget the world exists, that language is something you should analyze, and just read. That is the feeling I LOVE about Dashner’s writing. There is not effort to it, it seeps off the paper into your soul. The words fly off the page and enraptures you, not with sparkles, but with the truth in each word. But back to Thomas and the Purge. What makes this moment so damn heart-wrenching is that Thomas has to deal with so much, so fast. AND THEN!
Anderson says it (Which I thought was a fabulous touch. Touché Dashner, Touche!) Page 266, “They’ll take your brain in the end… They’ll take it out, look at it for a few hours, then probably eat it. You should’ve run when you had the chance.” Granted he’s a Crank at this point, but that was a line I reread a few times before I gasped and slammed the book shut to process.
Okay, so long post: Not sorry. I’m almost done… maybe.
Brenda and Jorge. I nearly threw the book across the room at that moment. (There were a lot of those moments.) And Paige… do not even get me started with that woman. I was a mess when I saw that name first pop up.
Page 331: My margin note reads- I’m not ready for this! — Chapter 62 Thomas prepares to go into the Maze, thinking he convinced Wicked to leave his memory intact.
Page 335: Margin note– I CAN’T DEAL! Chapter 63: Thomas gets betrayed.
The Fever Code is like Rogue One, it ends literal seconds before the next one picks up. We leave Thomas in the dark and “stale and dusty air”.
And to top off all the tears and anxiety and heartbreak, what do you see after turning that last page? “Turn the page for an exciting preview of The Maze Runner” so of course I did, and watched as my heart burst into a billion pieces. All. Over. Again.
I have nothing to hate about this book: it is FABULOUS. Of all the finale books for series I have read this year (all five of them) this one hit me the hardest. And The Fever Code had some tough competition: Ruin and Rising, The Midnight Star, Frost Like Night. Crooked Kingdom doesn’t count- read my review of it and you’ll know why.
The Fever Code took me back to exactly why I love YA and why I want to write YA, because it plays upon strings and threads that blow in the wind, some that end, some that weave endlessly. (Yes you Newt lovers—we still don’t know his real name).
I’m not sorry for the long post. That just shows HOW MUCH this book means to me. And I’m sad to see this series end, but content all the same. Rest in peace (or is that pieces?) my heart, there are no more finales for a while.