The Fever Code
Author: James Dashner
Series: The Maze Runner, #0.6
Length: 10 hours
Narrator: Mark Deakins
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Original Publication Date: 2016
Genre(s): Young adult, Dystopian, Science fiction
WICKED is good. Or so they say. Steven is taken by WICKED as a child, when his father has already succumbed to the Flare virus, and his mother is about to share that same fate. At WICKED headquarters, Steven is given a new name, a new life, and a new purpose: help WICKED find a cure and save the world. To do this, he must become more a test subject than a person. He must become WICKED’s pawn, and the first step is taking on his new name: Thomas.
So, we all know what happens after Thomas wakes up in the box, skyrocketing into the Maze. We all know how he makes it from the Glade, through the Scorch, into the Last City, and finally arriving in Paradise, AKA the last safe place where Immunes can re-build civilization as the rest of humanity dies off. We even know what happens directly after the Flare and the spread of the virus, thanks to The Kill Order. What we never got to hear was the story about Thomas and Theresa’s life before the Maze, after they’d already been taken from their families. The Fever Code gives us this story, though trust me, no one was asking for it and it really didn’t amount to much.
The story is told in third-person POV and follows Thomas, as well as Theresa and all the other Gladers we know and love from the original series, as they are taken from their families and raised by WICKED. The book covers a span of years, so we get to watch how these characters grow from naïve children into distrustful, manipulated adolescents. Thomas is, of course, the focal point of the story, so we mostly read about his thoughts, excluding a sad preface from Newt’s former life.
Unfortunately, this addition to a great series is a hard fail. For one thing, it’s dreadfully boring. And that pains me to say, because I was never bored reading the other 4 books in the series, but wow, I could not wait to get through this one. And it was unnecessarily long, only adding to my boredom. Oh, and speaking of unnecessary, I’m going to go ahead and say the entire book is unnecessary. It literally does not need to exist. We don’t learn almost anything new in this story, expect for little tidbits of information that really don’t affect the series as a whole. The only value I found in this book is that I came to understand Thomas a little more—and maybe, possibly, begrudgingly Theresa, too.
While reading the original 3 books in the series, I always wondered why Thomas and Theresa helped WICKED before entering the Maze. I couldn’t understand how they—or, more so, Thomas—went from helping WICKED torture children, to vehemently disagreeing with all things WICKED and fighting against them. I always thought this was poor writing, but after The Fever Code, I get it. Thomas was just a kid when they took him in. They raised him. They manipulated him for years. Building the Maze was a break in the dull routine, and they always stressed that it was for a good cause, nothing bad would happen, yadda yadda. So, yeah, I sympathize with Thomas a lot more now, and I understand. Even though he is super naïve and extremely gullible.
Theresa, on the other hand, is a whole other story. I never liked Theresa in the books—not in any of them—and The Fever Code did not change that. Maybe, like for Thomas, I sympathize a little more, but I still hate her. And yeah, I know, she saves Thomas in the end of the series, but I can’t help but feel like she’s still just plain awful. I never understood why Thomas kept trusting her. Yeah, you knew her since you were, what, 7 years old or something? Who cares! She gives you reason after reason NOT to trust her. And yet…
Anyway, rant over. What I’m trying to say is, I found little value in this installation and could have gone the rest of my life without reading it. The action scenes with the Cranks were always interesting and tense, but those few moments didn’t make up for the dullness of the rest of the story. The book does pose interesting philosophical questions, though. Rachel comments that WICKED’s tagline should be “the end justifies the means.” But does it always? Is it okay to kill a million people in order to save a billion? Is it okay to torture children, subject them to things against their will, in order to save what healthy humans remain on the planet? I find those kinds of questions interesting. But, like I said, none of that really makes up for the book’s 90% pointlessness.
As a lover of this series, I am extremely disappointed with this addition and hope Dashner doesn’t have any more plans for other books. I think it’s time to let this one lie. If you consider yourself a superfan and want to know everything about Thomas and the Gladers, you’ll probably find this book interesting. Anyone else, though, just skip it if you haven’t already trudged through it.