The Death Cure

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The Death Cure
The Death Cure.jpg
First edition cover of The Death Cure
Author James Dashner
Cover artist Philip Straub
Country United States
Language English
Series The Maze Runner series
Genre Young adult, dystopia, science fiction
Published 2011
Publisher Delacorte Press
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback), audiobook, e-book
Pages 325
ISBN 978-0-385-73877-4
OCLC 698332724
Preceded by The Scorch Trials
Followed by The Kill Order

The Death Cure is a 2011 young adult dystopian science fiction novel written by American writer James Dashner and the third book, fifth chronologically, in the Maze Runner series.[1] It was published on October 11, 2011 by Delacorte Press and was preceded by The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials and followed by the series prequels, The Kill Order and The Fever Code.


The protagonist, Thomas, is held in solitary confinement, but is eventually released by Assistant Director Janson, also known as Rat Man by the Gladers, who tells the Gladers and Group B that there is a cure for the Flare (a deadly disease). Many of those present were immune to the Flare while some were not, and escaping would serve no purpose, for people in the outside world despise the Immunes. The Gladers are offered the chance to restore their memories and remove the controllers in their heads. Without the devices, Thomas, Teresa, and Aris will no longer be able to communicate telepathically. Janson read out names of people who were not immune to the flare, which included Newt. Thomas was devastated. Thomas, Minho, and Newt were the only ones to choose not to undergo the procedure, but Janson later attempts to force them into the process, because he feels they will be no help to finding the cure if they don't get their memories back. All three of them escape before having chips removed, with the help of Brenda and Jorge, who are revealed to be working for WICKED and were sent to the Scorch as an assignment. Thomas feels betrayed, but Brenda convinces him she had no choice and most of her behavior was not a deception, and Thomas forgives her. Soon afterward, the Gladers discover everyone who had undergone the restoration procedure had abandoned them; Newt gives Thomas a note and tells him to open it "when the time is right".

The five of them then go to Denver looking for a man called Hans who can take out Thomas, Minho, and Newt's mind controlling chips. Newt is unable to continue, because he would have been placed into confinement with other cranks. In the airport, a black-suited man directs them to an address. Waiting for them is Gally, who has joined a group called the Right Arm, and is determined to put an end to the trials and experiments. He tells them WICKED is capturing every Immune they can find to prepare another cycle of the Trials. Gally also reveals the decaying cities are home to many who suffer from the Flare, but partake of a drug called the Bliss, which slows down brain functioning and can help cranks not feel pain from the Flare.

Thomas and his friends find Hans, and he removes Minho and Thomas' control chips, though Thomas is uncontrollably forced to resist; Brenda, Jorge, and Minho have to hold him down in order for Hans to perform the surgery on Thomas. They visit a café, where a man is found to be partaking of Bliss and captured by security, and Thomas is captured by the guard, who wants to give him to bounty hunters, who will end up giving him to WICKED. Janson, in a holographic form, uses a police vehicle to rescue Thomas and tells him he must return to WICKED to save Newt. Minho, Thomas, Brenda and Jorge return to the Berg and find a note: Newt has been taken to the Cranks. Minho convinces the four of them to go to the Crank Palace in a rescue attempt, and they meet Newt after bribing the guards. Newt angrily tells them to leave, and the Cranks chase them out. Thomas remembers the note Newt gave him and reads it to find Newt had implored Thomas to kill him. Thomas despairs about not having read the note earlier, but the four end up going back to Denver.

In Denver, they discover that Teresa and the other Immunes were all captured. Thomas and Minho knock out the guards and threaten to shoot their toes if they don't take him to their leader. Thomas and Brenda discover the "leader" is actually the Right Arm's leader, Vince. Vince tells them they are copying WICKED's design and plan to take over their headquarters building. On his way to the Right Arm's Bergs, Thomas sees Newt with a group of cranks taking over Denver. With a pistol in his pocket, Thomas tries to convince Newt to come with him, but Newt begs for Thomas to shoot him, rather than having to succumb to the Flare and become inhuman; Thomas eventually ends up shooting his friend in the head, putting him out of his misery.

Working for the Right Arm, Thomas arrives at WICKED's headquarters and discovers Janson intends to complete the cure by examining Thomas's physical brain structure; an act that will result in his death. Thomas is able to plant a device that disables all of WICKED's weapons, but is forced to begin the deadly brain surgery as the Right Arm begins storming the facility. Thomas wakes up to find himself not dead after all and finds a note from Chancellor Paige, leader of WICKED; it reveals they already have enough resources to build the blueprint for the cure from the Trials and his brain is not needed, but that some WICKED staff did not believe in the violence that WICKED was causing for a cure. It also reveals the location of the Immunes the Right Arm "sold" to WICKED to gain access, and a "safe place" where Thomas should take them all. Thomas and his friends re-enter the Maze to find WICKED's captured Immunes. They quickly learn the Right Arm does not intend to occupy WICKED headquarters; they intend to destroy it. Explosions rock the Maze, while giant rocks smash down, killing some Immunes within. The Grievers come out of where they were stored, but Teresa shows Thomas how to manually shut them down. Returning to the outside world, they are attacked by some WICKED survivors, including Janson. However, Thomas and the other immunes were able to take them down, and Thomas choked Janson to death. Thomas is almost trapped by a piece of falling debris on the way to the Flat Trans that takes them to the promised "safe place". Teresa pushes him out of the way, but dies in Thomas' place. The survivors finally make it through the portal to a lush paradise. Thomas, Minho, Gally, Frypan, Clint, and other survivors of Group A survived. Aris, Harriet, Sonya, and a few others of Group B also survived the third and final trial; Brenda and Jorge had also survived.

The epilogue reveals the Flare was deliberately engineered and released by the government as a form of population control after the sun flares, believing it kills quickly and it stops spreading after a while, but escalated beyond control, and WICKED was unable to find a cure. Then Chancellor realizes the Immunes were their only hope from the beginning; as such, she enacts a plan with Brenda and Jorge to send the Immunes through a flat trans. While the rest of the world will crumble, the remaining Immunes will rebuild society and restore the human race. This, she claims, is the reason "WICKED is good."


  • Thomas: The main protagonist of the series. He is a teenage boy who was a Runner of Group A before escaping the Maze with his fellow Gladers in The Maze Runner. He continued this with 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 a rebellious organization that opposes it, the Right Arm, and he falls for Brenda again.
  • Minho: A Glader of Group A, and the former Keeper of the Runners. He was Thomas' fellow Runner back in the Glade and throughout the series becomes one of Thomas' steadfast companions throughout their Trials, joining him to escape WICKED's attempt to restore their memories and saving the Immunes from the Maze.
  • Newt: A British Glader who took upon the role of the leader of the Gladers of Group A after their previous leader, Alby, died in The Maze Runner. He is one of Thomas' steadfast companion, alongside Minho. The book reveals that Newt is not immune to the Flare virus and is slowly succumbing to its influence. Eventually he begged Thomas to kill him, and he shot him to end Newt's misery.
  • 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 goes against WICKED, and she died after being crushed by falling debris to save Thomas' life.
  • Brenda: A Canadian girl who was part of a group of Cranks 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 controller chips from their brain. She and Thomas fall for each other again.
  • Jorge : The leader of a group of Cranks that the Gladers met in The Scorch Trials. He has a close relationship with Brenda. Brenda described their relationship as Jorge being to her "like an uncle." He was revealed to be working with WICKED, but helps Thomas, Minho, and Newt, escape from WICKED's headquarters and remove their mind-control chips. He has a habit of mixing his speech with Spanish words.
  • Aris: The only male Glader of Group B whom Thomas met in The Scorch Trials. He, Thomas, and Teresa were close associates before they were sent to the Maze. Like Teresa, he was revealed to be working with WICKED in the previous book.
  • Janson: The Assistant Director of WICKED and the book's main antagonist. He engineers for the Gladers to be restored with their memories, but wants to make them partake in the Trials all over again. He is revealed to be succumbing to the Flare virus, explaining why he is so desperate to find a cure. Eventually Thomas strangled him to his death after he and other surviving WICKED members tried to take back the immune survivors.
  • 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 the latter took the thrown knife that was meant for Thomas. In this book, he reunites with Thomas and reveals that he has been working with the Right Arm, an organization determined to put a stop against 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 opposing WICKED. He leads the Right Arm to invade the WICKED headquarters and makes Thomas put a device inside that disables the WICKED's weaponry. He is strictly dedicated to his cause and brands Thomas and Gally traitors when they attempt to save hundreds of Immunes from the Maze, which is about to get destroyed by the Right Arm. He is actually Gally's boss.
  • Frypan: The cook for the Gladers of Group A.
  • 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 at Denver to help remove the mind-controlling chips from Thomas and Minho.
  • Harriet: A past leader of Group B and is close friends with Aris and Sonya.
  • Sonya: A past co-leader of Group B and is close friends with Aris and Harriet. It is revealed in the Fever Code that she's Newt's sister.
  • Clint: The only main of the Med-jacks who survived the maze and the scorch trials, and survived the third trial.
  • Ava Paige: The chancellor of WICKED and the one responsible for engineering teenagers to be sent to the Maze for study in their search for the cure of the Flare. She has never been seen in the series, but Thomas is saved from a fatal brain experiment by a note from chancellor Paige. She states that a cure for the Flare virus will never be found and that the Immunes are humanity's last hope to restore the dying world, but WICKED's actions of sending them for Trials are threatening that hope, and she disagreed with the fact that they were being killed. She promises Thomas a paradise for the Immunes, staging his attempt to rescue hundreds of Immunes from the Maze. In every epilogue of the three books, there's an e-mail which she write to her associates.


Critical reception for The Death Cure was mixed.[2][3] Commonsensemedia 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.[4] The Deseret News also commented on the book's bleak nature, but praised it as being "both conclusive and satisfying".[5] 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".[6][7]

Film adaptation[edit]

Maze Runner: The Death Cure will be released on January 12, 2018. Wes Ball confirmed that, if he returns to direct, the film will not be split into two films.[8] In March 2015, T.S. Nowlin was confirmed to write the script.[9] On July 9, 2015, it was revealed that filming is set to begin in February 2016.[10] On September 16, 2015, it was confirmed that Ball would return to direct the third film.[11] The film began principal photography on March 14, 2016 in Cache Creek, British Columbia. On March 19, 2016, Maze Runner star Dylan O'Brien was critically injured on-set when he was struck by a car during a stunt sequence.[12] On March 20, 2016, director Wes Ball announced production was shut down to allow O'Brien time to recuperate from his injuries. The film is now scheduled for a January 12, 2018 release. Dylan O'Brien, who plays the protagonist, Thomas, has recovered.[citation needed].


  1. ^ "The Death Cure (review)". Booklist. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Book Review: 'The Death Cure' by James Dashner". Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "The Death Cure (review)". Library Journal (Book Verdict). Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Death Cure: Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 3 (review)". Commonsensemedia. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Ellsworth, Emily. "Book review: 'The Death Cure' is an action packed conclusion to 'The Maze Runner' series". Deseret News. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "The Death Cure (review)". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Ribay, Randy (Spring 2012). "The Death Cure (review)". The Horn Book Guide. 23 (1): 94. Retrieved 7 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Sciretta, Peter (October 9, 2014). "'The Maze Runner' Finale 'The Death Cure' Won't Be Split Into Two Movies". /Film. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  9. ^ Busch, Anita. "'Maze Runner: The Death Cure' Sets T.S. Nowlin To Pen". Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  10. ^ ClevverTV [ClevverTV] (July 9, 2015). "The script for Death Cure is currently being worked on & will begin filming in February #ScorchTrials #ScorchSneakPeek" (Tweet). Retrieved July 10, 2015 – via Twitter. 
  11. ^ McNary, Dave; Chi, Paul (September 16, 2015). "Wes Ball Returning to Direct Third 'Maze Runner'". Variety. Retrieved September 17, 2015. 
  12. ^ "ET Canada | Blog - UPDATE: 'Maze Runner' Director On Injured Star Dylan O'Brien: 'He Is One Tough Cookie'". etcanada. Retrieved 2016-03-21. 

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