James Dashner reflects on the end of 'The Maze Runner' series
Writing the ending to a series is a prospect that leaves many writers biting their nails. Compound that with the pressure of finishing a series that has been on the New York Times best-seller list for 26 weeks, and there is more than a little heat that James Dashner might be feeling with the upcoming release of "The Death Cure," the final book in "The Maze Runner" triology.
Luckily, writing about heat is something that Dashner has proved himself capable of handling. But that doesn’t mean that he’s not a little anxious about the reception of "The Death Cure" among his fans.
“I know the last two big profile series ("Twilight" and "The Hunger Games") that ended there were a lot of fans disappointed,” said Dashner. “That’s not my opinion, but that’s what I’ve heard. I’m not saying that my series is as big as those, but to my readers it is. I’d be devastated if I disappointed them.”
But even with big expectations and eager fans waiting for the conclusion to the series, Dashner believes he’s got an ending that will be thrilling enough to satiate their appetites.
“I’m pretty confident that they are going to like it,” said Dashner. “I’m really anxious and eager for people to see how it ends. To see the answers to everything and the unique ending.”
Dashner said the ending of the characters and the world he’s built is bittersweet.
“I’ve grown to know this world and these characters so much, I am sad for it to be done,” said Dashner. “But I’m ready to move on; I have moved on. I’ve written two entirely new books since I wrote 'The Death Cure.’ ”
Details about the new books have not yet been officially announced. Dashner says they may not be classified as dystopian, but they are set in the future. Dashner also assures readers that if they enjoyed "The Maze Runner," they should be excited for the new series.
“I think my next book will be strong enough that when they read it, they’re really going to be hooked on the James Dashner brand,” Dashner said. “I think they’re going to love my next series just as much or more.”
Readers from all around the world are hooked on the James Dashner brand. "The Maze Runner" and "The Scorch Trials" have been sold in 21 countries and have been translated into 19 languages. Dashner believe that the success of his series has a lot to do with the popularity of the dystopian genre thanks to "The Hunger Games."
“Harry Potter brought in this amazing wave of this love for fantasy. But fantasy is very obviously make believe, not real, can’t happen,” said Dashner. “I think with this dystopian genre, it really appeals to all those people who fell in love with fantasy again, but added this element of realism. It’s kind of creepy to think these stories all these people are reading technically could happen.”
Dashner believes that the popularity of the dystopian genre has less to do with readers' views on the current political climate and is a statement that readers really enjoy a cool, compelling story. But he says there are still things to be learned from the dystopian genre.
“It could serve as a warning to all these young readers who could grow up to be our leaders someday,” said Dashner. “It can stamp in their minds how bad a society could get. And they will fight harder to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Dashner’s brand of dystopian fiction is action-packed, full of plot twists and excitement.
“I write what I love. I love suspense and action movies,” said Dashner. “I definitely write cinematically. I picture them as movies.”
Even though his books are fast-paced, Dashner said that there are some themes and ideas that will cause a discussion among readers.
“The main theme that I want people to think about when they’ve read the series is that nothing in the world is black and white,” said Dashner. “The best kind of villain is the one that you have empathy for. I think that my readers will think, ‘Yeah, well if the world had truly gotten that desperate maybe I would have done something like what Wicked did.’ ”
But sending a message isn’t why Dashner loves to write.
“My main point is to entertain and write a fun, cool story,” Dashner said.
Emily Ellsworth is a blogger at Emily's Reading Room online at emilysreadingroom.com, a blog dedicated to promoting a love of young adult fiction.