“A Touching Story From One Of The Most Beloved Characters In YA Fiction”
As Gandalf the White says in the Return of the King, “End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take.” Death is the central theme of The Crank Palace. What do we do when we are confronted with our inevitable death? Newt himself asks this question countless times in his stand-alone story that might be the best in the entire series. It is undoubtedly better than the main plot in both The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure by a wide mile. The other major character in The Crank Palace is Keisha, whose story arc motivates Newt to find meaning in a life gone wrong. Keisha is a surprisingly complex yet intriguing character that grows to care about Newt in a matter of days. Their relationship develops tremendously that I couldn’t help to feel touched. It is a perfectly told story entirely from Newt’s perspective, even though I kind of wished it was longer. The Crank Palace is James Dashner’s best work and might be the peak of The Maze Runner in terms of storytelling and character development.
PLOT AND CHARACTERS
I will not spoil the plot, but you should know that it is a story of love and death. It is simple, but the most moving of the series. With an inevitable conclusion lingering in the back of my mind, I wondered how the author could find something compelling enough to justify a new story that was likely never planned out in the first place when the original Maze Runner trilogy was released. I’m happy to say that this worked out much better than I expected. The plot itself is powerful, especially as the story winds down. It isn’t anything too complicated, but it was what I had hoped Dashner would have gone for. Something to give Newt a true textbook ending for arguably the best character of the series. This is a must-read, no matter how many times I say it throughout this review.
Newt might literally be the hero of The Maze Runner series. If anything, The Crank Palace might have solidified him as earning the title. Not only was his story more interesting than the one with Thomas in The Death Cure, but it makes me wonder whether Dashner meant to do this on purpose. The author has admitted that Thomas is a fictional version of himself, but maybe he didn’t mean it to be about Thomas. Sure, it’s more likely he wrote The Crank Palace in response to Newt’s character in the movies. However, Dashner left an ambiguous ending that leaves the door open for something interesting to happen in the future. And if there is another installment into the series, I’m curious to see how Newt’s actions will make Thomas rethink of his best friend.
Newt seems to be a more significant driving force than Thomas in terms of both characters and their motivations and potential sequels. I’ve learned indefinitely that with this newest book. Newt motivates Thomas to continue trekking the Scorch. Newt also motivates Thomas to finish WICKED once and for all. Likewise, the main plot of The Crank Palace is primarily driven by Newt when it is actually more about Keisha. She and Dante certainly wouldn’t have survived without him. Similar to how the Gladers would not have survived without his voice of reason. No other character drives others more than Newt. Because of that, he is a top 5 fictional character in my book.
Character Score: 10/10
In under 4 hours, Keisha turned out to be one of the best Maze Runner characters ever. Her short story arc is motivated by Newt, who is her primary moral compass. Keisha’s dialogue with Newt was also very meaningful and the most heartfelt of the entire series. It is remarkable how in such little time, she grows a bond so powerful with him. The lengths that both are willing to take to protect each other is astounding. I really want to know more about Keisha’s past and how she got in that position in the first place. Although that is unlikely, it is a testament to how compelling she is and what she meant to Newt. Maybe this isn’t the last we’ve heard from her.
Character Score: 9.5/10
This is a short review because there isn’t much more to talk about what was said. There’s little content in this short novel, but it is by far the most interesting of the series. I intend to purchase a physical copy to read each word off the page and ensure I caught everything. I am a little disappointed that the movies can’t follow this same story, although Disney has supposedly confirmed that another film is in the works. I am unsure what it will be about, but a story like this would have been very compelling to watch on the big screen. It would win those who are on the fence about the movies, that’s for sure.
Regardless, I am glad to have heard this through audiobook, and I will develop my thoughts more when the physical copy is out. It is a depressing story, like The Death Cure, but Crank Palace gave us much more needed closure. Its theme of death drives the main point through, almost religiously and philosophically, in a way. This novel will stick a burning memory to me until the end of time. There is no question that this will go down as one of my favorite works of fiction. The Crank Palace is truly a one of a kind tale, one that will be difficult to match. It is the epitome of character development and emotional storytelling.
Overall Score: 10/10
-The story is interesting and touching, hitting on every note.
-Well written characters for such a short story.
-Newt and Keisha form a bond that rivals the friendship of Thomas and Newt.
-Some of the best writing in the series rivaling The Fever Code and Chapter 55 of The Death Cure.
-Excellent voice acting, with the narrator making it clear who is speaking.
-The theme of death is quite profound, but it is one that we will have to embrace at some point in our lives. The Crank Palace makes me feel less afraid about death, and that is a most satisfying feeling.
-It could have been a little bit longer but didn’t need to.