EDIT -- AFTER FINISHING SERIES
The flat characters and lack of answers at the end make this a disappointing series overall. You've been warned.
You can read my spoiler-free review of the trilogy ender The Death Cure here
I feel really conflicted when rating this book, because so many aspects of it rated differently, in my opinion. I would give the writing 2-3 stars, and I would give the characters 2 stars, but I would give the story ideas and the fact that I NEEDED TO KNOW WHY 4 stars. I would probably give the conclusion and final reveal 3 stars.
The story has a bit of a frustrated feel to it because things are revealed at a snail's pace, and you're going crazy right along with Thomas at the lack of answers. The Gladers have a "Shut up, don't ask questions, you can't handle the truth" policy, and it's only after Thomas does something that is both very brave and very stupid that he begins to gain their trust and finally!
find out what they know.
The plot reminded me of several different concepts while reading, and I kept trying to figure out in which direction Dashner would go. Is this some sort of [b:The Hunger Games|2767052|The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)|Suzanne Collins|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1358275334s/2767052.jpg|2792775]-like sick form of entertainment? Is this a post-apocalyptic bunker in the style of [b: The City of Ember|307791|The City of Ember (Book of Ember, #1)|Jeanne DuPrau|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347778595s/307791.jpg|2285229]? Is this just a big lab experiment where you see how it is from the lab mice's point of view? Is this just a big allegory or author's thought experiment à la [b:Lord of the Flies|7624|Lord of the Flies|William Golding|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327869409s/7624.jpg|2766512]?The end reminded me a lot of the video game Portal
(just what I've heard about it), with the whole Big Brother/Mad Science Lab Gone Insane type of thing and [b:Ender's Game|375802|Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1)|Orson Scott Card|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1364033163s/375802.jpg|2422333], with the whole We Must Do Bad Things to Kids So That They Can Save Our Future thing. It wasn't a crazy mind-blowing reveal, but it worked for this book.
So overall, I liked this idea and how it kept me guessing. I just wish the writing was stronger and the characters written so that I was more invested in them. I'd probably read the next book just because I'm curious to what this author will come up with next.