When I started reading the book, I kept waiting for the characters from the original trilogy to show up. Who are these people, Mark and Trina? Where's Thomas and the other Gladers? Of course, if I'd just read the book jacket, I'd have realized that this is a prequel; all the events in this book happen long before the Maze Runner events.
I really enjoyed the original trilogy, but didn't care for this one as much. It seems like Dashner's whole plan for this book was to throw Mark and the others into crisis scenario after crisis scenario. And so much violence, especially after the virus starts making everyone go crazy. So, not just protecting-our-territory violence, but crazy, smashing-someone's-head-into-a-wall-because-why-not violence. Over and over again.
The book does have some redeeming qualities: we get to find out what happened right after the solar flares that started the whole thing, for instance. And Mark and Trina's kinda sorta romance is sweet.