- "For all the die-hard Maze Runner fans. You're crazy and full of passion and I love you."
- — James Dashner
The Fever Code is a young-adult dystopian science-fiction novel and the fifth book in The Maze Runner series written by James Dashner. It was released on September 27, 2016. It is the second prequel in the series and the fifth installment overall, preceded by The Kill Order and followed by The Maze Runner.
The novel follows the events after The Kill Order and is considered the second book chronologically. The novel explores the creation of the Maze, how the Gladers came to be, and the beginning of the trials explored in The Maze Runner. The book also features the "purge" that is briefly mentioned in The Death Cure.
Dashner stated, "From the very beginning, I've always wanted to write a prequel about Thomas, Teresa, Newt, Minho, Alby and all the Gladers that leads up to the very moment Thomas enters the Box. There are so many things hinted at that will be fun to reveal in depth. For years, fans have made it abundantly and enthusiastically clear that they want the same thing, so now seems like the perfect time to give readers the story of how the Maze began.”
Once there was a world’s end.
The forests burned, the lakes and rivers dried up, and the oceans swelled.
Then came a plague, and fever spread across the globe. Families died, violence reigned, and man killed man.
Next came WICKED, who were looking for an answer. And then they found the perfect boy.
The boy’s name was Thomas, and Thomas built a maze.
Now there are secrets.
There are lies.
And there are loyalties history could never have foreseen.
This is the story of that boy, Thomas, and how he built a maze that only he could tear down.
All will be revealed.
The book starts with Newt and his younger sister Lizzy, who were living in a basement with their parents. It snowed that morning, which was unexpected but welcome, and Newt, Lizzy, and their mother watched from the window. Suddenly WICKED agents forced their way in and demanded the girl, Lizzy, as they knew she was Immune. The parents refused to hand her over. Newt's dad shot one of the men in the leg in an attempt to protect his daughter, but a woman pulled out her own weapon and shot Newt's father and mother dead. Someone said that they should also take Newt as a control subject, and both he and Lizzy were taken away.
The point of view then switches to Stephen, who was nearly five years old and had just been taken by WICKED. WICKED had tried to force the name Thomas upon him, and he had proven resistant. A man named Randall Spilker injected him with a pain stimulator, and after terrible bouts of pain, asked Stephen what his name was. Finally, Stephen admitted that his name was Thomas. He was emotionally scarred after this experience.
Thomas attended advanced classes with various tutors for several years. During this time, he became acquainted with Dr. Ava Paige, whom he liked most out of all the WICKED staff. After three years, Thomas was finally allowed to meet Teresa, a girl about his age who had a room next door. Very soon, after a few conversations with her, the two were promoted to building the Maze. But right after that, Thomas and Teresa met a few of the “others”, who were kept away from them in a different part of the WICKED facility. Newt, Minho, and Alby quickly became good friends with Thomas and Teresa, and they sneaked around the facility together, having fun every night for nearly a week. But the friends brought some trouble. The three (Newt, Minho, and Alby) took Thomas and Teresa into the outside world, only to be caught by WICKED. With the exception of Newt, who was not immune, the four of them were forced to venture into the Crank pits. John Michael, the Flare-ravaged founder of WICKED, appeared with a small chalkboard and wrote "WICKED is good" on it. He begged the kids to find a cure, and then, at his request, Randall Spilker shot him.
The experience really got through to the kids. They did not have any more secret meetings in the maintenance room for quite a while, but then Teresa managed to hack WICKED’s security systems and allowed the friends to meet. On one of their meetings,, Thomas and Teresa stumbled upon a younger kid named Charles, whom Thomas immediately nicknamed Chuck. He became the little brother they never had. Pretty soon, the secret meetings were back in business. But Minho was planning something big - escaping WICKED. Hating the fact that he was treated like a lab rat, Minho allied with Gally to form a plan, though none of the others agreed to leave with them.
The day after WICKED found out that Minho tried to escape, they unleashed a Griever on Minho and forced Thomas to watch from a screen, demonstrating to both of them that anyone who tried to escape would be harshly punished. They were also still working on the Griever itself and used this as a chance to test its mechanics, as well as study the reactions of both Thomas and Minho. While they did stop the Griever right before it hurt Minho, they repeated the experience several times, having Teresa, Aris, and Rachel watch each subsequent time, leaving Minho traumatized. After the horrifying experience, Thomas went back and directed all his attention to building the Maze. Some time later, the Maze was complete.
Right before they were sent in, Thomas went to say his goodbyes. His friends, who had been tolerating the idea of being sent in up until then, suddenly realized that Thomas and Teresa were not going in with them, and they felt betrayed. When Thomas was not able to answer truthfully about the Maze being his project, it only made his friends hate him more.
After the initial group of forty or so were sent to the Maze, Thomas went to the observation room to check in on his friends; to his horror, he realized that they had all had their memories wiped, which had never been mentioned to him. Day after day, he watched them from the observation room. Sometimes Chuck or Teresa joined him.
About a year after the beginning of the Maze Trials, Dr. Paige told him and Teresa that she suspected there was an outbreak of the Flare among some of the staff. They went to Chancellor Kevin Anderson's quarters, where they found that the chancellor was past the Gone, though not violent. Paige looked through some files on the chancellor's computer, and she deduced that he was covering up the Flare outbreak. She then went and got Rachel and Aris, along with four backpacks full of weapons and syringes of poison that would kill quickly. Paige told them that, being the few Immune available for the job, it was up to them to kill the chancellor and all nineteen other Flare-infected. Thomas and Rachel were horrified, but Teresa and Aris seemed resigned to doing it for the common good. All four of them euthanized the Cranks; Thomas and Teresa each nearly died when a fight broke out with some Cranks and were forced to shoot two of them dead.
After the Purge, Thomas did not go to the observation room for some time. When he finally did, the first thing he saw on the screen was Newt limping along with Alby helping him. He looked at footage from the day before and pieced it all together, realizing that Newt had climbed up a wall in the Maze and tried to kill himself by jumping off, succeeding only in injuring his right leg.
Nearly a year later, he met Jorge and Brenda, two Immunes who were going to be sent to the Scorch along with a team to conduct research. As the new chancellor, Paige sent Thomas along with them to test the long-range efficacy of his brain implant. On the Berg flight there, Brenda and Thomas had a conversation, with Brenda saying that she could tell that Thomas and Teresa were clearly more than friends and that Thomas should make a move.
In the Scorch, Brenda and Jorge headed together toward the Crank city, while Thomas headed with the team to an underground tunnel, which someone explained was originally made by inmates escaping from a prison, and that WICKED had claimed it for their own purposes. They headed deep into the tunnel and activated a Flat Trans, stepping through to find themselves back in a brick building that was part of the WICKED facilities. Dr. Paige and Teresa were there to greet Thomas, and Teresa hugged him. Instead of riding the few miles back to the main facility with them, Thomas elected to walk there himself, even though it was at night; Paige assigned two guards to escort him. On the way there, they were ambushed by a Flare-crazed Randall Spilker, whom Thomas had not seen for some time. He killed both guards and sneaked through the trees, stalking Thomas. Thomas picked up a fallen guard's Launcher and contacted Teresa telepathically. Spilker charged him, and Thomas incapacitated him with a Launcher grenade. Then, he smashed his head in with the butt end of the Launcher. When Teresa and some others came to help him, they found him sitting there, horrified at what he had done.
Day after day of seeing the horrors of the Maze made Thomas determined to do something about it. He concocted a plan and got Teresa's approval. They planned to get Paige to allow them to go into the Maze with their memories intact; once there, however, they secretly intended to lead the Gladers to freedom outside of WICKED. Paige seemed to agree to their plan.
The night before Thomas went up into the Maze, Teresa and Thomas had a heartfelt conversation, in which Teresa pinkie-promised that they would soon be together in the Maze, both memories intact. She also told Thomas that he meant the world to her. They hugged and lay together in Thomas's bed all night long.
However, the next morning Paige drugged Thomas with a cup of tea. As he slipped into unconsciousness, Paige told him that he was too trusting. She also admitted to him that it was she who had unleashed the Flare on the former chancellor and the nineteen others, all because they had disagreed with her vision for the Trials.
Thomas's memory was wiped and he was placed in the Maze. At the very end of the book, there was an email from Teresa to the WICKED staff, saying that she thought the plan for her to keep her memories and coordinate things telepathically with Aris was a good one. She stated that she appreciated everything WICKED had done for her over the years and that, before going up in the Box, she would write "WICKED is good" on her arm, hoping that it would plant a seed in the minds of the Gladers who saw it.
- Dashner confirmed on Twitter that the book includes Newt's suicide attempt.
- The Fever Code is told primarily from Thomas's point of view, but there are a few "asides" from others.
- The prologue is told from Newt's point of view.
- The UK cover contains a code that, when decoded, spells out a website called ishuckingfoundit.com. Correctly answering the questions there unlocks a video message from Dashner and a short story featuring Ben.