By Breia Brissey
Updated March 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT

The Maze Runner is the James Dashner series on everyone's mind, considering the success of the film and its sequel coming right around the corner. But let's not forget the Mortality Doctrine, Dashner's other popular YA series. The Game of Lives, the final book in the trilogy, doesn't hit shelves until Nov. 17—but EW has an exclusive first look at the cover today. (Click "enlarge" up top to see the full image.) Read on for an exclusive excerpt from The Game of Lives and our chat with Dashner about this book and more:

EW: First of all, what do you think about The Game of Lives cover?

JAMES DASHNER: I really like the cover. I feel like they've done a good job of keeping this futuristic theme. It gives you a virtual feel to it because everything is set in the virtual world. I like that each of the three books has its own unique color scheme, and that the character, Michael, is doing something a little more intriguing and perilous with each cover. So I'm really happy with it. It shows a lot more than it at first seems.

How much time has passed between the second book, The Rule of Thoughts, and this one?

The Rule of Thoughts leaves off with something really devastating that has happened to all the characters. But just when it seems like there's not much hope for them, there's an intriguing little twist that sets everyone on a new path. And the third book starts instantly after the second book ends. No time has passed at all.

What can you tease about The Game of Lives?

I would say that the stakes are really raised in what's happening in both the real world and the virtual world. And that Michael is not so sure anymore who his enemies are. This figure of Kaine suddenly becomes much more complex to them, and they're trying to understand what he is, what his purpose is, and who actually might truly be behind what he's doing. The third book is full of a lot of action, but some really intriguing twists to the story. The Game of Lies will be a solid ending to this trilogy of books.

There's a special collector's edition of The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials coming out on April 14. What can you tell me about that?

It's just a really good looking book. It serves several purposes. Number one, for people who are already big fans of the series, it's a cool collector's edition. It has some bonus material in it that's never been printed before. It's just a fun thing to have if you're into collecting books. And two, for people who aren't familiar with the series, it's a fun way to jump into it because you have the first two books all in one place.

Have you seen an increase in fans since The Maze Runner movie came out?

Yeah. There's a huge leap in new readers. Any time a movie comes out sales just take off, and it's really fun to see [that] internationally it's growing like crazy. Internationally is probably where we've seen the biggest jump. So many people are exposed to it through the movie, and luckily Maze Runner is in over 40 languages, so a lot of these people are able to read it in their own language. It's just really fun to watch it grow.

Things are gearing up for The Scorch Trials movie, out Sept. 18. How involved have you been with the sequel?

It's been the highlight of my career that Fox has wanted me involved. So with the second movie, I read the script and gave some feedback. I also had several conversations with producers and the director, Wes Ball, and the writer, T.S. Nowlin, and I visited the set. Wes Ball is just really cool about sending me stuff every once in awhile so I can see the progress. So I would say I'm more of a consultant on it. But I just feel really good about the process, the crew, and the actors. I'm involved just enough to make me happy. [Laughs] I realize I'm not the expert at making movies, so I'm glad that I'm in a limited role. But it's enough that I feel like I'm a part of the family.

What else are you working on right now?

The big thing I'm working on right now is another prequel to The Maze Runner. It's called The Fever Code. I had written one prequel called The Kill Order. It kind of surprised people because it actually went really far back and showed how the world got in such bad shape, but it didn't have the characters from The Maze Runner. A lot of people really wanted another prequel that was closer to the events of The Maze Runner. So this is a book that ends at the beginning of the first of The Maze Runner trilogy. It has all the characters from The Maze Runner in it. A lot of things that were alluded to in the series will be revealed in this book. And it will be really fun for people to read.