The Scorch Trials (Book #2 The Maze Runner Series) by James Dashner
Published: 12th October 2010
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
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Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back…but no one knew what sort of life they were going back to. The earth is a wasteland. Government and order have disintegrated and now Cranks, people driven to murderous insanity by the infections disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim…and meal. Thomas can only wonder – does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?
Second in the fantastic The Maze Runner series, The Scorch Trials does not disappoint. After successfully escaping the Maze, the Gladers find themselves under the care of WICKED. But as they find out, the trials are far from over.
As with its predecessor The Scorch Trials is packed with twists and turns with every page turn. I have to admit, I watched the film before I read this book, and I went into it firstly thinking I’d ruined it for myself and secondly expecting it to be much slower paced than the first one. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Returning to the dystopian landscape of the previous book, the Gladers find themselves ‘safe’ inside a WICKED base. From there the film and the book have fewer and fewer similarities, and I have to tell you I have absolutely no idea why they steered away from the original story. I know everyone always says “The book is so much better than the film” and to be honest, I am one of those people, however it is completely true for The Scorch Trials. Having seen the film will not ruin this book for you at all.
Thomas and the Gladers find themselves ‘safe’ in the confines of a WICKED base. They awake comfortable, clean, and well rested in their very own dormitory, but full of questions following their action packed escape from the Maze and the Glade within. It isn’t long before the Gladers once again find themselves in the thick of it, Thomas in particular. The one plus side of the WICKED base is they finally get some answers.
Sun flares have decimated the planet, while humanity has been ravaged by a disease called the Flare. A disease that drives people crazy. WICKED has been tasked with finding a cure, with the conclusion of the Maze Trials they believe they are one step closer, now to commence the Scorch Trials. Only this time they have given the Gladers a bit of an incentive to get through it.
The Gladers set off into the wasteland that is the Scorch. Encountering many increasingly difficult challenges along the way, challenges that will test not only their physical and mental endurance, but the strength of their relationships. The have their first contact with the Cranks, people infected with the insanity inducing Flare disease, then their second, with things going from bad to worse each time.
The Gladers lose and gain accomplices along the way, and they certainly make some enemies, but they have a destination, and Thomas and the Gladers will stop at nothing to get there. Can WICKED be trusted? Will the Trials finally be over? Can they even trust each other?
Dashner has done it again, with each answer he give you more questions spring up. The endless plot twists will leave your head spinning, just when you think nothing else can possibly happen BAM! Plot twist! Once again, while this chapter of the story is fittingly concluded, with many of your original questions answered, Dashner leaves you wanting more!
With new challenges to face, Thomas, and the other Gladers have to adapt. It is interesting to see how they accept and disregard the assigned roles in different situations. Thomas at times is easily led, and once again goes through a cycle of unsure, indecisive, confused, to following his instincts with confidence (except for that one time when he lets his heart get the better of his head) and taking control. He’s strong when he needs to be, without being controlling, and mature beyond his years. After all he is just a boy, and despite wanting to have his own agenda at times, the good of the group always comes first.
The Scorch Trials offers more in the way of character development of the side characters, and we get to see so much more of Newt and Minho’s individual personalities. Unlike in The Maze Runner, their roles are decided for them in this book, and aptly so. Minho keeps the Gladers focused, with Newt taking on a calming advisory role. There isn’t much in terms of development for Teresa, her interactions are brief and appear to be lacking in emotion, although that may be intentional as the tone of the tale changer.
Dashner has also introduced some new characters. The Rat Man becomes the face of WICKED for Thomas and the Gladers, his clinical indifference giving the characters and reader alike somewhere to focus their anger and disdain. The Cranks, showcasing the stages of the flare. Jorge is almost immediately endearing with his wit and charisma oozing off the page. And then there’s Brenda.
Brenda has to be my favourite addition to the cast of The Maze Runner series. She’s fiery, she’s sassy, she knows what she wants, even if she doesn’t quite know how to express herself at times. And the conflicts she creates for Thomas make for an entertaining read.
Personally I enjoyed the character development throughout the book. Thomas goes from an unsure, timid at times, follower, to a quick think, logical yet impulsive, leader, who is not afraid to follow his gut instincts. You feel for Thomas throughout his journey, the story focuses on him so you’re more aware of his plight, and the extra weight on his mind.
The Scorch Trials offers a lot more in terms of world building that the first in the series. Outside of the confines of the Maze, they finally find out what is going on in the world outside, and it’s not good news. Once again, the information they get is limited. Sun flares have caused the land to become barren wasteland, and this is where the Gladers are headed. As the story unfolds they learn that the sun flares inflicted more damage in some areas than others.
We are also introduced to the Flare, the pandemic that has swept through population causing people to lose their sanity. The panic as it spreads and humanities attempts at a solution. In an attempt to reduce the spread of infection, the population of Cranks are left to fend for themselves in the worse affected areas of the planet, The Scorch.
Writing and Atmosphere
Humanity is at risk. You don’t forget that from the first page to the last page. Once again Dashner has mastered the art of suspense building. Your heart will race as situations, that are dire to begin with, become inescapable. At times you cannot foresee how they can get around the challenges they face.
Dashner expertly uses his characters emotions to set the scene, their actions and reactions building appropriate atmosphere throughout. And his descriptions of his characters and their landscapes, invoke detailed images. The wit and banter between the characters flowing seamlessly from one book to the next.
I adored this book, and as I mentioned earlier have no idea why the film deviated from Dashner’s originally telling. The endless plot twists had me hooked and I devoured this book in a day. I pretty much only stopped reading to tell my film buddies that they need to read it, well that, and you know…food breaks. The only downside I found was Teresa, for me she lacked depth, but I feel that may have been intentional to earn favour for some of the other characters.
Dashner kept me guessing and I like that in a book. The Maze Runner was a bit predictable and convenient at times, but I didn’t find that with The Scorch Trial, the futuristic details were well placed and didn’t appear to be thrown in the push the story along. The characters expand and grow with each shocking twist and revelation, and the new additions bring so much more to the experience. If you enjoyed The Maze Runner, I guarantee The Scorch Trials with have you hooked!
4.5 out of 5