Saturday, October 16, 2010

"The Scorch Trials" by James Dashner

Summary: In this sequel to The Maze Runner, Thomas, Teresa, and the other Gladers have finally escaped the Maze.  However, their hope for peace and safety is quickly shattered.  They are given a task: march a hundred miles through a desert wasteland partially inhabited by Cranks--people infected with the Flare.  As Thomas and the other Gladers begin their journey, more pieces of Thomas' history start to come back to him.  What is WICKED?  What is the purpose of these trials and what are the patterns WICKED is looking for?  Are the former Gladers really the key to curing humanity of the Flare?

Musings: I enjoyed the first book in this series, The Maze Runner, even though I found I didn't have a lot to say about the book in the end.  When its sequel arrived at my library yesterday, I had to read a Wikipedia summary of the first book just to remember what had happened.  The Scorch Trials left me similarly; I raced through the book, finishing it quickly, but I don't know if it will remain with me.

Anyone who has read The Maze Runner knows the book is full of unanswered questions.  Thomas and the reader are left in the dark about the purpose of the Maze and the world the Gladers inhabit.  With the boys and Teresa escaped from the Maze in The Scorch Trials, I wondered how the second book would hold up.  However, by immediately stripping away the Gladers' safety and plunging them yet again into a "game" they must solve, Dashner effectively creates just as many--if not more--mysteries than before.  I don't mind the build up of tension, and it certainly makes me want to read the last book, but I'm not sure if any explanation can live up to everything that's happened. (haha, I just saw I said the same thing in my Maze Runner review)

Dashner relies on short chapters, and each contain a cliffhanger ending.  For this reason, the book moves as a fast pace, and the reader, along with the characters, is kept in a constant state of danger and insecurity.  The mood is appropriate for what is happening, but it also can be wearing at times.  It's difficult to become worried about yet another new danger when just about every moment is near deadly.  I would have also liked to see a bit more character development, perhaps among Thomas and great characters like Minho, but there wasn't much time in the "aah, escaping dying!" plot.

The biggest drawback of this book and its predecessor is the sometimes repetitive style.  I should have counted the number of times Thomas "didn't know why, be he trusted/liked this person."  It seemed like a lame way for Thomas and the reader to know things weren't too bad.  Ditto the number of times Thomas was told "it's going to get really bad" or that "he hurt so unbelievably bad."

Still, this series is great for people who like their dystopians with action, excitement, and mystery, if not a lot of real thought.  I'm looking forward to The Death Cure, the concluding book in the trilogy, in October of next year.

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