Tuesday, May 7, 2013

#CBR5 Review #19: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

The Scorch Trials is the second young adult novel in James Dashner’s “Maze Runner” series. Like the first installment of the series, this novel is predicated on a group of young people placed into a testing situation, with so many questions and few answers.

I’ll try to keep the description brief (and slightly vague?) so as to not spoil anything from The Maze Runner. Also, these novels are the kind that seem as though they’d be better enjoyed if you don’t know what’s coming next:

The Scorch Trials begins in the middle of the night after the boys of the Glade make it out of the maze. They feel as though they have found a safe-haven with the people of WICKED, and yet, things soon go wrong: hallucinations occur, and Thomas loses his connection with Teresa, yet the Gladers gain a new member to their company from another maze that was filled with only girls, known as “Group B”. The boys find themselves surrounded by people called “Cranks” who have been infected with a disease called “the flare,” as well as ominous tattoos across their backs. Finally, the Gladers meet a man who tells them that they are a part of a group of “trials,” that what they see is not necessarily real, and their responses to everything are what WICKED is really interested in. They are then sent out on a journey to cross a barren desert to a “safe-haven” within two weeks time, in order to gain a cure to the flare disease. The boys, of course, have no choice but to comply with this test, and go out into the seemingly deserted world, only to face hardships, violence, and more and more strange questions and circumstances along the way. The boys come to feel as though there is more to their situation than is being told, and that the world may be in a worse state than they realized.

While the tactic of having just little snippets of information that make you want to learn more was used to great effect in The Maze Runner, it fizzles out slightly in The Scorch Trials. There are still some sequences of great action and suspense, but there I found far less interest when it came to characters and their actions in this novel. This might just personal, but some of the relationships that alter throughout the action of this story seem a bit stiff and forced in either direction. Far-less intimate and personal interaction occurs in The Scorch Trials as compared to the initial novel, which may be the culprit in this case.

That, or the theory that “sequels are never as good,” which isn’t always true, but for this work, I would say that this is accurate. And yet, the way the novel ends with another serious cliffhanger, I still want to know what exactly is going on with these young people and the trials they are being put through. Hopefully some answers come soon, because as of yet, not enough pieces have fallen into place for me to really feel satisfied. 

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