2013 Reads: Seven {The Scorch Trials - James Dashner}

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Scorch Trials begins right where The Maze Runner left off. Really, right where it left off. It's kinda surreal in a way, as most of the time a second book in a series starts some time after the first book. But that's just not how James Dashner does things (I still giggle when I think about his last name, Dashner...The Maze Runner. It's still hilarious to me).

But, you guys?! This book!? It's so much better than  The Maze Runner. Don't get me wrong. I loved The Maze Runner. I really did. It had it's issues, but I completely enjoyed it and wanted to get onto book two so quickly! But this book fixes most of the problems I had with it's predecessor: it's less predictable, it changes and evolves constantly, the relationships between the characters grows and strains and develops, and the plot is more complex than The Maze Runner

So, here's the deal: Thomas and the rest of the Gladers thought that once the Maze was over, everything was over and they would begin a "normal" life. Perhaps with their memories back, perhaps with their families, but at least without being under WICKED's thumb. No more maze, no more running, and no more variables. They couldn't have been more wrong. 

The world outside the maze has been mostly destroyed by solar flares. A waste land of dry, arid, and brutal climate extents around the world roughly where the equator lies. This land is called the "Scorch," and it is to the scorch that Thomas, his fellow Gladers, and the girls of Group B are sent (though not together). Governments have fallen apart and people have become infected by a deadly virus called the "Flare" - a disease that affects the brain of a human, causing their body to deteriorate and their minds to drift away. What is left of a person who has gone too far with the flare is called a "Crank" - a murderous, cannibalistic, shell of a human being whose sole purpose in life is to survive. Those infected with the Flare are sent to the Scorch to live out their remaining days. 

After spending a few days in a dorm-like facility, Theresa is taken away from them and replaced with a boy named Aris. Soon the boys are presented with the task: leave the dorm and travel across the Scorch, 100 miles North and find the Safe Haven. There is their salvation, the tests will finally be over. Thy just have to survive that long. 

What ensues is a series of griping adventures, a trip through the heart of the Scorch, new friendships formed, ultimate betrayals, and a fight for the lives of all that Thomas knows and holds dear. WICKED has stacked the odds as far against the Gladers as they possibly can, nothing will come easy to them. And through it all Thomas is trying to piece together his memories and figure out who he is and what his role is in the whole thing. All he knows is that, no matter what his past and his memories may reveal to him, he wants nothing to do with WICKED ever again.

This book was intense. Really, really intense.

I got it in audio book format, just like I did with The Maze Runner and again I'm glad I did that. I think there were parts I wouldn't have read as closely as you're forced to when you're listening to someone tell you a story. That's mostly for the gruesome, gory parts that this series tends to have. But I'm glad I got to completely experience them, because they're part of what makes this book feel so real to me throughout. Like this could actually happen to us and our world.

I think that this book had a lot of strengths, but for me the major one is that it kept me guessing the whole way through. I never quite had the next step figured out. I understood where they were going, but had no idea how they were going to get there or what would happen along the way.

I also really appreciated the character development in this book. I feel like in The Maze Runner a bit of the characterization fell flat because the characters were in a very controlled, repetitive setting. The Maze had its rules, the Glade had its rules, and the Characters were expected to adhere to them and behave in a certain, organized way. In The Scorch Trials every sense of organization was thrown to the wind and it became entirely about survival: of the individual and of the group. There was never a point where it was about only one person's survival. The group mentality was alive and well, but to a protective and useful means. They began to question the motives of new people (Aris, Brenda, etc) and those whom they thought they knew well (Theresa). As they realized they knew nothing, they began to take every moment of interaction seriously. The Gladers stuck together, Group B stuck together. They were wary of each other (and justifiably so!) and were unwilling to let things slide. It made their interactions so interesting.

It's rare that a second book in a series is better than the first. But for me? This book totally outshines The Maze Runner.

Have you read these books? What do you think about them? 

Title: The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2)
Author: James Dashner
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy
Medium: Audio Book
# of Disks: 9 Disks
Date Read: 4 February 2013
Source: Borrowed From the Library 
First Line: She spoke to him before the world fell apart. 
Favorite Line: He turned to look just in time to see the rain start falling outside, as if the storm had finally decided to weep with shame for what it had for what it had done to them.
Last Line: That's all for now. [whited out, for spoiler's sake]
Recommended: Yes, very yes.
Recommended For: Middle School +, Those who read The Maze Runner, Dystopian lovers, NOT for those with a weak stomach
Challenges: Goodreads

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