The Scorch Trials
By James Dashner
Paperback, 360 pages
2010, Delacorte Press
This is the second book in the Maze Runner series (my review of book one here). I don’t really want to go into the plot for the sake of avoiding spoilers – but I’ll say that it starts where book one left off and Thomas and his crew are put through further torturous trials and we’re left with another cliffhanger to propel us into book three.
What I liked:
I’m still enjoying the plot and the world that Dashner has created. I’ve recently been a big fan of YA dystopia and Dashner’s ideas still seem fresh to me (as far as the methods used to test and torture these kids – obviously teens being put through trials and impossible situations is nothing new). I still had a lot of fun reading this book. This series isn’t earth-shattering in quality or concept, but it reads almost like an action movie, so it’s easy to picture what’s happening. I enjoy Dashner’s cliffhanger chapter endings because each time I had to stop reading
because the rest of my life got in the way I was always left wondering what the hell was going to happen next. I’m also intrigued by the deadly technology Dashner keeps creating and I’m wondering if he’ll ever delve into how any of it came to be. I’m really hoping “lots of money” won’t be the blanket answer for that. As with Maze Runner, I think the book moves at a good pace and I was able to whip through it.
+ Vocabulary alert + Dashner uses the word frenziedly, which I honestly didn’t think was a word. But Merriam-Webster confirmed it’s an adverb, so there you go!
What I didn’t like:
When I started Maze Runner, I knew very little about the series. I was instantly sucked into Dashner’s world, breezed through the book and had a great time. Now that I know more about what’s going on, I actually had some standards for this book. Sadly, I don’t think the book (or the writing) developed as strongly as I’d hoped. The books are told from the third person, but following Thomas, so I understand the focus is on him. But I expected some of the other characters to be developed, especially Teresa. In Maze Runner, it’s clear the two have a connection, but it remains a mystery for them to develop. In Scorch Trials we’re told they have a connection and suddenly there’s this weird bond/relationship between the two of them. But as far as romantic subplots goes, it’s lacking. It seems like Thomas just suddenly decided he loves her…sort of.
We’re introduced to a few new characters too, primarily Brenda and Jorge. They’re basically cardboard. Jorge is a weak opposition to Thomas’s leadership for about two seconds and Brenda is supposed to be a love interest (?). Brenda has even less personality than Teresa (again, I expected her to really shine in this book) but suddenly Thomas has an instant connection with her too and spends some time debating between the two females. It all felt very pointless. My other issue was that it seemed Thomas was telling his entire life story to everyone he came across.
“Thomas hesitated at first, but he knew he had to tell them everything.”
I swear, this happens three or four times in the book, almost verbatim. It’s a pointless way of catching the rest of the cardboard cast up on what’s been happening to Thomas and his Glader friends. When it came to the characters and relationships in this book, everything was told, rather than shown. I found myself just waiting for the next action scene so I could feel some excitement again.
I didn’t enjoy this book the way I did Maze Runner. Scorch Trials is still a good book, and I’m eager to see where Dashner takes me in the conclusion, The Death Cure, as well as the prequel, The Kill Order. I’m nowhere near giving up on the series, I just wish Dashner’s writing had progressed the characters instead of just the action.