Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The Scorch Trials - James Dashner (The Maze Runner #2)

*Contains spoilers from 'The Maze Runners' but not from 'The Scorch Trials'.*

"Guess my mom doesn't have much of a chance if she's ever standing between us and a grocery store." - James Dashner, The Scorch Trials.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner is the second book in The Maze Runner series and it remains true to everything you would expect from a young adult dystopian novel. A plot so unnecessarily complicated that you give up trying to understand anything and blindly accept whatever the author throws at you – Check. Characters who betray each other for unrealistically convenient reasons –Yep, right here! And the dreaded love triangle – yes, Dashner fell prey to the king of cliche’s, Lord of bad plot devices... I could go on.

The Scorch Trials begins hours within the end of The Maze Runner. It is, in the simplest way I can explain it, to The Maze Runner what Catching Fire is to The Hunger Games. The maze which Thomas and his fellow gladers overcome in the previous book is just the first phase of a sinister series of trials conducted by a scientific group called the WICKED. The Scorch Trials follows the gladers across climatically disrupted vast lands of the Earth as they try to escape their captivity all the while on the hunt for a cure of a virus that may or may not be made up (because their memory is still not restored); Like I mentioned before – Complicated. Now add to this mix the possibility of another group just like the gladers who are on the hunt for their blood.

The Scorch Trials are more difficult to complete with an increased chance of dying. And they are also more difficult to explain. The villains in this book are people who are mentally deteriorated because of the flare (aka Zombies), metal balls who try to eat people’s heads off, the sun and the storm. The Scorch Trials are based in the real world instead of a manually constructed arena. This allows the gladers to interact with other people and learn more about WICKED and the flare, which is a disease that spread at epidemic rates during the sun flares which the cause the earth to turn into post apocalyptic dust. (Don’t question the science behind these things). 

The new characters mainly include Aris, Brenda and Jorge and once again, they aren’t fleshed out to their fullest potential and instead only used when vital to the plot. The Scorch Trials, like TMR is plot oriented and on the go from the very first paragraph. Every moment lingers with an anticipating fear of something going wrong, of death, of trying to guess and second guess the creators. James Dashner has definitely improved his writing technique since TMR but a lot of the plot still balances on Thomas’ gut instincts. Dashner creates an empire of a story teetering on a baseless foundation and after a second glance, it crumbles upon him. 

But the question is – is it as good as The Maze Runner? Does it get better or worse? Should I bother reading it? I think anyone who enjoyed The Maze Runner would definitely try out The Scorch Trials and they should too. (They have probably skipped the review and gone straight ahead to the book). The Scorch Trials is a definite improvement to The Maze Runner and despite all its flaws, still very entertaining.

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