James Dashner, Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2010, 360 pages, young adult dystopian.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.
In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.
Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.
The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.
Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?
This is quite a book, so full of action and crazy horrible situations that it doesn't let you relax for a second. I kept thinking that Dashner has created a diabolical dystopian Lord of the Flies scenario, filled with tension and mystery as well as brutal situations of survival.
The Scorch Trials takes place immediately where The Maze Runner left off; however, this time, Teresa has been taken away and replaced with another boy, named Aris, who explains that he was in an opposite Maze situation - all girls and he was the only boy. The Gladers quickly realize that their trials are not over, as they thought when they escaped from the Maze. They are told by a mysterious man that they have another trial to endure, they have to make their way over 100 miles of scorched earth, passed Cranks, who are people who have gone crazy from being infected with the Flare, a disease that they have been told that they are infected with. If they do not make it to the appointed spot in 2 weeks, they will be left to succumb to the disease.
This book is full of excitement and the horror of the boys battling the elements, trying to save their friends, fighting thirst and starvation, and fighting the Cranks. The Cranks turn out to be fairly intelligent, zombie like beings and definitely add to the element of terror. Then there are killer thunder and lightening storms, scorching heat, and the constant threat of starvation.
Dashner does a great job of building a chaotic, brutal and dying world in this book. The characters are confused and in the dark about what is going on, and the readers are only slightly more knowledgeable. It is so difficult to imagine in what kind of world creating a scenario where kids are killed off by monsters in order to collect data is a good idea. Even with more knowledge than the characters, as a reader I felt their betrayal, fear and frustration.
I really enjoyed Thomas in this book. He is so passionate and wanting to help his friends that I can' t help but like him. I could feel for him in his confusion about Teresa and then Brenda and his flashbacks and dreams give him an interesting dimension. I was also happy to see some of my favorite Gladers back as I am enjoying the dynamic between the boys.
I think this book will really appeal to teens who like thriller and horror books, as well as books of survival. Some of the scenes are quite vivid and gruesome. The third in this trilogy, The Death Cure, is due out October 11 of this year. I can hardly wait to get my hands on it!