BOOK TITLE: The Scorch Trials (The Maze Runner #2)
Author: James Dashner
And so, we meet again. Me reading this second volume of the trilogy proves that once you start an interesting series you cannot go back and MUST find out what happens to those characters you like. And here I am, hoping that Thomas, Minho and Newt are safe and will remain so until the very end. Will that happen? Eh, remains to be seen (Warning, spoilers ahead!)
“He didn’t care about the others anymore. The chaos around him seemed to siphon away his humanity, turn him into an animal. All he wanted was to survive, make it to that building, get inside. Live. Gain another day.”
The book debuts brusquely, showing our main characters in a compound where those who saved them in the previous book took them. Unfortunately, things don’t seem to get any better as they wake up one night and find their saviours panicking because people who are infected with the virus called the flare are just outside their door. The Gladers begin to investigate and while entering Theresa’s room they discover that she is missing and that she has been replaced with a boy named Aris who seems to have gone through a similar experience as the Gladers.
Shortly after this scary and bizarre incident they meet with a man whose nickname is Rat man; he starts to explain what is going on and that they have all been infected with the flare and the only way towards a cure is through the Scorch (obviously some sort of burnt land, desert) and towards some safe haven. But their way to the Scorch is not without danger, they lose two persons on the way before finally getting to the actual Scorch.
Once in the Scorch their purpose becomes more fuzzy as they meet new people on the way, even Theresa, and constantly feel threatened by the Cranks. Thomas’ and Theresa’s relationship changes abruptly and nothing seems to fit in this big puzzle they are all in, not even before the end of the book.
I mostly enjoyed the fact that there is unity and continuity between this book and the first one; it maintains the same vibe and idea and everything is (again) clouded in mystery and each action or inaction of the characters raises a question mark. This book was not at all predictable and I started being surprised when Aris first appeared and when I saw the direction he was going into; I have to say that at first I liked him, but slowly, after a series of events, I started changing my opinion. Another character who was difficult to appreciate was Theresa, who went from hero to zero for me (a slightly spoiler here); the fact that Thomas is one of my favourite character didn’t help due to the fact that their relationship falls to pieces very fast and irreparably if you ask me. Though, that might not be a bad thing after all.
I was also surprised to find that there has been another Maze (spoilers again!) and another group consisting only of girls and one boy, Aris (again, I did not see this coming). There are piles of surprises in this book and I should probably let you discover alone what the others are, but I must say they were a great plus and only made me love the book and the way it was built even more.
The tension is present all through the book, so hold on tight and be patient because getting nearer to the end doesn’t mean that you will get all the explanations you want. Also, the presence of the Cranks is another element that adds flavor; even if basically they become some sort of zombies it is interesting to see that there are different stages of the disease and that the closest to sane people have actually developed a community of their own in different places.
“No. I kind of accepted it, in a way. That saving you was worth losing what we might’ve had.”
Needless to say, my favourite characters are Thomas, Minho and Newt. I think this book proves even more that each of them has an essential role to their little group and that they couldn’t have made it without each other. The moral of the book teaches us how important friendship is and how working together can sometimes save you from what seems an inescapable situation. It also shows the dynamics of a group, dynamics which I think haven’t really changed from the first book. It is surprising to see how misfortune brings people together and how the appropriate persons keep them like this until the end even if sometimes seems to be no hope. The book also proves that even if you see no light at the end of the tunnel you should just push yourself harder and keep going because eventually something is going to show up.
If you already started the series and enjoyed the first book I think that you don’t need another reason to continue, but if you’re still wondering if you should start it – I think that the second book is just as good as the first – that should make up your mind. It is a really interesting dystopia series so far, and even if not all the elements are original (impossible these days really) they are nicely combined and build up a wonderful story with powerful but mysterious characters and a huge question that concerns the whole remaining humankind, so I recommend it to all of you who are thinking of dipping your toe in the “dystopia water” or to those who just want an entertaining read.
Overall rating: 5 stars (a most enjoyable and light read!)
Goodreads link: The Scorch Trials