“The Scorch Trials” by James Dashner is the second book in the Maze Runner series. I was hooked from the beginning with the first book so it was with great anticipation that I picked up the second.
SPOILER ALERT: THIS IS THE SECOND BOOK IN THE SERIES; THERE ARE SPOILERS FROM THE FIRST BOOK BELOW. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
In The Maze Runner series, the world is in catastrophe. At the end of the first book we learn a little background on what happened. There was a natural disaster – sun flares – which wiped out a large part of the population. A horrific disease called the flare followed and tore through the remainder of the population. It causes those affected to go insane and turn into zombie-like creatures called Cranks.
After being rescued from the maze, Thomas and the rest of the group are given safe haven. They stuff themselves with food and go to bed feeling safe for the first time in a long time. They awaken the next morning to find that their rescuers are dead and their world is still one where they have to fight to survive. Then they are given instructions – they need to trek across the desert with minimal supplies in order to get to the cure for the flare, which they all have been infected with. Thomas and the rest of the group has just days to make an impossible journey before they start to go insane and become Cranks.
I think what is interesting about this series is how the characters figure out that they are pawns in someone else’s game, but they do not know to what effect. From what they are able to gather at the end of the first book, the maze had a purpose. It is unclear what the variables are that they are a part of, but it doesn’t stop the group from fighting to survive. “They now knew they were being tested somehow, put through WICKED’s trials. In some ways it felt like they should behave differently because of this, and yet they just kept going, fighting, surviving until they could get the promised cure. And that was what they’d keep doing; Thomas was sure of it.” (The Scorch Trials, pg 107).
The fight to survive is what has kept the group Thomas is with alive as long as they’ve been in the WICKED trials. It’s interesting to see how different characters react to different dangerous situations. Some will fight to help each other get through the threat and others will simply fight to protect themselves. Despite the fact that Thomas always tries to play the hero, he does get to points where his own survival is all he can focus on. “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 Scorch Trials, pg 136). I thought this was a very interesting part of the book. To see Thomas drop away his compassion, even for only a few seconds, because of his own animalistic instinct to survive.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, I think that it is a highly enjoyable series. It’s a young adult book and so it is easy to get through. “The Scorch Trials” is quite a page-turner and I think it would appeal to a large variation of readers. I’m looking forward to reading the next book.