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James Dashner's 'The Scorch Trials': A Review

Updated on June 21, 2012

Pages: 360

Rating: ***

Right after I finished 'The Hunger Games', I was sent a list of book recommendations detailing similar titles that I might enjoy. Normally, I would disregard these lists, but I decided to take a chance and scroll through it and see what it had to offer. The only one on the list that caught my attention was 'The Maze Runner'. I noticed how many people had raved about the story and made a mental note to check it out myself. The next day, I found a huge display of James Dashner novels that had literally been picked clean. The only book left was 'The Scorch Trials' the sequel to 'The Maze Runner'. Thinking it more than a coincidence, I bought the book. Maybe I read a little too much into the situation, but I'm glad I followed my instinct.

The story opens with Tom, a young man who just escaped a vicious scientific experiment known as the maze. This experiment threw everything from mind control to mechanical monsters at our team of lab rats. Many test subjects died as a result from the experiments, and those who survived are all deceived into thinking they've finally found a safe haven. However, when the group known as WICKED steps in, the survivors realize that the experiments have really just begun. Tom and his crew are informed that they have all been infected with a debilitating brain disease called the Flare. The Flare is a horrible biological weapon that attacks the brain and strips the victim of common sense, reason and memory. Reducing it's prey to violent, cannibalistic creatures that only act on the basic human needs. WICKED informs them that the maze was designed to further study the effects of the Flare on the brain. As part of the experiment, the crew is instructed to traverse one hundred miles of sweltering wastelands known as the Scorch. At the end of the trek, is a compound that houses a cure for the Flare. It seems easy enough, but the elements, the infected and a few well placed WICKED employees all stand in the way of salvation. Tom continues to fight his way to safety as the body count continues to rise. Who can Tom truly trust? More importantly, what treacheries await him in the Scorch? And is there really a cure?

Let me start by saying you absolutely need to read 'The Maze Runner' before you pick up 'The Scorch Trials'. I knew it was a sequel, so I won't hold that against Dashner. If it's a book you've already started, hang in there! It's incredibly confusing at first, But I promise things start coming together. Tom is a good choice for a lead character. With an inner fighting spirit that won't die, he becomes an underdog which we can root for. Even during the moments where Tom seems unsure of himself, he's still easy to identify with. Dashner tries hard to set the kids apart as a community of their own, but their lingo is so annoying. . .'shuck','klunk' and 'good that!' show up so many times that calling them repetitive is an understatement! Aimed at younger readers, this work of fiction doesn't lack in action, violence or blood. While I would think the book is too graphic for young readers, twelve and up would seem appropriate by my standards. The book is slow and confusing until the puzzle pieces fall into place. Once it does, it's completely engaging and fascinating. Don't be fooled by anyone saying this series is like 'The Hunger Games', as it's nowhere close. Honestly, it seems more like a tamed 'Resident Evil' type of story. Our heroes fight against humans driven mad by infection while trying to escape hostile environments. I'm going to award the novel with three stars. Twisting plots, interesting characters and creativity stand tall, but repetitive language holds the book back. By all means, get your klunk together, get the shuck of your couch and check out 'The Maze Runner' series. Good that!

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, Book 2)
The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, Book 2)

The second entry into the 'Maze Runner' series can be found here!

 

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