Title: The Scorch Trials
Author: James Dashner
Genre: YA dystopian fiction
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: She spoke to him before the world fell apart.
Spoiler alert: If you haven’t read The Maze Runner yet, don’t read this review, as it will contain spoilers for that book. However, it won’t contain spoilers for The Scorch Trials.
The end of The Maze Runner finds Thomas, Teresa, Newt, Minho, and the other surviving Gladers thinking that they have passed the test of The Maze and they are now safe. While still grieving over the loss of Chuck, Thomas is hopeful that the worst is over. We, as readers, though, have the epilogue, which tells us that all is not what it seems, and their rescuers are not the beneficent helpers they claim to be.
Thomas has less than one night of peace and comfort before his world is again ripped apart – first of all with the disappearance of Teresa, not only from his physical proximity, but from his mind: his ability to speak telepathically with her is gone. The Gladers find out that they are part of the organization WICKED’s plan – a plan that they are told will result in the salvation of mankind. But first they must pass the Scorch Trials, which involves crossing a burned-out, devastated area of land known as the Scorch. Not only is it sun-beaten and baked, but it is inhabited by Cranks, people infected with a disease known as The Flare. The Cranks descend through increasing levels of madness, eventually becoming cannibalistic animals. Can the Gladers survive? What happened to Teresa? And is WICKED really wicked – or are they mankind’s only hope?
Oh. my. gosh. I spent Saturday and Sunday devouring The Scorch Trials. (Don’t worry, I made sure my family was cared for.) This is a dark book. Of course, The Maze Runner was dark, but this one is darker – and has many, many edge of your seat moments. There are also a lot of plot points that had me scratching my head, wondering how much Thomas can possibly handle and what WICKED’s aims could be in throwing all of these obstacles in the way of the Gladers.
Dashner has created a truly terrifying world (the Cranks made my skin crawl), and put a character in the middle of this world that you can’t help but root for. Thomas has these flashes of memory that tell him that he is part of WICKED, but how much of a part? Can he trust them? Are they good or evil? And if they’re evil – what is he?
I really debated between four and five stars for this book. Not because it’s not a terrific page-turner of a read – it is! – but because I kept wondering how he will bring it all together in the final book. How will each test the Gladers face be an authentic part of WICKED’s plan? Will it make sense in the end? But then I thought it wasn’t fair to judge this book based on my expectations for book three, and this book has all the things I look for in a 5-star book: terrific characters, a plot that keeps me turning pages, and issues that make me think long after I close the book.
So, a 5-star read it is. But, Mr. Dashner, the bar for book three has been set very high! And, please, don’t make us wait too long.