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Book Cover Image: The Scorch Trials by James DashnerTitle: The Scorch Trials
Author: James Dashner
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):

“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?”

Thoughts: The Scorch Trials is James Dashner’s second in the Maze Runner series. Picking up where the first novel ends, the reader is immediately thrust back into Thomas’ world. As an added twist, all involved, the reader and the characters, know that the kids are being tested. This knowledge makes the entire novel more intense as the reader tries to stay one step ahead of Thomas regarding the overarching riddle.

If anything, The Scorch Trials is more action-packed and suspenseful than The Maze Runner. The advanced knowledge about the on-going trial and the small portions of information about the state of the current world make the boys’ actions more meaningful. In addition, the reader spends a majority of the time trying to solve the riddle alongside Thomas. While Thomas may not be aware, the reader is definitely cognizant of the fact that Thomas knows more about the continuing tests and ultimate solution than he remembers. Watching this knowledge trickle down from the recesses of his memory only heightens the drama.

From a scientific standpoint, The Scorch Trials brings up some amazing questions that anyone with research experience is anxious to resolve. Does knowing that one is involved in a life-or-death trial adversely or positively impact the results? Would the kids act differently had the information about the Flare remained a secret? Are those monitoring the trials ultimately skewing the results by interfering? One can only hope that these gray areas, which became relatively obvious as the story progressed, are addressed in the third novel.

The Scorch Trials is frustrating, infuriating, exhilarating and exciting. Poor Thomas continues to bear the brunt of the action and focus during the trials. There is obviously a reason for this special treatment, and while there are hints, the truth is still too hidden to discern it completely. As this is the reader’s first true exposure to the world outside of the Maze, one does not have a good grasp on this world to be able to predict anything that may happen. This anticipation makes the wait for the third novel seem endless!

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