Not only am I a sucker for the dystopian literature genre, but combine that with a young adult series and you’ve got me hooked! After reading the first of James Dashner’s newest series, The Maze Runner, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second. The first book ends with nothing less than the epitome of a cliffhanger that leaves the reader clinging to the side of the mountain, scrambling and clambering to keep a hold on the ledge until book two shows up! Well, book two showed up two days ago and I instantly morphed into a mountain goat, doing nothing but climb that rocky ledge as the story continued, forgoing both homework and housework to find out what lies around each turn of the page.
In this second book, Thomas is back, along with his allies from The Glade. Their rescue and relief at the end of the first novel is short-lived and they are soon placed in the middle of another experiment run by the shady group called WICKED. This time, rather than being in the confined and controlled spaces of a maze, the group is given a final destination, promised “safe haven” upon arrival at that point and told they have two weeks to get from point A to point B.
Of course, completing this task was not a mere matter of sticking out their thumbs and hitching a ride the one hundred miles, but rather a painful, and for some, deadly, trek across the burned wasteland left behind after sun flares destroyed everything on earth between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer.
Along the way, the motley assembly of adolescents faces obstacles that are unimaginable, even after what they went through in the Glade. But worse than the deformed humans suffering the ravages of the Flare (Cranks), the mind games that WICKED plays on the kids leaves them in a position where no one knows who to trust, no one knows who is working for the mystery agency or even which side is good and which is evil. More than once, messages are relayed saying the “WICKED is good.” But is it? Throughout the book, the basic tenants of their individual personalities, their beliefs and their friendships are suddenly called into question.
Like many series, the first book, The Maze Runner, sets a high bar, as it creates a new world, populated with interesting characters and unique situations. Subsequent books have to keep up the energy and excitement of the first, but at the same time somehow deepen the conflict and relationships within its pages. In this trilogy, the follow up, The Scorch Trials, does an admirable job living up to the expectations. I couldn’t stop turning pages, eager to find out what was to become of this group of hardy survivors and the manipulative government agency that controls them. As I wait for the third and final installment in this trilogy, again clinging to the edge of the cliff I was tossed over by the end of book two, James Dashner’s The Scorch Trials earns: