The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

Goodreads: The Scorch Trials
Series: Maze Runner Trilogy #2

Note: The summary may contain spoilers if you have not finished The Maze Runner.

Summary: Thomas and the other Gladers thought they had found safety after escaping from the Maze.  The world outside, however, has suffered immensely.  Sun flares have burned the earth making it almost uninhabitable and a mysterious disease known as the Flare infects people, turning them into zombie-like creatures who go insane before their inevitable death.  WICKED, the group responsible for placing Thomas and the others in the Glade, fights to find a cheap cure, but their methods are questionable.  The group orders the boys to cross the Scorch, the most devastated part of the planet, in two weeks’ time.   The Gladers long to free themselves from the control of WICKED, but have no choice but to do as they are told if they want even a chance at survival.

Review: Dashner brings to The Scorch Trials all the action, excitement, and mystery of The Maze Runner.  The stakes, however, are higher as the boys have left the relative safety of the Glade, where they understood the rules and the danger.  Now they must face unknown factors in their mission to cross a barren wasteland where the only people left suffer from the Flare.  Suspense builds as the Gladers struggle to understand their role in the race for a cure and try to determine whether or not they will ever truly gain freedom from WICKED.  Betrayals and the stirrings of love add to the emotional drama.  However, in the end, Dashner relies on the same techniques to keep the readers guessing at the true nature of WICKED, leading to a sense that he is merely playing with the audience at this point.  Thomas and the other Gladers have enough information about WICKED to deduce their goal; the real question is not what WICKED is doing, but whether or not they are justified in doing it the way they are.  The trilogy has much potential to raise important questions about ethics and morality, and whether or not the ends can ever justify the means, but Dashner has yet to suggest he means to address them.  If the trilogy is ever to rise above a merely entertaining story, it must tear itself away from the action to address the human elements.

Published: 2010

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