The Scorch Trials
by James Dashner
9780385738767, $9.99, Delacorte Press (Random House)
This is the second book in the Maze Runner trilogy. You can read my review of Book 1, titled The Maze Runner, here.
They thought the battle was over when they left the maze, but it soon becomes clear they’ve only moved on to stage 2 of these twisted games, designed to test the Gladers beyond their already stretched limits. Thomas wakes up on the morning after their “rescue” to find Teresa gone, a new boy in her place, and the Gladers in a panic as Cranks try to break into their enclosure.
Cranks are zombie-like creatures that have been infected with a disease the Gladers later find out has infected the world. The new boy, Aris, says he’s from Group B – a group of all girls, except for him. Oh, and Aris can speak in Thomas’s mind, just like Teresa. Slowly Thomas and the Gladers piece together that there are two groups out there, and they’re both competing for the same prize: The Gladers are told they’ve all been infected by the disease, but if they make it from point A to point B in the allotted amount of time, they will be given a cure.
Sounds simple enough until they’re plunged into total blackness where they can’t see the deathly beheading orbs, then shocked by the almost constant sunlight battering down on them as they struggle to run across a desert, all with dwindling food and water resources. Lightning and rain storm burns them while they run toward a city – toward friend or foe, they’re not sure, but they know they need to get out of the killing rain. In the city they meet Brenda and Jorge who promise to lead them safely through the Crank-infested city in exchange for the antidote, but first the group gets separated and both factions have to battle their way toward their destination point.
Less gruesome than The Maze Runner though still deadly, The Scorch Trials, puts Thomas, and all the characters, through a more bitter emotional journey, complete with deception, betrayal, and dreams/flashbacks Thomas has to a strange time and place that almost make it seem like he might have had a hand in creating all of this torture. But for what greater purpose? Who can he trust? And as before, he has to wonder what Teresa means when she mind-speaks to him, “WICKED is good.”