Review: The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner

4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
I reviewed the first book in this series, The Maze Runner, back in January. I spotted this one in my local library – I wasn’t planning to borrow anything, but I knew I had to pick this one up after enjoying the first so much. So I’m a sucker for YA dystopia.
Picking up right where The Maze Runner left off, The Scorch Trials is a whirlwind experience, once again letting the reader know only what the protagonist does, and moving on so quickly that sometimes it is a little hard to really take things in. The Gladers are safe – or so they think – and there is a real sense of relief. But this doesn’t last long, and soon things are just as crazy as they were in the Maze – however, this time they seem a whole lot worse, without the shelter of the Farm, and the familiar schedule of their daily life there. No walls surrounding them, no gates closing precisely at sundown and keeping the bad things out – just miles and miles of empty, ruined space.

With much more of a post-apocalyptic setting than the previous book, and really a lot darker, this has a sort of Fallout/Borderlands-esque feel to it. There were actually a couple of moments that made me feel a little sick – Dashner cuts off his descriptions of certain events before they get really bad, but when your imagination runs away with you it is hard not to imagine! Also, to me, there is nothing more terrifying than groups of people becoming feral and turning on one another. Sure, the Grievers from the first book were horrible. But people are intelligent (well… mostly), they have emotions, souls. To go from being human, to something truly animalistic, is a scary thought.

I would have preferred a little more of some of the other characters – Minho, Newt etc – but the focus was very much on Thomas and Teresa. There was also a rather shocking moment that, once everything is explained to him, Thomas seems to just accept far too easily. At times the pace of the story was too quick – as with the ending of The Maze Runner – and although quite a lot happened, it didn’t always feel like it.

However, the ending was exciting and I had such a vivid image of the carnage in my head – and it definitely set up for the next book. But it was the same sort of cliffhanger as the first book – the frustrating kind that reveals almost nothing, compared to the kind that gives you just enough information.


Review: The Maze Runner (Maze Runner #1) by James Dashner


5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I started reading this book on an hour long (either way) bus journey that I take once a week, and normally hate. But this time, I wanted the journey to last much longer, so I could carry on reading. I was instantly drawn into the world that Dashner has created – where we know only what Thomas, the main character, knows. As the book progresses, both the reader and Thomas learn more about the world, or perhaps it would be best just to say the Maze. Personally, I found the whole set up pretty cool – each boy works in a different area of the Glade in order to keep the whole thing running smoothly; they have been resourceful where they could have easily just turned into a giant mess.

There is one rather important event that happens about a third into the book, which I managed to guess – seemed rather predictable. The monsters in the Maze, known as Grievers, sound horrific on paper, but when I try to imagine them I seem to get an image of Ros from Monsters Inc. in my head.

>Scary, yes, but for the entirely wrong reasons.

I also believe that a lack of female characters may put some readers off, although this didn’t seem to harm Lord of the Flies, which this book reminds me of in places. Or The Lord of the Rings for that matter… (female characters were extended for the films). Personally, I don’t mind which gender the protagonist is, it completely depends how they act. And Thomas is a very determined young man, who completely acts by gut instinct – and is normally right. The other boys are a motley collection of personalities andĀ appearances, and work nicely together.

As for the writing, it flows very well with chapters frequently ending on cliffhangers or just before revealing crucial points, making it very difficult to say ‘Just one more chapter before I go to bed’, and stick to it… Dashner’s use of slang created for the book works nicely, allowing him to accurately portray these teenagers as teenagers (many YA authors seem to think teenagers never swear?) without being crude or profane.

I almost dropped the book down a star for the ending. It felt rushed and a bit lacklustre, and almost sort of… generic. Like a very repeated formula. But it left me desperately wanting more, and the excitement of the rest of the book definitely made up for it.