Book Review: The Scorch Trials (James Dashner)

Details:
Publisher: Chicken House

Pages: 359

Release Date: 2010

Summary (From Goodreads):
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?
Review:
I’m not going to say too much about this book. I’m reading them all because it’s rare that I don’t finish a book/series, and there is a part of me (the bit that’s also a sucker for punishment) that wants to find out what happens in the end. But the more I read the more I feel like I’m not going to get any satisfying answers.

After escaping the Maze the Gladers find themselves back in another WICKED’s trials (or ‘games’) only this time it’s a lot less interesting than the Maze.

I do like the idea of the Flare, a kind of zombie like disease that eats away at the brain until all emotions and rationality is gone. It’s like giving the zombie genre a medical background and I think it’s a good idea. I just don’t like the story that goes with it.

The characters are still pretty flat and boring, Thomas and Teresa especially, while the others tend to blend into the background a lot (seriously, how many times does someone die and Thomas says it was a boy whose name he didn’t know/had never spoken to?) Thomas spends a huge portion of the book sleeping or passing out and is constantly being the ‘Chosen One’ without ever really doing anything special.

I didn’t like the love triangle type relationship that forced its way in with the introduction of Brenda. I didn’t like that Brenda and Teresa were constantly being described as ‘probably as tough as any of the boys’ as if girls can’t be tough in their own right without being compared to boys, who are obviously all tough (read with massive amounts of sarcasm). The whole betrayal thing at the end didn’t fool me at all, and I was really annoyed when it was explained away by saying that WICKED just wanted Thomas to feel betrayed. None of their explanations make sense!

This is going a bit ranty so I’ll draw it to an end. There’s plenty of action and intrigue in this book, but not enough character or, quite frankly, sense. The vague explanations of the Variables and patterns and what not just leave me feeling sceptical more than anything. It all seems like it’s trying very hard to be mysterious and I feel there’s not going to be a great pay off at the end.
My Verdict: