Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Scorch Trials (James Dashner)

I have had a great week supply teaching and some of my days even included a bit of prep time (or at least a quiet lunch break) that were ideal reading times.  I also think it's important to add in this post that in the elementary classes I was in this week, I saw "The Maze Runner" (the first book of this series) in the hands of at least three students.

I discovered this series of books by James Dashner after reading The Hunger Games.  I enjoyed The Hunger Games so much that I wanted to find another series that was similar. The first book in this series was The Maze Runner, which I had said I enjoyed, just not as much as The Hunger Games!  (I think the key here is to not compare it to The Hunger Games, since they are about entirely different things.)  I started The Scorch Trials, not entirely sure what to expect out of it after the ending of book one, but I really enjoyed it.  

Thomas and the rest of the 'shanks' who survived from his life in the Maze (see description of The Maze Runner!) are in a new facility.  While they think that they are finally free of this life of chaos, they are forced again to take part in a trial for WICKED (the World in Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department).  In this book, the boys have a new member thrown on them (Aris) and in two weeks, they must make it 100 miles north through this desert.  Along the way, they meet (and must fight) Cranks, people who have the "Flare" and are basically crazy in the head, as well as a second group of girls who have been going through similar experiments and trials.  There are a variety of "variables" in this trial, so different individuals have different motives throughout the journey.

It sounds weird, but it was really exciting.  The descriptions are wonderful and you can picture everything that is happening along the journey.  Along with 'seeing' the landscapes and the people, Dashner does a great job of making you really feel the emotions that Thomas is feeling throughout the book. 

This is the second book in a series that currently has 4 books, one of which is to be released this summer.  I've been trying to decide if this book could be a standalone book, or if it should be read after the first book.  I think this book is better read in the order it was intended.  While there are some reminders in this book of things that occurred in The Maze Runner, I think a lot of the terminology and experiences that happened in the first book would make you enjoy The Scorch Trials that much more.  

Similar to the last book, it leaves you satisfied at the end, but more so this time, I just want to pick up the third book, The Death Cure, and start it right away.  I would recommend this book, especially for the Young Adult and teen audience.  (And I'll add that after talking to a student at one school this week, the teens are enjoying this series as well!)

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