Friday, 17 October 2014

The Scorch Trials


Book Title: The Scorch Trials
Author: James Dashner
Series: The Maze Runner #2
Date Started: October 11th 2014
Date Completed: October 17th 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Thriller, Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Mystery
Rating: Three stars

I did enjoy The Scorch Trials, but after being told the series definitely picked up after the first book, I was quite disappointed in the end. I expected something that would explain the previous book, as well as introducing new conflicts and mysteries to conclude the series, but it seemed less eventful that The Maze Runner. I preferred the previous book, personally, but even so I'm looking forward to the last instalment in the series.

After surviving the Maze Trials, Thomas and the Gladers think they're finally found safety, but when they wake up from their haven to an empty building and a new addition to their group, it seems that perhaps their fight for their freedom isn't quite over. Now they must face the Scorch and its monsters if they want to finally be out of the clutches of WICKED.

Dashner has never been my favourite writer, and the style isn't really overwhelming improved for the second book. The main problem I had was both the overuse of slang that made the narration just seem childish, and the rushed plot. It seemed like everything is made up as it goes along and so there's a lot of little bits that don't get cleared up and it's very disjointing as a reader. (Admittedly this does compliment atmosphere of the book obviously, but it becomes very frustrating after a bit.)

I really enjoyed the start and end of the book, but the middle was quite hard for me to go along with. I really like having either drastic mystery or quite plausible events, and for me The Scorch Trials just didn't have enough sense made from what happened, and not enough unknown for it to be exciting. (I also found the set-up of the 'experiment' quite questionable and not really developed enough to end up getting results anyway.) The continuous problem from this was really that none of what happened was really significant to the overall story, and we ended up in a very similar place at the end as we were at the beginning.
In addition, I forgot that there was a threat for most of the story, as everything was quite conveniently worked out. The boys either got something wrong and gave up to move onto something else, or solved problems very quickly and events moved on too quickly. The Scorch didn't have any lasting affects on the Gladers; the Cranks weren't really that much of an issue, and WICKED itself seemed very detached from the overall story. I think a lot of this happened because things weren't explained or featured enough for me to understand the impact they could possibly have on the characters.
climax was good, but the ending annoyed me

For me, the best parts - and the main thing that keeps bringing me back to the stories - are the characters. Though of course they kill have their flaws, their personalities are interesting, and their development arcs are what really drive the book.
Thomas, though a good protagonist, can sometimes be an idiot. On the other hand, I do actually enjoy a hero that doesn't ever really know what he's doing, and genuinely acts on his instincts and often gets things wrong. It's become quite common to have heroes that are unsure and mess up, but Dashner makes Thomas really seem he's only going on what he guess.
Newt is definitely my favourite character of the book. Though he isn't in it much, I think he's made to stand out from the rest of the characters and his attitude to the others is a nice relief from the typical doomed conversations. Minho's definitely another of my favourites, but I did feel he was a bit neglected and dismissed as the leader.
I was also a bit underwhelmed with Teresa's inclusion, as I didn't really see the point of it. This went for the new inclusions of Brenda and Jorge: I think they'll become more key to the story in the future, but at the moment we aren't given enough information or time around them to know what they're like.

I was able to get through this book very quickly, mainly due to the writing, but the fast-paced story definitely helped. On the other hand, I didn't really think anything was focused on for long enough to really get into the moment and appreciate the events, so by the end it didn't feel like a whole lot had happened.

Even though I'm not a huge fan of Dashner's writing or the plot lines of this series, the characters really draw the interest back in for me. Even so, there's a nice different kind of concept for dystopians and adventure than to what I think we're used to these days. This isn't the kind of series you can read in any order, and it's the kind of thing where, even if you don't particularly enjoy the main duration, you still really want to know what happens next.

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