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The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, Book 2) Paperback – September 13, 2011
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Questions for James Dashner
Q: Where was the worst place you’ve ever been lost or trapped? Did you use Thomas-like ingenuity to figure out the problem?
A: Interesting you should ask that, because The Maze Runner saved my life last Halloween! Ok, not really, but close. My son and I went to a corn maze, and we got lost and stuck. It made me realize how mean I am to my characters! I hadn’t been thinking when we entered and I have to be honest, I wasn’t paying attention. I didn’t think I’d get lost in a Halloween corn maze! But as soon as we realized that we had no idea how to get out I used the trick Thomas learned in the first book--turning right no matter what--and sure enough, we got out. I have a lot more respect for corn mazes now!
Q: The Maze Runner has been compared to other popular YA series like The Hunger Games and The Uglies. What do you think of those series? (And what do you think the draw is to post-apocalyptic societies for YA readers?)
A: First, let me start by saying that I love both of those series a lot! I think everyone is attracted to the idea of a post-apocalyptic society because it’s fascinating to imagine what the future could hold, and scary to know that maybe, just maybe, it could really happen. Although we hope not. Or do we?
Seriously, though, there’s so much that teens today have to deal with. Life isn’t as simple as it used to be with media everywhere at all times. And our country has been at war for a huge part of most teenagers’ lives. It’s a reality that kids face these days, and to see that life could go on could be almost reassuring.
Q: How did you come up with the shuckin’ Gladers’ slang? And have you ever accidentally used it in real life?
A: The slang had several purposes, but mainly it was to give the Gladers' language a different flavor. To show how a community can evolve. Not only is it in the future, but they've been isolated as well.
And on a more realistic note, an unsupervised group of boys would definitely be using language that could begin to take over the story itself. I wanted it to be realistic, but not a glossary of bad language. It would have become limiting for the book in terms of readership and, well, I’m a parent!
Q: What made you decide on a solar flare as a catastrophe (vs. all the other apocalyptic scenarios)?
A: I have to admit, I’m somewhat of an apocalypse buff. When I first started working on The Maze Runner I read an article somewhere about solar flares and I was fascinated. Not only were they a unique idea back then, but it seems completely plausible. Solar flares are natural occurrences, and the cycle for larger flares is again approaching. We’ll be seeing larger flares that really do affect things like communication and space travel. I just took things a little farther.
I also didn't want it to be a nuclear holocaust because I think that's overdone. And it doesn’t seem like we’ll need something that violent anymore to cause our own end. We’ve done a great job of making Mother Nature pretty angry!
Q: One thing that always bugged me: Why couldn’t the Gladers climb up and run around on top of the walls? (At least during the day.)
A: There's a part where Thomas asks Minho about that actually. Minho answers that they've tried it and can't get up that far. The maze has a lot of illusion and technology to make it seem bigger than it is. And I wanted the reader to imagine a maze with walls so high that you could never get to the top.
Q: I’ve heard that The Maze Runner might be made into a movie. If it is, what would you like fans of the book to see up there on the screen? Sometimes literary elements can be lost in translation to film--what’s important for you to remain unchanged?
A: I would love to see a movie made! My biggest hope would be that they cast it well, write it well, and really transfer the mystery of it to the big screen, not just the action. Not much to ask, right?
Q: There are a lot of scenes in the first two books with very graphic violence and death both against and initiated by teenagers--why did you choose to make the brutality so prevalent in a YA series?
A: There is a lot of violence, yes. Next question?
Really, though--I wanted to show what a brutal world it has become, and what a desperate situation the Gladers’ are in, so the reader can understand the stakes. If everything is safe, why would the boys want to leave? I also wanted to blur the lines of what is acceptable to survive in such an environment. We’ve been interested in the idea of survival for as long as we’ve been telling stories. And in modern culture, we’ve gone from Swiss Family Robinson, to Lord of the Flies, to Lost...if there’s no law anymore, who’s to say what’s right and wrong?
Q: You ended The Scorch Trials with a cliffhanger to rival the ending of The Empire Strikes Back. What sorts of things can your readers look forward to in The Death Cure?
A: I just turned in the third book, and I'm very proud of it and excited about it. Every last question is resolved, you see much more of the real world, and the ending is not what people may expect but I'm confident they'll be satisfied with the resolution. And lots of twists and action of course!
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up–This dystopian novel begins where The Maze Runner (Delacorte, 2009) ends. Thomas and the rest of the group's escape from the Maze and the horrifying creatures called Grievers has proven to be short-lived because WICKED, the group behind it all, has another trial in store for them. Sun flares have destroyed most of the Earth, and a virus called the Flare has ravaged its population. Infected people turn into zombies called Cranks that attack and eat one other. The kids are told that they have the Flare but if they succeed in surviving the second trial, they will be cured. With few supplies, they must travel across 100 miles of hot and scorched land within two weeks to reach a safe house to receive the cure. When Teresa, Thomas's best friend and the only girl in the group, disappears, and he loses the ability to communicate telepathically with her, he and the other guys determine to find her. As they trek across the barren desert encountering crazed Cranks, the teens' loyalty to one another and the group is tested. The fast-paced narrative and survival-of-the-fittest scenario is reminiscent of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008). Although these characters aren't quite as compelling and their made-up slang takes a little getting used to, each character's personality is distinct. The unresolved ending will leave readers impatiently waiting for the conclusion to the trilogy.–Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
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Those who made it out of the maze in the previous book are on the run again. With new terrain to negotiate and new monsters to battle, they work together to stay alive. Thomas longs to know Teresa's true motives, but it doesn't hinder his ability to contribute to the group. All you know is that whatever you think you know probably isn't true, and you are never safe.
The series is still holding my interest. The relationships are believable and the trials are WICKED. I'm exhausted just reading about them. I hope we finally start getting real answers in the next book, I have plenty of guesses.
I can't say whether the beginning of this book did or didn't hook me. If anything my love for the first book kept me reading this one. After I got over that, though, the book began to unravel. Their were random events that didn't make sense, all of a sudden Theresa was gone, and we were "told" EVERYTHING that was about to happen in the book. I wasn't sure at the time, but this ended up being the case.
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
II. The Characters: Could I Relate to Them?
Not really. In the first book we had character studies of all the main characters, but in this book Thomas (somehow) doesn't know all the people he's with. Wasn't the Glade pretty small, how could he have not interacted with everyone? I was never really able to get over that, but I moved on.
There is absolutely no character development in this book. We are given the same Thomas from book one, the same Minho (add in a leadership role), a slightly different Theresa, and a bunch of other people that didn't matter. Whereas I cared what happened to the Gladers in the first book, the characters I loved most (i.e. Alby and Chuck) were gone, so it really didn't matter to me.
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
III. The Plot: Was It Well Paced?
I could say yes, but I don't know how accurate that would be. I will say I read this book in one sitting, but I ended up skimming the last 30 pages. This book starts off with a little bit of promise, and then event after event plays out. That's honestly what this book felt like, like the writer was "ticking off" events he wanted to cover before moving on.
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
IV. World Building: Did I "Get" It?
Not at all. So the Scorch Trial is them crossing a 100 mile desert...that's it. Not to mention the tunnel they crawl through with the death balls and the evil lightning in the desert. All of that should have had any eerie feel, a sense of impending doom that made me eager to see what happened next; that didn't happen though.
Where as book one gives vivid descriptions of the world around them, this book is more focused on the action (or lack thereof). I understand the desert was hot, but after a few pages there was no more mention of it. With all that walking you'd think they'd have blisters at the end of the night, be tired and sun weary, but we really aren't told.
This book was seriously one big letdown.
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V. The Ending: Did It Make Sense?
I honestly don't know. While I did technically "read" this book, I skimmed the last 30 pages. After that, I read some dialogue and the message at the end. That's it. I did see something about "things" with extra arms and the desert opening up, but I honestly couldn't bring myself to care.
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
This book was the biggest letdown. I often found myself wondering if this book was from another series. It was 100% unlike the first book. I know the second books in series are not always better than the first, but this was ridiculous. We had a journey explained in accurate detail before it happened, no descriptions and random deaths of people we didn't even know. This book was just awful.
This book is possibly a slight step down from the first. Again, the writing quality was subpar but still a step up from some of the other popular YA novels (ie The Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter). No questions really get answered but that didn't bug me. It more or less kept me intrigued for the third. If anything it opened up many more questions. It gave you insights to things that happened in the first book through more leaked information that you hadn't even realized you should question until this book. I'm reading a lot of reviews that said it's just filler and I agree with that. I think the majority of the book could have been taken out and it wouldn't actually affect the series in anyway. That bugs me a little. I had a problem with the lack of character building in the first book and this one was potentially even worse. Through reading all three books I never really felt a connection to any of the characters.
Dashner brings in a love triangle which bugged me a little with the level of cliche but you have to write to your audience and that's how you do it. Eventually, though, the love triangle kind of did add to the story. I think the best character interactions in the entire series happen between Teresa and Brenda. It's probably the only scenario where Dashner really portrays their relationship and unease with one another through showing rather than just stating "they really didn't like each other".
This book has some twists that really kept me thinking and trying to figure out where he was going to take it. With all of these books, if you read them as stand alone novels then they are very lacking, however Dashner did a good job of tying all of his books together and making you read all three to really understand even the first book.
Even though the book was mostly just filler it seemed and nothing in the story really progressed, I still found it to be intriguing and captivating. I wonder about the science behind it and much of it seems like something Dashner just kind of threw together without much research but if you take it for what it is at face value (a young adult novel) it was a decent read and a good follow up to The Maze Runner.
Overall, I would again recommend this book.