Not Quite As Good As The First

The Scorch Trials - James Dashner

My Initial Reaction... 
The Scorch Trials was not quite as good as The Maze Runner, but I still liked it and am very curious to see what's coming next.

Note:There are some series spoilers in this review.

The Characters... 
I mentioned in my review of The Maze Runner that I felt like it was the story that made it strong, not the characters. I continue to feel that way with The Scorch Trials, but I think that was more of a problem this time around. The mystery has been lifted a bit, so while there are still mysterious elements, you know the bigger picture. And that means that caring about the characters is SO much more important... and that's probably why I didn't like The Scorch Trials as much. 

The main character is still Thomas and it's definitely still good that the story is told exclusively from his point of view. But whereThe Maze Runner had almost no romance, in The Scorch Trialsromance is a dominant theme - and, for me at least, it didn't work. Thomas cares deeply for Teresa, but she's disappeared. Meanwhile this other girl - Brenda - shows up and he starts having confusing feelings for her. It seems like maybe she likes him romantically, but he can't see her as anything more than a friend because he still holds out hope for Teresa. I think maybe I'm supposed to see the telepathy that he has with Teresa as something that fostered a really close bond, but I couldn't see that because they hadn't spent that much time together. 

The other characters fade in and out so much that I really can't say much about them - this is really Thomas and Teresa's story. And we've seen SO LITTLE of Teresa in the two books combined, that I don't know her at all (neither does Thomas IMHO, which is the problem). So anyway - yeah - the characters were a bit of weak point for me in The Scorch Trials

The Story... 
The story for the The Scorch Trials was still very good - James Dashner manages to pile on layer after layer of mystery. After the Gladers escaped from the Maze at the end of The Maze Runner they believe they've been brought to safety, but after one night they wake up to find out that they are in the middle of another test. And Teresa has vanished - replaced by a boy who just escaped from his own version of the maze. A maze populated by all girls and one boy. A Maze trial that was almost exactly like the one that the boys escaped. This is probably the strongest mystery in the series for me - why the two separate groups? What are they hoping to discover?

The Gladers end up in another test - transported to a land so hot they can't walk under the sun without protection. And they have to walk 100 miles north through a city populated by Cranks (people infected with the Flare) and that brings trials and challenges of it's own, especially when the two groups - the boys and the girls from the mazes - cross each other's path. I enjoyed seeing the two groups come into contact and I'm really curious to see what the story has in store for them after this. Another really interesting element are the memory flashbacks/dreams that Thomas has throughout The Scorch Trials. I'm fascinated by the hints we get about life before the maze and it definitely added to the mystery.

Concluding Sentiments... 
I wish that The Scorch Trials held as much mystery as The Maze Runner or that the characters had been a bit stronger. But the story is still compelling and I look forward to seeing the final resolution.