School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Thomas and his fellow Gladers thought they were safe at the end of The Maze Runner (2009). They had solved the Maze and were overjoyed to leave the glade. Their joy and relief are short-lived. The Earth is a wasteland and more dangerous trials await them. The boys are instructed to travel 100 miles and cross a vast wasteland that has been ravaged by solar flares. When they reach their destination, each survivor will be given immunity to a virus called the Flare that has infected the population. Along the way, the Gladers battle extreme heat, Cranks (bloodthirsty humans who have an advanced case of the Flare), and more. Narrator Mark Deakins turns James Dashner's thrilling and suspenseful novel (2010, both Delacorte) into a nail-biting audiobook. He masterfully portrays the bewilderment and sheer exhaustion of the Gladers as they try to find meaning in the latest bizarre and cruel experiment. Tension mounts as Deakins plays with the story's pacing. Fans of the first title will not be disappointed and will eagerly await the conclusion to the trilogy.—Wendy Woodfill, Hennepin County Library, Minnetonka, MN
Hundreds of pages into this sequel to The Maze Runner, one of the teen subjects of a survival experiment on postapocalypse Earth wonders aloud, "hat this is really all about." Readers may be asking that, too. In The Maze Runner, the teens, their memories erased, searched for a way out of a deadly maze; their escape, led by Thomas, was short-lived. As volume two opens, the boys learn they are infected with the "Flare," a virus that has killed millions and produced a population of nearly insane, disease-ravaged "cranks." New orders from WICKED, a coalition of surviving governments, have the boys marching across a wasteland toward a promised cure. Though some facts are teased out, the narrative bogs down under the weight of unanswered questions. What is the purpose of torturing these kids? How is making them into killers ensuring the survival of the world? Why would government leaders name themselves WICKED? Hopefully answers are forthcoming in volume three. In any case, fans who are already hooked will gobble this down, particularly those who don't mind anemic female characters and a high body count. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Praise for the Maze Runner series:
A #1 New York Times Bestselling Series
A USA Today Bestseller
A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year
An ALA-YASLA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book
An ALA-YALSA Quick Pick
"[A] mysterious survival saga that passionate fans describe as a fusion of Lord of the Flies, The Hunger Games, and Lost."—EW.com
“Wonderful action writing—fast-paced…but smart and well observed.”—Newsday
“[A] nail-biting must-read.”—Seventeen.com
“Breathless, cinematic action.”—Publishers Weekly
“Heart pounding to the very last moment.”—Kirkus Reviews
[STAR] “James Dashner’s illuminating prequel [The Kill Order] will thrill fans of this Maze Runner [series] and prove just as exciting for readers new to the series.”—Shelf Awareness, Starred
"Take a deep breath before you start any James Dashner book."-Deseret News
From the Hardcover edition.
Children's Literature - Paula Rohrlick
Safety turns out to be just another illusion when you're the subject in a mysterious scientific experiment. Picking up the morning after the sci-fi prequel, The Maze Runner, leaves off, this volume continues to chronicle teen-aged Thomas's exciting if nightmarish adventures. A representative of a global organization called WICKED informs Thomas and his fellow survivors, the Gladers, that the world has been suffering devastating sun flares as well as a new disease called the Flare. The Gladers are told they have two weeks to travel a hundred miles across a sun-blasted plain to reach a safe haven and a cure for the Flare, which already infects them. The data that WICKED will collect on their efforts to survive may be essential to the future of the human race, they learnbut another, competing team has been set on the same mission. Thomas and company must also battle vicious, crazed Cranks, who suffer from the Flare, along with the killing heat, deadly lightning storms, and much more in their attempt to make it across the Scorch. Meanwhile, Thomas's close friend Theresa seems to have become his enemy, and resurfacing memories of his past make him question his true role amid the grim horrors he's experiencing. Readers of the first book will quickly be swept up in the suspense and nonstop actionthis would make a dandy video game, as Thomas confronts one gruesome danger after another. A third volume will be eagerly awaited. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
VOYA - Susan Hampe
Thomas and the gladers thought they were safe. They thought they were glad to leave the danger of the maze far behind them. They were wrong. In one night, all their new-found security is ripped away, replaced by a new set of dangers: the Scorch, an area of land decimated by solar flares, brutal weather, and populated by the Cranks, people who are infected with a disease called the flare. Teresa is gone, in her place a boy who speaks of having survived another maze. Then a man appears telling them they have two weeks to travel one hundred miles of the Scorch to reach a safe haven, which will make escaping the maze look like child's play. The Scorch Trials is the second book in the trilogy that began with the best seller The Maze Runner (Random House, 2009/VOYA December 2009), picking up right where it left off. Dashner writes at a suspenseful pace, weaving twists and turns into chapters that flow seamlessly together, culminating in a stunning cliff-hanger ending. Themes of moral dilemmas and survival amidst a deadly landscape make the danger even more chilling and heart-stopping. Readers will be on the edge of their seats with this thrilling story, and it is also makes a great match for fans of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Press). Reviewer: Susan Hampe
Thomas led the Gladers to safety in The Maze Runner (2009). But after just one night's rest, the survivors are told that a true haven is still a long way off.To reach it, they have to pass another trial: crossing an expanse of scorched earth while being pursued by the Cranks, humans infected by the Flare, a disease that inflicts madness. If they can just make it to the designated meeting point on time (and alive), they will be met by a rescue team from the shadowy organization behind these trials, receive the cure to the pandemic and never have to face danger again. Constantly on the run and threatened, the Gladers struggle to win. Thomas tries to protect his friends while searching for Teresa, the lone girl from the Glade, and grappling with elusive returning memories. Taut and bleak, continually intriguing and surprising, this is a solid sequel that keeps both Thomas and readers wondering what is really going on. Hooked readers will hope they won't have to wait long for the answers that have been promised in the next installment. (Science fiction/thriller. 12 & up)
Read an Excerpt
She spoke to him before the world fell apart.
Hey, are you still asleep?
Thomas shifted in his bed, felt a darkness around him like air turned solid, pressing in. At first he panicked; his eyes snapped open as he imagined himself back in the Box--that horrible cube of cold metal that had delivered him to the Glade and the Maze. But there was a faint light, and lumps of dim shadow gradually emerged throughout the huge room. Bunk beds. Dressers. The soft breaths and gurgly snores of boys deep in slumber.
Relief filled him. He was safe now, rescued and delivered to this dormitory. No more worries. No more Grievers. No more death.
A voice in his head. A girl's. Not audible, not visible. But he heard it all the same, though never could he have explained to anyone how it worked.
Exhaling a deep breath, he relaxed into his pillow, his razor-edged nerves settling down from that fleeting moment of terror. He spoke back, forming the words with his thoughts.
Teresa? What time is it?
No idea, she replied. But I can't sleep. I probably dozed for an hour or so. Maybe more. I was hoping you were awake to keep me company.
Thomas tried not to smile. Even though she wouldn't be able to see it, it would be embarrassing all the same. Didn't give me much choice in the matter, did you? Kind of hard to sleep when someone's talking directly into your skull.
Waa, waa. Go back to bed, then.
No. I'm good. He stared at the bottom of the bunk above him--featureless and darkly fuzzy in the shadow--where Minho was currently breathing like a guy with ungodly amounts of phlegm lodged in his throat. What've you been thinking about?
What do you think? Somehow she projected a jab of cynicism into the words. I keep seeing Grievers. Their disgusting skin and blubber bodies, all those metal arms and spikes. It was way too close for comfort, Tom. How're we gonna get something like that out of our heads?
Thomas knew what he thought. Those images would never leave--the Gladers would be haunted by the horrible things that had happened in the Maze for the rest of their lives. He figured that most if not all of them would have major psychological problems. Maybe even go completely nutso.
And above it all, he had one image burned into his memories as strongly as a branded mark from a searing hot iron. His friend Chuck, stabbed in the chest, bleeding, dying as Thomas held him.
Thomas knew he would never forget that. But what he said to Teresa was: It'll go away. Just takes a little time, that's all.
You're so full of it, she said.
I know. How ridiculous was it that he loved hearing her say something like that to him? That her sarcasm meant things were going to be okay? You're an idiot, he told himself, then hoped she didn't hear that thought.
I hate that they separated me from you guys, she said.
Thomas understood why they had, though. She was the only girl and the rest of the Gladers were teenage boys--a bunch of shanks they didn't trust yet. Guess they were protecting you.
Yeah. I guess. Melancholy seeped into his brain with her words, stuck to them like syrup. But it sucks being alone after everything we went through.
Where'd they take you, anyway? She sounded so sad that he almost wanted to get up and look for her, but he knew better.
Just on the other side of that big common room where we ate last night. It's a small room with a few bunks. I'm pretty sure they locked the door when they left.
See, told ya they wanted to protect you. Then he quickly added, Not that you need protecting. I'd put my money on you against at least half these shanks.
Okay, three-quarters. Including me.
A long stretch of silence followed, though somehow Thomas could still sense her presence. He felt her. It was almost like how, even though he couldn't see Minho, he knew his friend lay only a few feet above him. And it wasn't just the snoring. When someone is close by, you just know it.
Despite all the memories of the last few weeks, Thomas was surprisingly calm, and soon sleep overpowered him once more. Darkness settled on his world, but she was there, next to him in so many ways. Almost . . . touching.
He had no concept of time passing while in that state. Half asleep, half enjoying her presence and the thought that they'd been rescued from that horrible place. That they were safe, that he and Teresa could get to know each other all over again. That life could be good.
Blissful sleep. Hazy darkness. Warmth. A physical glow. Almost floating.
The world seemed to fade away. All became numb and sweet. And the darkness, somehow comforting. He slipped into a dream.
He's very young. Four, maybe? Five? Lying in a bed with blankets pulled to his chin.
A woman sits next to him, her hands folded in her lap. She has long brown hair, a face just beginning to show signs of age. Her eyes are sad. He knows this even though she's trying very hard to hide it with a smile.
He wants to say something, ask her a question. But he can't. He's not really here. Just witnessing it all from a place he doesn't quite understand. She begins to talk, a sound so simultaneously sweet and angry it disturbs him.
"I don't know why they chose you, but I do know this. You're special somehow. Never forget that. And never forget how much"--her voice cracks and tears run down her face--"never forget how much I love you."
The boy replies, but it's not really Thomas speaking. Even though it is him. None of it makes sense. "Are you gonna be crazy like all those people on TV, Mommy? Like . . . Daddy?"
The woman reaches out and runs her fingers through his hair. Woman? No, he can't call her that. This is his mother. His . . . mommy.
"Don't you worry about that, honey," she says. "You won't be here to see it."
Her smile has gone away.
Too fast the dream faded into blackness, leaving Thomas in a void with nothing but his thoughts. Had he seen another memory crawl up from the depths of his amnesia? Had he really seen his mom? There'd been something about his dad being crazy. The ache inside Thomas was deep and gnawing, and he tried to sink further into oblivion.
Later--how much later he had no idea--Teresa spoke to him again.
Tom, something's wrong.
From the Hardcover edition.