Genre books are a wonderful thing. They give markers for the type of book you are reading. They follow standards and allow you to dig deeper into an idea than if the author started from scratch. Some genre books allow you to relax into them or mindlessly wander away for a few hours knowing you will not have to think too hard.
The struggle of genre books is that they can become too repetitive and too predictable. Dystopian young adult fiction is getting to the too predictable point. The Selection was an example of a book that had lost some of its purpose and social commentary.
So I am glad to report that the Maze Runner series (at least so far) has stayed within the genre, but broken outside the standard mold. This is not a repeat of the Hunger Games or Divergent. But you can see some of the family markers. If anything, this book feels more like Orson Scott Card’s classic, Ender’s Game, than most other modern dystopian novels.
There is no way to really review this book without giving away some spoilers. So if you have not read the Maze Runner and do not want to hear any spoilers, you might want to stop reading.
At the end of the Maze Runner, Thomas and the other kids had finally found a way outside of the Maze. They were shocked to learn that they were a part of some research project. At the beginning of the Scorch Trials, they realize the are not done yet.
There is a strong underlying current of ethical discussion running through these books. Can you torture one set of people for the greater good? Is it right to kill one person to save a whole group of others?
The study is clearer this time. Fairly early into the book, a man in a white suit gives the boys (and one new boy that has been added to the group) directions. Travel 100 miles through a desert area known as the Scorch in two weeks. As motivation to participate the boys are told they have been given a disease and if they complete the trial they will get the cure.
But like the first book, in accomplishing the task, people die. A pretty good number of people die. One of the minor complains about the book is that by the middle of this book Thomas has spent at least three weeks with the group (at the beginning of this group there are 20 left). But he still doesn’t know all their names and when unknown people are identified, they are Red-Shirted and die soon after.
There continues to be a lot of Thomas’ internal angst. He is clearly being jerked around by the research organization (WICKED). And at least some of his companions may be directly working for WICKED.
The beginning of this book started slow for me. It felt like they were going to just re-do the last book, but in a different setting. But that changed about 50 or so pages in and the rest of the book I was hooked.
I am not very good about picking up on foreshadowing. So if I know something is going to happen and it does, I tend to think it was poorly written. I did not pick up on a lot of the twists. (Although I think many people will.) It made it a quite enjoyable book.
This series was originally recommended by a friend and I have found all three on audiobook from my library. The audiobooks are well done, nicely paced and coherent as a whole. I am going straight into the third book.