I’m not quite sure how I feel about this book. On the one hand, I thought that the action in this one was better than its predecessor, but on the other hand, the story and characters weren’t quite as engaging.
Let’s start with the characters. Most of the characters remain. Thomas is the protagonist and the story is told from his view. His primary comrades from the Glade are still Newt and Minho. Teresa is absent for much of the book, and a couple of new characters are added. Namely Brenda and Jorge who help the Gladers. I didn’t really like how the characters were treated in this book. Newt and Minho almost disappear from the story and are really flat. They rarely show any of the personality from the first book that made them likeable. Brenda and Jorge are the same way, they’re introduced, but aren’t really developed into full characters, they’re just twp-dimensional pieces. Even Thomas stagnates a bit as a character. The most significant growth he goes through as a character is at the very end, maybe even in the epilogue. It’s Teresa’s journey that intrigued me the most, but she only makes sporadic appearances, so the changes in her are more dramatic.
The plot of the book is far simpler than the first one, and that’s a great change. The Gladers are given a specific task, to travel 100 miles across a desert, and that focus keeps the story tight and the action focused. Almost everything in the book is about that journey. The action scenes were well written and made a lot more sense than those of the Maze Runner. It seemed like Dashner made some real improvements in how he wrote those particular scenes, and it made the story more enjoyable.
A little more information is given about WICKED, and how Thomas is connected to them, but on the whole, there’s still a lot to learn. The ambiguity about their mission, and the confusion the characters feel fits into the narrative, but gets a little frustrating as a reader. I’m really hoping that the answers given in the last book are satisfactory, because otherwise the series as a whole will be a real disappointment.
I think I’m going to reserve my judgement on the book for a while. It’s the middle book of a trilogy, so I’m not supposed to have all the answers, but I’m not sure I can decide whether I like The Scorch Trials until I see how it fits into the larger story. This doesn’t really work as a stand-alone book, so I’m not going to treat it as such.