The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, another one of the dystopian Young Adult adaptations, will be released in Swiss cinemas this Thursday. Before seeing the movie, we take a look at the novel by James Dashner.
The story starts off right after the events from The Maze Runner , so readers should definitely start off with the first book in the series.
After getting saved from the Maze Thomas and the group of Gladers – everyone who survived the terrifying maze of book 1 – are on the outside. Mysteriously, they have been labeled Group A and every one of them, including Minho, Newt and Thomas have been given confusing tattoos. Almost immediately the come under attack by Cranks, victims of a sickness called the Flare, and barely manage to hold them off. Their rescuers, however, perish, but not before giving them the task of crossing the Scorch, a desolate piece of land, to find a safe haven. Thus begins a rollercoaster of a story.
From Cliffhanger to Cliffhanger
Mr. Dashner uses cliffhangers quite liberally to advance his stories – this makes them absolute page turners, but also leaves them somewhat hollow. There is little to no characterization work to go on – all is just plot. Thomas, Teresa and especially all the other minor characters seem extremely replaceable. On the plus side, they are likeable and thus readers feel involved in their destiny.
Thomas in particular is painted in a very one-dimensional role as the main hero of the story. But still, Mr. Dashner manages to put him through adventures that are interesting enough to continue following the story.
One of Mr. Dashner’s strengths is world-building and he manages to conjure a mysterious and bleak version of the future earth full of innovative ideas and details. He also uses flashbacks to expertly inject some flavor into his world. It’s a pity he doesn’t extend this skill to the development of the characters.
But Scorch Trials also suffers from some of the more common problems of a second book: it doesn’t cover an origin story of the character, but doesn’t have the benefit of culminating in a grand finale. So it feels transitional from the start – which is represented in the journey through the Scorch towards a promised land.
As mentioned before, the plot and the cliffhangers make this story a gripping one to follow, especially as one gets attached to Thomas and his friends. Whereas the first movie changed a lot from its source material, it remains to be seen how the second movie will diverge from the book version.
In general, it does seem like the movie will be able to enhance the strengths of the story while minimizing some of the weaknesses – the plot just feels like perfectly made for a movie adaptation.
The Scorch Trials opens in Swiss cinemas on September 24. The book version is available at the Orell Füssli Bookshop.