A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, just like The Maze Runner, this sequel shows teens in a dark-dark dystopia where adult "scientists" put them through horrific trials, supposedly to help save humanity (but there's little evidence of this). The publisher says this series is for ages 12 and up, but it's even darker and more violent than other popular dystopian reads geared toward 14 and up. Teens get decapitated in pitch-blackness, killed by lightning (the burns and a severed leg are described), attacked by a city full of mad diseased people who turn cannibal when they're too far gone, drugged, kidnapped, shot, pitted against each other, and, worst of all, when they think the nightmare is over they are manipulated by the "scientists" all over again.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Safe and sound -- that's what the survivors of the maze thought they were at the end of The Maze Runner. But that was just phase one. The "rescuers" are disposed of gruesomely (or is it an illusion?), and the government agency WICKED is back in control, forcing the remaining teens to endure the Scorch Trials: a two-week 100-mile march through a pitch-black tunnels, punishing desert, and, worst of all, a town full of crazed diseased people, who, if they're far gone enough, would love to eat them for breakfast. New revelations come out before the death march begins -- many of them tattooed directly on the boys' necks. Thomas' tattoo says he's supposed to be killed by Group B, the group of teen girls who survived an identical maze. And worse than that, Theresa is stolen from his group and sent to Group B, suddenly pitting him against his closest friend. Worst of all, all the teens are told they have the dreaded disease and need to finish the trials in order to get the cure or suffer madness and death.
Is it any good?
Teens who read THE SCORCH TRIALS just for the adventure and don't mind pointless carnage in a darker-than-dark dystopia will find a fast-paced read. Readers who look a little deeper will be depressed by the grimness of it all and struck by some nagging logical flaws. A government agency killing off teens? How can they really be getting anything from that? They could just swoop them up before the last lethal second and take them out of the trial instead. Why make machines that decapitate the teens in pitch-blackness? It shows that these people are sadistic, not scientific. The teens -- and readers -- are strung along, believing it will all make sense in the end. Memories will return and it will all be for the greater good. Really? Decapitation machines? The last book in the trilogy has a lot of explaining to do ...
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what a dark dystopian world this is. How is it different from other books you've read? Do you think the characters have anything to live for? Do you think scientists would be justified in killing human subjects for any reason?
Do you think all the violence in this book kept the story exciting or made the whole idea of teen test subjects too implausible?
What do you think the teens left alive will find out if their memories are ever restored?
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