The Scorch Trials: Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 2

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Scorch Trials: Maze Runner Trilogy, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Teens are pawns of evil adults again in violent sequel.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 63 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers can think about the idea of a dystopia and compare this world with other tales of scary future worlds. Also, though little is revealed directly in this book, the subjects of the Scorch Trials are part of scientific tests, and there's much talk of "variables" and what was or wasn't foreseen. Readers can look up more about how scientists study human behavior in much less violent experiments than they find conducted in this book.

Positive Messages

It's hard to believe that all the violent and horrible trials adults put teens through can end up saving the human race, but that's the assertion here. The book does show how a will to live can overpower all in extremely stressful situations, and how working to help others in the group and showing leadership benefits everyone in the end. It also examines betrayal and what it does to those you care about.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Thomas cares about his friends and looks out for them as much as he does himself in life-threatening situations. His bravery is impressive, especially considering that he knows government scientists are manipulating all of them and have already allowed the horrible deaths of many in his group.


Many teens die in various ways, all sanctioned by a government agency. They are decapitated in the pitch blackness, fried by lightning strikes (burn injuries and a severed leg are described in detail), and set upon by machine-animal hybrids. They are also told they all have a disease that will make them go mad and kill them, but if they complete the trials, they will be given the cure. Teens find a group of people hanged in a cafeteria, mad diseased people attack with weapons, including a gun, and try to take body parts in one creepy scene. One character is forced to stab and kill one of the diseased and is shot and almost dies from infection. He also wakes up with a tattoo marking him for death by a rival group.


A couple kisses, and there is some innuendo.


The teens have their own slang. Fake swear words such as "shuck," "shuckface," "slinthead," "klunk," and "shanks" replace the real thing. And you'll see "bloody" and "crap" a few times, as well.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters are forced to drink drugged alcohol and wake up extra hungover.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bycarthony August 8, 2014

This book gets sadistic A LOT!!!

I loved the first novel in this series, but the second has left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I was unable to finish reading it. The story continues as the ki... Continue reading
Adult Written byalyssa_is_a_ jock April 3, 2016

The maze runner

This book was about a group of teens and how they had to survive a place called the scorch. Having to do so they came across death and a lot of other things fo... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 15, 2013

what the heck what this "reviewer" thinking?!?

OH MY GOSH THEY KISS???? Bloody shuck! that's horrible! Because of course we haven't seen the Disney Princesses do that two hundred times. . .
Not to... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byNewtStuntDouble August 3, 2019


EVERYONE UNDERESTIMATES KIDS! Yeah, buildings blow up and Cranks attack, but kids are already USED to this stuff! I started reading this when I was twelve and... Continue reading

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?

Book details

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