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Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Scorch Trials (A Trilogy)


Pro: Keeps you reading, 100%
Con: Not really.

The Bottom Line: How more of these kids aren’t dead or suffering from severe PTSD or simply breaking down, I’ll never know.

Once I was done with the first book, it was time to dive into the second. I’d already seen both movies, so now I really wanted to know how The Scorch Trials compared to its film counterpart.

Holy cow, are they different. But let’s talk book first.

Thomas and the other Gladers are out of the Maze. They’ve been rescued – or so they thought. Turns out the Maze was only the first phase of the trials. Now they have another to face; the burning wasteland of the Scorch, an area of the world where sun flares have fried everything to a crisp, and where a nasty disease called the Flare eats away at people’s brains until they’re psychotic, ravaging maniacs. Good times. And if Thomas and the others survive – who knows? Maybe WICKED keeps its promises, maybe it doesn’t. Thomas doesn’t know what to trust anymore – or who to believe.

Wow this book was violent. I mean, stuff happens to these kids that only happens in horror stories. WICKED puts them through some awful, awful things in order to get what they want, ultimately justifying all that suffering with a promise of a cure for the Flare. Yeah right. I certainly don’t believe it, myself. I have my theories of what’s really going on, but even so, Dashner keeps you on your toes so you never truly have any idea of what’s happening, who to trust, what’s real, and what might happen next. In the end, all you have is Thomas to hang onto, and he’s as baffled and beaten as the rest of them.

There are so many twists and turns and weird crap happening that I truly cannot recall a time I’ve ever been so off balance by a book. I mean, yeah, I have theories, but in the end they’re weak and only vague guesses at certain pieces of the puzzle. When it comes to the big picture, I’m pretty well left in the dark. Heck, as I write this, I’m 1/3 of the way into the final book, The Death Cure, and I still don’t have any new ideas. I like it. I like that it’s totally new and not cookie-cutter stuff that makes it super predictable. I like that I’m so in the dark and Dashner does so many different things I can’t even cheat and skip ahead to discover anything because stuff can change in their world at the drop of a hat.

I do still think that the overall experiment is absurd since WICKED has no control, and by doing so they’ve put themselves in a position to be royally screwed by losing all their subjects, but I’m too well entrenched to let that bother me. So instead I just think, “You guys are fucked up,” and move on.

I paced myself with this book – and I use that term loosely. I finished this book over two days. Partly because I’d wiped myself in reading the first book the day before, and partly because I actually had to go to work.

Movie Comparison (if you’re interested)

Now if this set of book to movie changes make readers mad, I wouldn’t be too surprised. The movie is pretty much nothing like the book, and I think they may have pulled a bit from the third book into the second movie (and I only know that because of my cheatsy sneak peeks in the third book to where I saw mention of the Right Arm). But there are tons of things they left out – but again, in many ways I can understand.

The truth is that if all of Dashner’s horror were left in the movie, that sucker would be rated R, hands down. There are hanging dead people. Kids that lose heads in what’s probably the shittiest way to have it done (no, really, they literally have their heads removed from their bodies). There are more monsters, both human and non, Thomas gets the shit kicked out of him on what seems like every page, and so on. And all the kids reading these books wouldn’t get to see the movie, and the parents that saw it would flip out with, “Oh my God – what are you reading?

That aside, there were a lot of other changes. They stuck with a lot of original shifts simply because they don’t translate well to the screen. The Scorch isn’t a purposeful trial in the movie the way it is in the book. I think they pushed along the plot more in the movie so you know earlier what WICKED is hoping to achieve, which is also fine, otherwise moviegoers might leave frustrated and confused, and then have to piece it all together a year later. I hesitate to say that it’s dumbed down; more like a lot of the tests that WICKED runs in the books are etched out entirely and we move forward to Thomas and Co. seeking escape, safety, and answers.

Oh – and I like what they did with the Flare in the movie. If you’ve played The Last of Us, think final stage of infected folks. If not, go look up cordyceps fungus. I’ll wait. Yeah, that’s kind of what they went with in the movie, and I’m totally cool with it. It’s creepier by far, and while I’ve got nothing against Dashner’s Flare, I’m bored with crazy/rage-induced viruses.

Ultimately, I’m okay with the movie and the book. The movie is almost like its own story, which is fun, and which makes me wonder how the final movie will go. Until then, I’ll discover the rest of the story in the final book.

Looking forward to how it all plays out.

NT

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