It turns out that the maze of James Dashner’s The Maze Runner was only the beginning. In The Scorch Trials, the second book in the trilogy, Thomas and his companions, the Gladers, now have to travel across a desert with the scorching sun burning their backs. The conditions are dangerous, with lightning striking down on the group and wind blinding them. They finally reach a city, but the constant threat of being killed is a burden as they try to make it to the safe haven in time.

Thomas and the Gladers are in Phase Two of an experiment created by WICKED (World In Catastrophe: Killzone Experiment Department). WICKED is a government agency formed by surviving nations to defeat the Flare, a deadly disease that turns people insane. The Gladers, who are infected, have two weeks to cross the Scorch to reach the safe haven, where they will receive a cure. Along the way are the Variables, which were carefully manipulated by WICKED. These obstacles provide shocking and entertaining twists that kept me guessing. Many questions from the previous novel were answered, but new questions arose as well, leaving me even more intrigued. The plot makes a smooth transition between The Maze Runner and the final book, The Death Cure.

Dashner’s unique writing style adds to the quality of this science fiction novel. The vivid descriptions helped me visualize every scene, from the desert to the hot room filled with Cranks, the victims of the Flare. With descriptions like Dashner’s, it felt as though a movie was playing in my head.

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The Scorch Trials has excellent characterization as well. From the dialogue alone, I was able to see Thomas’s emotional side, Minho’s sarcasm, and Newt’s determination to get things done. This was true for new characters too, including Brenda, the tough girl, and merciless Jorge. I felt strongly about these characters, loving the admirable ones and hating the evil ones. It is important to be able to emotionally connect with the characters because it shows their depth. I also thought that the characters felt very realistic; I never doubted any of their actions.

This number-one New York Times and USA Today best-selling author has done it again. James Dashner’s unique plot and writing style combine to create another amazing sci-fi story that stands out among other dystopian novels. After finishing The Maze Runner, you will find yourself hiking through the desert just to pick up a copy of The Scorch Trials. It is definitely worth it.

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