The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (The Maze Runner #2)
Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.
Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim... and meal.
The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.
Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?
A lot of second books become nothing more than filler between books one and two, but The Scorch Trials is one of the best second books I've read. It starts off almost exactly where The Maze Runner left off; Dashner doesn't waste a second getting right back into the thick of things. There's barely a lull in the action for the rest of the book, and with every twist the story gets more exciting.
Ocassionally, Dashner throws character development to the wind in favor of action (there are a lot of "for some reason, Thomas felt..." sentences, etc), but not so much that it hurts the plot. The action itself is really, incredibly good; Thomas and the Gladers are constantly being thrown into imaginative and freaky situations. Each new danger is different enough to keep from being a repetition of the same old thing. The frequent, well-written action scenes made The Scorch Trials kind of thrilling.
The best and worst thing about this series is that I have absolutely no idea what's going on. Readers only know as much as Thomas does, which adds to the suspense and makes every new revelation that much more shocking - but it's also incredibly frustrating not to have any answers. Even though Dashner doesn't let much slip about WICKED's plan, the evidence he does provide doesn't just confuse readers, and his world-building is surprisingly well-executed. Knowing only as much as Thomas does makes it easier to sympathize with him, so readers who like feeling close to characters might like this series for that reason. Those who hate suspense might want to look elsewhere. I, for one, can't wait to see what all this has been building up to.
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman
Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.
I really wanted to like this book. The story is bittersweet, the narrator's voice is strong and clear, and it's paired with gorgeous artwork. All major points in its favor - and yet I can't get too excited about Why We Broke Up.
My friend tells me I just "don't get it" because I've never been through a breakup (or a relationship, for that matter). But it isn't the love story that bugs me about this book; the romance is pretty well developed and, from what I've heard, fairly true to life. Why We Broke Up is very nostalgic, and it's kind of neat to read about a love story in hindsight. Less with the rush of giddy emotions and more of the why-didn't-I-see-that. I very much liked that aspect of the book.
The things about Why We Broke Up that annoyed me were actually pretty trivial, but they added up fast. One, although Min's side of the love story is well developed, Ed's is a little bit lacking. I might be willing to tack that one up to the first-person narration if it weren't for, two, the only reason Ed can come up with for loving Min is that she's "different." The two of them are obviously from opposite social circles, but by God, what a weak adjective. What a crappy declaration of love! Okay, yes, a lot of the other declarations of love were really cute and sweet, but the only reason for Ed's devotion is that Min's "different."
Three, there are a lot of run-on sentences and giant blocks of unbroken text. A few runaway sentences is cool, maybe even stylistic, but when they pile up and create two full pages of text with no paragraphs, it's too much. A lot of the run-ons were just listing things, like what's happening in a basketball game, and weren't really necessary. By the end of Min's story, the entire book had started feeling like one of those blocks of text - like it had gone on forever and wasn't going to stop. The intense amount of detail was interesting to begin with, but by the last hundred pages it was just tedious. So although there were a lot of things I liked about Why We Broke Up, I was actually a little relieved to finish it.
Ex Libris, Veritas
Welcome to Verity Reviews, a book blog to promote, review, and critique YA books of all genres.
As Simple as Snow