Musings on writing, lessons learned by an aspiring professional, book reviews, movie reviews, an occasional t.v. show review, and unashamed opinion.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 8, and The Scorch Trials

So NaNoWriMo is freaking hard.  Write 50,000 words in a month, work a full-time job, and get ready for your first baby?  Seriously?  Yeah, it isn't going as well as I hoped.  However, I am still plugging away, and my writing schedule has gotten back to what it was a few months ago, so it has been a good thing for me right now.

I'm still so pumped about Gunlord.  A western fantasy just seems like such a brilliant idea to me!  And it's nice that Brandon Sanderson has had a similar thought and written The Alloy of Law (just out today).  I'm glad, though, that Sanderson isn't playing up the western part so much, as it is a huge part of Gunlord, and I don't want to be thought of as ripping off anyone.  For the record, I started Gunlord last January, before Sanderson ever announced Alloy.  The writing group will back up my claims, right, guys... yeah?  If anything, I stole the idea from Stephen King, except that his Dark Tower series isn't very western either, only has a gunslinger protagonist.  That series got way too weird for me!  I quit after book three, then read the summaries for the rest of the series.  Boy, am I glad I didn't bother with the rest of that story!  (After reading about how it ended, I decided it was officially the stupidest ending to a series in the history of stupid endings).

Anyway, getting off topic.  I doubt I'll get 50,000 words this month, but the good news is that it's shaping up to be my most productive month in a long while.  That's a good thing, I'd say.

And now to The Scorch Trials, sequel to The Maze Runner:

I'm gonna say it up front: I didn't like this book.  I'll give you my reasons why, without spoiling anything, so have no fear, you may read on!

I read and reviewed The Maze Runner a few months back (the review was one of my first posts).  I had some issues with that book, but overall thought it was a fun read.  The Scorch Trials, (TST) however, really upset me when I shut down my ipod yesterday after the last sentence... it left me totally unfulfilled.  I felt cheated, lied to, and shoved through a meat grinder.  Funny, since this is probably how the protagonist, Thomas, was feeling right then, too.

Just because the POV character is feeling like this, doesn't mean the reader should be as well.

My main issues with TST were the plot and twists.  And lack of interesting characters.  But I can live with the last, since I still enjoyed TMR despite its flat characters.  I bet the age group TST is written for won't have any of the problems I had with the book, but good YA should still work for adults, so I'm holding TST to higher standards.

Everything felt so forced.  Everything happened because the plot demanded that it be so.  Every chapter ended with a cliff hanger, because the plot demanded that readers feel tension.  Each new twist felt so contrived that I screamed in frustration several times.  And Dashner (the author) gives you tension and twists with one hand, only to take them away with the other.  All of the suffering Thomas went through was absolutely pointless.  Not one of his experiences served to do anything, other than to move the plot forward--which, honestly, isn't even clear about what it is.  Oh sure, there are questions.  But are there any new answers?  Nope.  Not a one.  I know nothing more about Thomas's situation after TST than I did after TMR.  (Yes, there was some kind of disaster and disease in the world, but that doesn't count as answers, since knowing this only gives me twenty more questions).

Anyway, I didn't feel like Dashner gave readers a beginning, middle, and end in this book.  It all felt like middle.  That might sound dumb, since it's the middle book in a trilogy, but each book in a series ought to have its own story structure that fulfills promises to the reader.  TST failed at this.

I really like James Dashner.  I've met him, and heard him speak at a few different events.  He's a great guy, and is quite the motivational speaker.  I have no hate for the dude.  But The Scorch Trials just didn't do it for me.

The Scorch Trials gets 2 out of 5 stars.

I'll finish the trilogy, because there are some things I want answered.  Hopefully the Death Cure won't disappoint.  I'll have that one finished sometime next week.  As of right now, I'm halfway through The Alloy of Law, by Brandon Sanderson, and will post my review of it when I'm finished.

That's all.


  1. I didn't love The Scorch Trials either. I felt like the author used every single trope within his grasp to keep the audience riveted to the page without anything actually happening to move the story forward.

    Kind of like LOST.

    Still I read it, and I'll read the last one too. Is it out? See how on top of things I am? You'll have to remind me when your book comes out because I'll probably get distracted by something shinny and forget. Don't take it personally.

  2. I'm interested to see what you have to say about The Death Cure.

    Also, all writers steal everything from everybody. No worries if there are other westerns out there.

  3. I got so bored with Scorch Trials I never finished it. I thought Maze Runner was interesting but once they left the maze I stopped caring.
    Scorch Trials is still sitting at like 58% on my Kindle, probably never to be touched again.