This is a guest review by Maria Ramos. Note: Review contains some spoilers for the first Maze Runner movie.
While not as well-known as The Hunger Games or even The Divergent series, The Maze Runner trilogy has become popular among readers interested in dystopian fiction in recent years, especially once the movie adaptation was announced. The first film in the series, titled simply The Maze Runner, did surprisingly well for not having any A-list stars in the cast. It had interesting characters, a unique take on its post-apocalyptic premise and a great mix of action scenes and plot development.
So it was no surprise that the second book in the series, The Scorch Trials, also received the film treatment. Released this year, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, continues the adventures of Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Minho (Ki Hong Lee), and the other survivors of the first film, as they find themselves fighting new enemies and a new dangerous landscape they must escape.
Picking up mere minutes after the first movie left off, The Scorch Trials brings Thomas and the others into a facility that is supposed to keep them safe from WCKD. Led by Mr. Janson (Aidan Gillen), the Gladers are told that they are not the only Maze survivors, and that they and the other groups are now safe in the facility. But soon Thomas realizes that safety is just an illusion as Janson is actually working for WCKD, performing experiments on the Maze survivors to see why the Flare virus that has infected the world doesn’t seem to affect them.
The Gladers make a daring escape from Janson’s facility, only to find themselves in a barren wasteland known as The Scorch. Here they are at risk from Cranks – the flesh-eating zombie-like creatures infected by the Flare – as well as WCKD itself.
While the first adaptation stayed fairly faithful to its source material, readers of the second book might notice early on that the film version of The Scorch Trials made some big changes. Gone is the telepathic link between Thomas and Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), the only female Glader. Also gone is the use of the Scorch as a testing ground for the immune teenagers. Instead they are taken to a lab and strung up like sides of beef to have their blood and immune systems tested.
Most notably, when they head out into the Scorch it is only as a means of escape and to find the Right Arm, not to find out why they are immune to the Flare while so many others are not. While not all changes from the book to the film are prominent, this change works against the story, as it removes the explanation as for why Thomas and his companions are in the area in the first place. And with a cliffhanger ending, it almost makes it seem like The Scorch Trials is just an action-packed means to connect the first film with the planned third film in the trilogy.
Each post-apocalyptic story has its own version of how the world ends, and each one seeks to show a unique version of how a new world order will or has begun. The Maze Runner series focuses less on global war and nuclear weapons wiping out most of humanity, and instead uses unprecedented solar flares and a highly infectious disease that turns humans into monsters. While the devastation in the series has only been a ‘what-if’ scenario in recent years, we can draw parallels to our own erosion of the ozone layer mainly through our continued dependency on traditional energy providers versus renewable sources .
Whether the cause of the apocalypse be war or human-created destruction, it is obvious that whatever happened has left the world a barren, desolate place where only monsters can thrive. With the real world suffering from climate change caused by reliance on unsustainable fuels, it isn’t too far of a stretch to believe reality could soon mimic the world of The Scorch Trials and other dystopian films. While that fate is hopefully a long time coming, you won’t have the wait too long to find out what happens to Thomas and gang. The Death Cure, the third and final film in the trilogy featuring returning director Wes Ball, is set for a February 17, 2017 release date.