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Review/ Read Along: James Dashner's Writing Thrills in "The Scorch Trials" Chapters 30-34

Amanda McHugh ‘18/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

“The Scorch Trials,” sequel to “The Maze Runner” (written by James Dashner and directed by Wes Ball) will be hitting the big screen on September 18. To get psyched for more action-packed dystopia, Emertainment Monthly will be re-reading and reviewing “The Scorch Trials” chapter by chapter.

These few chapters mark the halfway mark of the book, as well as our weekly articles leading up to the movie! Only eight more weeks until The Scorch Trials premieres in theaters!

Though the movies are an excellent thriller, James Dashner’s writing of thrilling scenes can considered some of the most well written action amongst YA authors. We last left off with the explosion separating Brenda and Thomas with the rest of the group. Brenda grabs Thomas and they run through underground tunnels, which supposedly connect the city, called the Underneath. However, they’re also filled with plenty of cranks past Gone. Though Thomas is upset to be separated from the rest of the group, he’s also happy to be with Brenda. But don’t worry, his teenage hormones come to the understanding that he has no time to have a crush on Brenda considering Theresa is still missing, and that they need to make it out of the city.

Dylan O'Brien as Thomas in "The Scorch Trials." Source: 20th Century Fox
Dylan O’Brien as Thomas in “The Scorch Trials.” Source: 20th Century Fox

The two of them travel in the Underneath until they hear someone following them. A crank, with no nose, hair ripped from his scalp, face pallid and wet with sores and scars covering every part of his body, missing eye leaving a bloody, raw hole, and one good leg came stumbling towards them (It has been confirmed the popular line “Rose took my nose I suppose…and it blows” will be in the upcoming movie). Brenda throws a can of beans at him, but when they turn around more cranks are surrounding them, looking just as bad as the first. Brenda and Thomas run through the dark tunnels until they reach a room where a secret compartment in a wall is under an old table. They crawl in there, and listen to the cranks’ screams and high-pitched laughter get closer and closer to them.

Dashner’s description of the cranks here is even more terrifying than his first description of them. He describes one of the crank’s “tongue was a gruesomely scarred purple thing, as if he chewed it when bored.” Even “the faces of the Cranks were primitive and animalistic.” He also builds the tension slowly and steadily as Brenda and Thomas hide. Thomas “heard a ‘this way!’ and a ‘that way.’ More coughing. One of them gagged and spit violently, like he was trying to rid himself od an organ or two.” Though WICKED is one of the overall antagonist of the series, the cranks are directly vicious, and have no control or thought over what they are doing. Even as you read the scene, chills run down your spine as “A woman laughed, so full of madness the sound made Thomas shudder.”

The tension doesn’t die down as the cranks enter the room they’re hiding in. The leader of the group, stumbles in with a woman. Though she doesn’t think anyone is in the room but a table, he tells her “maybe they’re hiding their noses under it…maybe they’re still attached to their sweet little pretty faces.” Other cranks outside the room shout repetitive calls, like “no no no…” over and over, with responses in repetitive manners like “shut up shut up shut up…” Though the dialogue is mixed in well with narrative, Dashner uses the dialogue to further characterize the cranks. They can communicate with each other, even past Gone, and even distinguish a leader amongst them. However, their mental state is still too far away to rationalize the reality of situations.

After several minutes of hiding in silence, they think they’re safe and turn the flashlight on. Though they didn’t expect the crank to be patiently waiting outside the hole from them. He grabs onto Thomas and the immediately start fighting. Dashner’s narration of a fight scene, like back in the maze with the Grievers, doesn’t let a reader down.

He goes into vivid detail as Thomas and the crank battle it out, eventually leading to Brenda jumping on top of the crank, and commanding Thomas to kill the man. However, good-hearted Thomas struggles to kill someone. Crank or no crank, he’s still taking the life of a human being, even if they’re past Gone. But with no choice, Thomas stabs the man in the heart, covering himself in his blood. The two make it back to the surface, but must hide for the night because it’s too dangerous to cross.

It has been said that no filming in tunnels was done for the movie, but instead an abandoned shopping mall was used. So although these scenes may not be word for word in the film, we can still expect to see some epic fighting, bloodthirsty cranks, and another looking into the world of the Scorch. Only half way through the novel, but still so much more to come!

A new trailer for The Scorch Trials is due out today. Keep an eye out, and let us know what you think!

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