In additon to presenting at the CCIRA convention in February, I attended several terrific workshops, one of which was the Colorado Blue Spruce YA Book Award Session. The Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award recognizes the most popular books among middle and high school students in the State of Colorado. Teens nominate their favorite titles and select the winner - adults do not vote. At the workshop the 2011 winner of the Blue Spruce Award, Rick Riordan's The Last Olympian, was announced, as well as the list of 2012 nominees. I am now on the Blue Spruce Award Committee and will be writing book talks for the nominees which can be found on their website at http://www.cal-webs.org/bluespruce/ later this spring. One of the nominees is The Maze Runner by James Dasher. Coincidentally, I have just finished its sequel The Scorch Trials.
The Maze Runner is the first book in a new dystopian trilogy. It introduces Thomas, who is an amnesiac thrust into the center of an enormous maze name the Glade where other teenage boys are struggling to survive. The boys arrive at the Glade through an empty freight elevator and have no memory of who they are or how they got there. Outside the Glade technological monsters called Grievers are lurking. Each day the boys send out Runners who are looking for a way out through the maze that surrounds their oasis of safety. Each night they must lock themselves into the Glade so that the marauding Grievers can’t kill them. As Thomas, who becomes a maze runner, struggles to adjust to this foreign world, the group’s leader tells him, "Old life's over, new life's begun. Learn the rules quick.” Then the elevator delivers Teresa, a comatose girl who triggers something in Thomas’s memory. Attached to her is a message which says no more food or supplies will be delivered and she will be the last teen sent. The boys realize that it’s now or never. The Maze must be solved before supplies run out and the Grievers attack. When readers finish this exciting dystopian thriller, they can dive right into the sequel, The Scorch Trials.
In The Scorch Trials Thomas and Teresa find their problems are not over. After one day of rest, they are tasked to cross an expanse of earth, which was scorched by sun flares. The Scorch is teeming with Cranks, people inflected with an insanity inducing disease known as the Flare. The teens are told that they are infected with the Flare, but if they make it across the desert, they will receive a cure and their problems will be over. This action packed adventure tests the teens surival skills as well as their loyalty to each other. Readers will be clamoring for the final book in the triology.