New Monsters and Horrors in Maze Runner Sequel!

 The Scorch Trials picks up right where the Maze Runner left off.  Thomas and his friends are now in a holding center with little knowledge of the outside world and no idea who to trust.  Thomas can no longer hear Theresa telepathically, and he is worried that she is dead.  After nearly starving for a few days, the gladers are given another challenge.  They step through some kind of portal into an underground passage that contains a horror that makes the grievers look like bunny rabbits.  When they finally reach open air, it is in a place that sounds like the title… a scorching hot, desert wasteland.  The boys must survive deadly lightning storms, victims of The Flare who are more like zombies, and another group of gladers full of girls.  James Dashner explains with great detail each new horror the boys encounter.  When WICKED tells the boys this new trial would be worse than the maze, they weren’t kidding.  The action is nonstop and the plot keeps twisting as new characters join the game.  We learn a little about this new scary world, but not much.  Thomas picks up old memories, but they are sketchy enough to keep the readers guessing.  Readers who loved the Maze Runner will enjoy this sequel.  Book 3:  The Death Cure comes out in 2011.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Should Thomas have trusted Theresa?

What about Brenda and Jorge?

What do you think WICKED means by variables?

Would you rather face the silver ball that decapitates you or the orange, faceless monsters with the bulbs?

What do you think the next trial will bring for Thomas and the gladers?

What could WICKED possibly hope to gain by putting these teens through these trials?

Would you rather be in the Maze or the Scorch?

Why do you think WICKED allowed the girls to have weapons, but not the boys?

New Fallen Angel Fantasy With Christian Flavor In Halo

Bethany and her brother, Gabriel (as in Archangel Gabriel) and sister, Ivy are on assignment to Earth to spread love and goodwill.  They must battle against the darker forces that are spreading hate, crime and misery.  An angel’s love is supposed to be for all humans, not just one.  So when Bethany falls in love with Xavier, she has a real problem.  She not only risks angering her brother and sister, who trust her, but God himself who is far less lenient with his angels as he is with humans.   Bethany is becoming very comfortable in her human skin, which separates her even more from Gabriel and Ivy, who long to return to Heaven.  Jake Thorn’s arrival at school makes things even more complicated.  He has the power to block Bethany’s healing powers.  He is starting to cause chaos and you can guess where he is from.

Readers who fell in love with Edward from Twilight will love Xavier too!  He is just as selfless, romantic and crush worthy as the him.  This good versus evil tale is filled with hope and optimism, unlike some of the other fallen angel romance you will find.  This one is much better written as well.  Bethany, Gabriel and Ivy are more angelic than tragic and beaten down.   I enjoyed this book much more than Lauren Kate’s Fallen and Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush Hush.  I feel very strongly for angel characters to have depth, there needs to be a religious tone and biblical perspective to the story.  The characters in Fallen and Hush Hush felt flat without them.  The cover is awesome!  There will be two more books in this series, Hades & Heaven

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Is having a boyfriend worth breaking your family’s rules?  Is it worth punishment?

What do you think makes Bethany more human than Gabriel and Ivy?

Why is Jake Thorn attractive to people?

If appropriate, discuss about what they think life after death means.  What do you think Heaven will look like?

Are characters like Xavier and Edward from Twilight realistic in their treatment of teenage girls?

Would you rather be like Bethany or Molly?

How do angels compare with vampires when it comes to supernatural romance?