"THE SCORCH TRIALS," by James Dashner, Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, 368 pages, $17.99 (ages 12 and up)

Move over, vampires, dystopian is the "in" thing right now.

"The Hunger Games" series by Suzanne Collins may have come to an end, but Utah author James Dashner is just gathering steam with the second book in his "Maze Runner" trilogy, "The Scorch Trials."

Thomas is a teen who awakened amid other teens in Glade, a large expanse similar to a working farm enclosed by enormous stone walls.

Like Thomas, the boys, who call themselves Gladers, have no memory of life before the Glade, and they have no idea why they're there. All they do know is they have to solve the maze.

Life in the Glade is like clockwork until a girl, Theresa, is added to the mix. Tom and Theresa have the ability to talk to each other telepathically, and they use that to their advantage, helping the Gladers finally escape the maze in a bloody sprint to the end.

The Gladers are safe. There are no more worries. No more monsters or puzzles or death. Or are there?

Life outside the maze is perfect for all of a couple of hours before Theresa goes missing and the world is turned upside down.

Nothing is as it appears, and WICKED is still pulling the strings.

Solar flares have been burning the Earth, baking it into a brutal, blistering wasteland. With the change has come the Flare, an infectious disease that covers people with festering wounds and drives them to murderous insanity.

The Cranks, those who have been infected, stand between the Gladers and freedom. The youths must cross the Scorch in two weeks or they'll die of the infection, too.

"The Scorch Trials" is a definite sequel — the players are the same and WICKED is still messing with the Gladers — but the novel has a unique tone to it, taking the reader to a new world and evoking new emotions.

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That doesn't mean the action is gone, however. There are twists and turns and plenty of battles to satisfy fans.

And as with its predecessor, Dashner hasn't skimped on the gore or violence, which is to be expected in books of this genre. Concerned parents should note that Dashner never goes overboard, nor is he gratuitous in his use.

With "The Scorch Trials," Dashner has amped up the suspense, leaving readers aching for answers — and a final book.

e-mail: jharrison@desnews.com