The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
SciFi, Middle Grade
Who knows the true definition of real?
Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?
But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.
The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team. But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.
I’m a huge fan of Dashner’s Maze Runner, so I decided to read another of his series, The Mortality Doctrine. This is the first book.
It starts out pretty good. In the synopsis you learn about the Virtnet, a virtual world you can immerse (“Sink”) into and play all kinds of games. There’s this game that the main character loves, Lifeblood, which is a perfect imitation of real life, but it’s even better because with good hacking skills you can do almost anything. It sounds really cool.
Honestly, while the world and the plot are really interesting, the rest of the book is not as good. Not in the very least. I strongly dislike Michael’s friends as characters, finding them plain and poorly developed. The humor they use seems forced.
The quest format makes what seem like important events seem forgettable after a few chapters. All those characters that show up at different points in the mission Michael has to complete are just there to forward the plot and give a dramatic air that sounds a bit too dramatic.
It’s well thought out, and the big reveal at the end is actually really clever (one of the only things that make me believe this is the same author who wrote Maze Runner), but Dashner’s storytelling is awkward and just lacking in this book.
I don’t have much more to say. There’s really not much to talk about.
If you like books of the “Percy Jackson” sort, and you like books about technology or videogames, you might like this book.
If you’re looking for a good middle grade book, let me kindly redirect you to Tesla’s Attic and the entire Accelerati Series.
I wouldn’t recommend it to a friend. But if quests are your thing, get this at your own risk.