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[Book Review] - The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Title: The Eye of Minds
   Author: James Dashner
   Series: #1 - The Mortality Doctrine
   Format: Hardcover
   Release Date: October 8th, 2013
   My Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

     An all-new, edge-of-your seat adventure from James Dashner, the author of the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, The Eye of Minds is the first book in The Mortality Doctrine, a series set in a world of hyperadvanced technology, cyberterrorists, and gaming beyond your wildest dreams . . . and your worst nightmares.

     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.

My Review:

   The Eye of Minds the book that followed BZRK by Michael Grant and I know that the are different in terms of the levels of reality and alternative worlds. There are significant differences between the two however, and frankly this one just does everything better. Yeah, okay one is reality but on a microscopic level and the other is a virtual reality. This one focuses more on the VR world, and reality isn't around in this book as much. I'll touch more on that later. I know I said I wouldn't compare books, but BZRK just didn't quench a thirst of world building and original worlds so I went to something similar-esque and was much happier with the result.

     The world James Dashner creates is original but is believable. Now the in the real world is just like normal, maybe a bit more dull and dreary. I got the feeling the world is depressing and everyone is just trying to get home and dive into the VirtNet, a virtual reality where you can spend your real money for appearances and other commodities in a "second life" of sorts. I  could see it possible, but at the same time the hole thing is a giant advertisement for the VirtNet and different games inside the virtual reality. At the same time a lot of the book pertains to the Virtual Reality world, that just hardens the idea that everyone wants to escape the real world.

     Now the VirtNet is where 90% of the story takes place and while the plot is great, the real world is there just enough to support that it matters still. The VirtNet is coded into a core in everyone's head, I thought this would be a point of contention, where the dystopia part may fall in, but it never did. In the VirtNet you got the idea that anything could happen, if you know how to hack and glitch the system. However, there are cops of sort that monitor certain aspects of the world and there are rules most of which are don't do anything to really kill yourself. But the world building in the VirtNet was great, the multiple uses of different eras. The characters were just great, and while we question what the character really look like in reality there are parts that I believe are true with Michael in the VirtNet.

     Michael is a gamer and frankly I view him not entirely as a super-geeky guy, but he is smart and spends almost every day in the VirtNet when he's not in school. Michael and his friends while having never met in the real world, they can 'hack' the world and do certain glitches. He takes missions in the VirtNet to earn money or something of the sort, but one mission questions everything that he's thought to believe. Michael witnesses a girl rip out the core to the VirtNet from her head, which should be impossible and not only does it end your VirtNet experience forever, but kills you in reality as well.

     Michael's friends, Sarah and Bryson, give light to the dynamic relationship between them. There are parts that while they are sad and take a tole on Michael, as a reader I didn't feel that loss at all. That's one point of contention that I feel should be worked on as the series continues. However there seems to be more to Sarah and Michael than meets the eye, and I would like to see that develop. To be honest, I was shocked that more didn't happen between the two in the first book.

     When I think of James Dashner and how great The Maze Runner series was and how different this concept was, I had my doubts and reservations about this novel. They were so far wrong, while it's not perfect and isn;t the best book if the year, there are parts of the book that stick with me. It was original and thoroughly thought through. There's parts of the book that had me riding the on the edge of the seat, but the side characters lacked that attachment and I found that rather disturbing for a Dashner novel. The next book is calling my name, and maybe this year I'll get around to it in the midst of Project Marathon.
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