The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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 Mindsis 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.
I was so fascinated by the concept that James Dashner unrolls in this series debut: technology is so ingrained in our society right now and he managed to make a riveting and slightly disturbing twist on that dependence.It starts with Tanya's suicide. Michael's objective from the game was to talk her out of it, but instead of the ease he was expecting, he comes away from it scarred from the knowledge he obtains. She speaks of Kaine, the cyber-terrorist tracking down and wrecking havoc on people playing the game. She's frantic, desperate to die, and insists that it's only the beginning. When Michael fails in his task, he wakes up knowing that there's something wrong in the VirtNet that could destroy everything.Michael spends most of his time in the VirtNet - the virtual world created that has all but replaced the real world. Every day he gets home from school to plunge into the Coffin and be taken into his game world. In the Virtnet, one can battle dragons, kill in war games, or simply live out things that they wouldn't normally be able to do.In fact, the most popular game on the VirtNet was Lifeblood, a game that simulated all the everyday experiences and trials of life. There was this blurred line between reality and the VirtNet - the virtual world that so many people were obsessed with in the novel. Most people only emerged into the "real" world to anticipate their next release into their video game lives again. Everything was heightened - touch, taste, smell - and you could relive things or redo them. There's something appealing about getting a do-over, isn't there?When the organization responsible for the VirtNet, VNS, recruits Michael due to his skill in coding to help find Kaine, he has no idea what he's getting into. Words like "the Morality Doctrine" and a shocking encounter with Kaine leave him hesitant to go after the man responsible for the havoc in the VNS. With his two best friends, Bryan and Sarah, they forge a plan to track down Kaine and end the cyber-terrorism once and for all.Michael was a good character. He wasn't my favorite (as were Tick from Dashner's The 13th Reality series or Thomas from his Maze Runner series). He was cool-headed, analytical, but also friendly and cared about what he did. I didn't really see him as having that much of an honest personality. Despite his coding skills and interest in saving the world, he could be cowardly and immature at times, as I suppose most real people are. I liked him in the end though - Dashner did a nice job of making his characters falter in the face of danger instead of automatically surge forward into the story, which improved the pacing and also the realism of the book.I would have liked to see a little more indication of the special qualities that Michael and his friends supposedly have. The idea of coding is woven so effortlessly into the book that there isn't much emphasis on the hacking that they execute throughout the book. I would have liked to see that at least - their expertise and reasons why the VNS chose them being dramaticized. I would have liked to see a little more emphasis on that because otherwise Michael didn't have as much to help him stand out from the pack. I love intelligent books about people with different skills.The supporting characters were lovely. One of the biggest wrenches in Michael's character was his pure loneliness outside of Lifeblood. His parents are never there, the only person he has is Helga, his sweet nanny. He's never even met his best friends in person! Sarah and Bryan were nice characters. They supported Michael but he didn't outshine them. They were flawed in a way that made them extremely likable and realistic. It took me a while to get connected to the characters. I didn't really empathize with them in the beginning because they seemed pretty throwaway, superficial with just enough to make me think that their relationships could turn out interesting. In the end, I liked them but I still would like a little more to make them memorable.The world-building was phenomenal: I would love to learn more about the dependence/blur between reality and fantasy that he creates in the VirtNet. One of my blogger friends has this policy on world building: if you can scan down a page and understand each proper noun, it's a great setup. It was both fantastical and also realistic to make me wonder: which world was better? Ours or the VirtNet? Despite its flaws, it was an intriguing world.James Dashner is one of my favorite authors. He has this excellent sense of pacing and plot, always manages to completely turn my world upside down with his plot twists, and also does everything just about perfectly every time. He imbues everything with intelligence, subtlety, and his solid writing. If I want a book that's just going to sweep me away into an intense story, I always go for James Dashner.I did think that some elements and structure of the story really reminded me of his previous novels - a myriad of familiarity and new excitement. The familiarity could grate at me during some points, but the wholly original way that he executed the story convinced me otherwise. There were some flaws and some elements that I wasn't crazy about, but his originality and cleverness in his books always win me over by the end. I'm really glad I gave this book a chance. And that ending!While I don't think it's Dashner's best novel, I think that it's satisfying, tense, and riveting enough to make me forget about reality for awhile in the same way that the VirtNet does so for Michael and his friends. If you like adventure, technology, or a full-out intelligent read, I definitely recommend it.Recommended for anybody who enjoys: The Kingdom Keepers; The 13th Reality; The Maze Runner series; The Forbidden Game; etc,.