Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
I was a big fan of the Maze Runner books. I recommend these books to people all the time. I had high expectations for this one because Dashner is so good at writing action and suspense, and well, this sounded like a high action/suspense story. This one, however, just didn’t really cut it for me. For starters, it took me almost two weeks to read…And it’s not necessarily easy for me to even explain its inability to hold my interest.
The premise is amazing. Michael lives in a world where people spend more time in virtual reality, than in reality. And he’s a top gamer/hacker. By the way, the book really didn’t make hacking sound bad at all…the smarter characters used their hacking abilities to save each others’ lives. And then Dashner throws in this serial killer type gamer who’s killing people by not letting them leave their virtual selves. When too much time passes in the virtual world without returning to the real world, brain damage happens.
The virtual world sounded insane! There’s games, cafes, hangouts, everything. People have totally different lives online. Michaels’ best friends are people he’s never actually met in person. And readers can definitely make comparisons from this futuristic world Dashner makes to the real one, we all spend so much time online in.
I kind of wish Dashner got right into the action (like he did with his other series), and spent less time with the mundane things Michael did in the beginning. Though, I guess looking back, it makes sense for Dashner to have included some mundane details to hide the bigger things to come. It was actually kind of genius the way he set this up. It did however, make the process of me getting into the story twice as long. Maybe the mundane details could have been a little more interesting or at least relevant to the moder society?
The big twist surprised me, and it was a huge twist. One of those, “this changes everything” kind of twists that makes you want to re-read certain moments to make sure it all adds up. Except, I really didn’t feel like re-reading any moments. I guess the only other thing I can really pin down for my overall “meh” ness of the book is the lack of character development.
I found Michael to be boring. His quick one liner jokes were never very humorous. His best friends were one-dimensional and I never really felt like I got to know them, though maybe that was Dashner’s inention with them being virtual friends, but still…I needed a little more than what I was getting. And none of them seemed to have big enough a motivation to do what they were doing. Maybe if they were written to be much more extreme gamers or game addicts in need of a challenge. Or maybe if they seemed closer to Michael, I’d understand. But frankly, I have friends from college who seem more addicted to games then these guys were. Why were they so willing to spend so much time, effort, brain power, etc. into this task that could end up pinpointing them down to a cyber terrorist? I just wasn’t believing these characters enough.
Also, some of the book was a little too weird/new agey for me. Like I get that the quest needs to be insanely difficult. It’s just that I’m not sure, looking back, that all those doors, demons, situations make sense in regards to who made them. And it felt kind of Alice in Wonderland/acid-trippy in places that I just didn’t think fit that well in a futuristic/computer driven world.
Overall, the premise of this book was amazing. The story had a slow beginning, but the action does eventually pick up (though rather strangely). There’s a huge, shocking twist and lots of cool world-building. The characters needed work though and I never really understood them or why they were motivated to do so much. I’m not sure if I’m interested enough in the plot to keep reading future installments, though it does have a cliffhanger. It was just kind of meh for me. Maybe my expectations were too high. I give it a 5/10.

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