Science Fiction

Review: The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

The Eye of Minds book cover
Image from Heads Up

Title: The Eye of Minds (The Mortality Doctrine #1)

Author: James Dashner

Genre: Science Fiction

Releases: October 8, 2013

Michael, like most gamers, spends more time in the VirtNet than in real life. It offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. People can experience fantasy worlds, risk their lives without a chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the better your hacking skills, the more fun it is. But now, one gamer is going beyond what any have done before: he’s keeping people hostage inside the VirtNet. The hostages are all declared brain-dead, and 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. But if he accepts their challenge, he’ll have to go off the VirtNet grid, through back alleys and corners of the system human eyes have never seen, where unfathomable predators lurk…and where the line between game and reality becomes blurred forever.

I’m always a fan of high-tech stuff like virtual reality. And hackers. So a virtual reality with a hacker main character, plus an evil hacker for a bad guy and life-or-death stakes? Sign me up!

Michael was interesting – more so because I was seeing him in a virtual reality world. He cared about his friends, but deep down, he knew it was just a game and whatever happened to them in the VirtNet, they would wake up safe and sound in real life. But he also could take things seriously when they got real. He was disciplined enough (or stubborn enough) not to quit. And out of him and his friends, I don’t think he was the best hacker of the group.

Sarah and Bryson, Michael’s friends, were pretty flat. Bryson was the jokester, Sarah was the sensible one. And they were both pretty bland. I didn’t really mind, though, because they were secondary. This was entirely Michael’s story.

I had an issue with the character dynamics – mainly that I didn’t really get a feel for them. I know Michael, Sarah, and Bryson were friends, but once the catch-the-evil-hacker plot starts, it was like they turned into a team – an all-business kind of relationship. I don’t know if that was on purpose or not, but it seemed a little weird (or it could have just been James Dashner’s occasionally clunky writing).

I feel like if I say anything about the plot, I’ll give something away. There’s so many layers to it – you think you’re getting close to the bad guy, then it turns out there’s something else to discover or get past. The whole virtual reality thing had its own demented-Alice-in-Wonderland vibe, similar to leo@fergusrules.com (a disturbing and very weird book that was my first childhood foray into sci-fi). So for me, it was nostalgic as well as exciting and fascinating.

One thing I feel the need to point out is the writing. I’d read and (somewhat) enjoyed James Dashner’s Maze Runner books, but I didn’t realize he had such a unique way of writing until I read this. I was about halfway through The Eye of Minds when it dawned on me: the writing sounded just like the Maze Runner books! (That’s not always a good thing – Dashner’s writing doesn’t always flow quite right.)

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know of my tendency to guess plot twists and big reveals. Well, the ending of The Eye of Minds took me by surprise and blew me off my feet. It made complete and perfect sense, but I seriously did not see it coming.

If I had to sum this book up in three words, they would be: must read sequel. Especially in light of that ending. Sure, it had some rough spots, but still – that ending! Somebody better offer me an ARC of The Rule of Thoughts, because no way am I waiting until 2014 to read it.

I received a free advance reader copy of The Eye of Minds from the publisher. Their generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

The Mortality Doctrine series:

  1. The Eye of Minds
  2. The Rule of Thoughts (2014)
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