Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review: The Eye of Minds - James Dashner

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
Series: The Mortality Doctrine #1
Genre: YA, science fiction
Published on October 8, 2013
Published by Delacorte Books
Pages: 308
Read From: 08.09.15 - 08.24.15

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.


Dear Eye of Minds,

James Dashner is one of my favorite authors ever since I read The Maze Runner, which continues to be on my Top Ten list. I've been looking forward to reading you ever since you were published. I went in knowing part of your plot twist, but figured it wouldn't hurt the reading experience that much. It didn't, because you still had plenty of other surprises. What did ruin the reading experience was your pace. This isn't a fun review to be writing.

Like a lot of people, Michael is completely addicted to the VirtNet - a completely immersive virtual reality gaming system. It's been developed to the point where everything in it feels real, even death. But unlike reality, you'll wake up or start your game over if you do die, so there's nothing to be afraid of. Until Kaine shows up. Kaine is another gamer, and he's been holding other players hostage within the VirtNet, harassing and torturing them with creatures called KillSims. His victims wake up in reality totally braindead. But no one knows why Kaine is killing gamers. Michael and his two friends Bryson and Sarah are hired by the creators of VirtNet to put their incredible hacking skills to use, track Kaine down, and discover what this thing called The Mortality Doctrine is. As they delve deeper into the world of the VirtNet, they soon discover that there may be no coming back from this game.

Your concept was awesome; I loved it from the start. Even knowing what I did about Kaine, he was pretty creepy and mysterious. The latter half of the story really picks up and starts to contain the disturbing weirdness that I've come to expect from James Dashner's novels. And the twist in the end was so incredibly good that I was left grinning for a whole half hour afterward.

Unfortunately, that's where my praise ends. I have always accepted that Dashner's novels are mostly plot-driven, but even I struggled with how flat of characters Michael, Sarah, and Bryson were. They had no personality, and their "amazing" hacking skills were pure heresy. There was no grand - or even semi-grand - demonstration of their hacking ability to show the Reader that, yes, they were awesome at what they did. The plot started with a tantalizing beginning, with Michael trying to keep a crazy gamer from plunging to her death off of a bridge. But then it fizzles out in one of the most rushed, patchy messes I've ever read. It's like the author got so excited about writing it that he forgot to fill in a lot of details for the Reader to be able to follow along. The world building was hardly developed and we jumped from one thing to another with little to no explanation. Even the twists barely had a jarring, shocking effect because we ran past them so quickly.

I wanted to like you so very badly, Eye of Minds. As a concept, I did, and the ending was great. But there were so many problems, too. Too rushed, boring characters, poor world building. I still hold hope for you as a series, though.

Feeling pained,
~ Mara A. ~

Others in The Mortality Doctrine Trilogy:
1)The Eye of Minds
2)The Rule of Thoughts

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