The Eye of Minds (Mortality Doctrine, book one)
By James Dashner
Published 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Michael spends most of his time in the VirtNet, racking up experience points and honing his gaming skills. He never expects that his actions will catch the government's attention, much less that they will ask him to hunt down a dangerous hacker in the VirtNet. But that's what happens, and it's only the beginning of a thrilling adventure for Michael and his friends - one that may cost them everything.
I found this e-galley available a while ago and knew that it would be getting a big push come release time - the new series from Dashner, bestselling author of The Maze Runner series. When I downloaded the digital ARC, I hadn't read Dashner before (I finished listening to The Maze Runner right before I started reading this - review of that title to come), but I wanted to give him a shot. It's interesting to think about the two different experiences I had with the two books, but maybe I'll discuss that a bit more when I review The Maze Runner.
Anyway, to this book - I'll readily admit that a lot of science fiction is not really my thing. Foremost, I don't like much of anything that takes place in space. Additionally, I sometimes get all muddled up in the science part of science fiction and have trouble enjoying the fiction part. I figured I'd give this one a shot because it doesn't take place in space, I'd heard good things about Dashner's books, and it had some similarities to other books I'd enjoyed (the heavy presence of virtual gaming initially reminded me of Ready Player One, one of my favorite books in recent history, though the books are ultimately quite different).
I can see this book being very popular with Dashner's fans - it strikes a lot of the same notes as his first series did. There are teens in peril, doing things they are not sure they should be doing and being told not to question them. They are fighting against something big and bad that they're not sure they'll be able to defeat. Every chapter is fast-paced, with short vignettes in each chapter, and most of them end on a cliffhanger, propelling the story along even more. It's very much an action-packed adventure story, and those are highly appealing to kids.
Additionally, the virtual world will be incredibly appealing to teen readers, as virtual reality and online personas are a huge part of their lives nowadays. As oogy as some of this virtual reality stuff makes me feel in books like this, it's something that I imagine lots of teens would welcome. I think Dashner has created an interesting version of virtual reality - it's incredibly immersive, and often made me wonder if there was even really a need to leave the virtual world in this vision of the future.
All this being said, I'm not sure I actually liked the book that much. As imaginative as I found Dashner's world to be, I wasn't convinced by it. Similarly, what this book has in action and adventure, it lacks in characterization - I don't think I could even tell you much about any of the characters here. They were all very one-note and not terribly interesting. There is a big plot twist at the end that I didn't see coming and that definitely left the book on a unique note, so I might be convinced to pick up book two when it arrives.
Overall, this is a book that will find legions of fans with teen readers - it just didn't hook this particular reader.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.