The Eye of Minds by James Dashner Review: Hacker vs cyberterrorist in virtual reality

October 11, 2013 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 4 stars, Books, Reviews

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner Review: Hacker vs cyberterrorist in virtual realityThe Eye of Minds by James Dashner
Series: The Mortality Doctrine #1
Published by Random House on October 8, 2013
Source: Publisher
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult
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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.

The Eye of Minds takes all the elements of an epic fantasy with a unique world, crazy creatures and whirlwind events and changes it up – by setting it in a virtual reality world. Here we experience James Dashner’s epic imagination with horrific events, fantastical happenings, scary monsters and more.

Michael and his gamer friends Bryson and Sarah meet regularly in the virtual world called the Virtnet, where they assume virtual identities in the game called Lifeblood Deep (which pretty much reminds me of Second Life). The three gamers are skilled at manipulating code and hacking, which puts them on the radar of the VirtNet Security (VNS). The VNS kidnap Michael and adopts his expertise in looking for cyber terrorist Kaine and the Mortality Doctrine while he games. Now it’s kind of strange that Michael would be so agreeable to putting his and his friend’s lives in danger with very little reward, but for the sake of saving the world and becoming a hero, why not?

The search for Kaine is like a horrible nightmare that won’t let up – a brutal game of bloody battles resulting in constant deaths and respawning, an endless tunnel submerged in darkness, a huge line of corpses whose eyes follow you around, and the inside of a volcano with lava impending. Throughout their entire gaming career, the trio have been armed with the knowledge that it is only a game and they will wake up in real life, but they now have the added danger of KillSims. KillSims are these horrible, nightmarish demons that will wipe away your existence and damage your brain so that you wake up either dead or crazy. When I picked this up, I didn’t expect the thrilling, nightmare aspect of the book and I quite enjoyed it.

The Virtnet world was really well developed which made the constant, nonstop action really exciting. I’m the type of person who gets addicted to games easily and would probably not see the light of the day if virtual reality was ever invented. The concept of having a Coffin which is fully equipped to make your gaming experience as realistic as possible is fantastic – you can feel pain, sensations and even eat in game. I loved how the better players could manipulate the code and hack, whereas things like firewalls and passwords prevented them from going further.

Character development was stunted in The Eye of Minds – I couldn’t connect to any of the characters and they were quite cookie cutter. Michael is brave, talented, and addicted whereas his friend Bryson provides some comic relief and Sarah is the mandatory girl. We don’t really get any character development or background on who these people are – as they have never met in real life. I can definitely relate to having online gamer friends and building closer relationships to them than ones in person, but I would have liked a bit more to their friendship than just banter and maybe some development as to why they would risk their lives for the VNS.

The Eye of Minds is an exploration of a virtual reality world filled with horrors and the dark side of the cyber world, with only hints at romance. It is filled with suspense, fast paced action, epic gaming that will have you glued to its pages…until the crazy, unexpected ending that will you won’t see coming. I’d definitely recommend it to others who are looking for the next YA thriller set in a cyber world! Why have I not read a James Dashner novel before?

Thank you to Random House Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review! The Eye of Minds was released on 8 October 2013 and is available from all major bookstores. 

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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26 responses to “The Eye of Minds by James Dashner Review: Hacker vs cyberterrorist in virtual reality

    • Oooh he might enjoy it too, it's definitely something both genders can pick up and enjoy! I haven't seen Hack or Sword Art but I think I've heard about Hack. Is it an anime, worth watching?

  1. Meg

    This book sounds pretty freaking awesome, I love the subject matter. If I recall correctly, The Maze Runner series didn't have too much by way of character development either (disclaimer, it's been awhile since I read them) but I still enjoyed the action/plot bits. It's good to know what you're getting into though so you're not unpleasantly surprised. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. When this book was first brought to my attention, I know that I have to put it on my TBB list immediately. I am not only a James Dashner fan but I am real MMORPG gamer as well.

    I would surely have a blast while reading this book. I laughed at the word respawning. It certainly is the best aspect of any role playing games right? While you die, you will still have the chances of getting reborn again and again. Aren't their exp being penalized?

    What a pity that there's no character development at all. But I guess the plot and the awesome world building compensated for that seeing that you still gave it a four star rating…?

    If you'll excuse me, I will have to visit BN or Kobo to buy the book.
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    • Haha good on you Charlotte, I'm a gamer too (not a MMORPG one though) so this book really resonated with me, definitely the world building and plot was amazing and unique. The only downside to respawning is that you lose all your progress!

  3. This sounds like an exciting book, but great character development is one of my favorite things about a book, so I'm not sure if I would love this one. I would probably still like it, though.

    Great review!

    • I love character development too Kaitlin, but sometimes the world building takes over from that. Those two elements will pretty much predict whether I would enjoy a book. Thanks Kaitlin!

  4. This book had me at scifi haha.

    Seriously, though, it sounds so gooood! Just the concept of it. It's like genre-ception. A fantasy within a sci-fi. Totally going to copyright that 😛

    And add in the thriller element, and this book is sounding pretty dang good!

    I actually own The Maze Runner, so I really should read it soon…
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