Virtual Peril: A Review of The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

eye of minds

From Delacorte Press:

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—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

In The Eye of Minds, the virtual world—the world within the VirtNet—is so much more enticing than the hum-drum real world. Which is why every day Michael can’t wait to slip into “the Sleep”, and virtually meet up with his friends Sarah and Bryson, whether they are battling aliens in a galaxy far, far away, or eating a burger at their favourite diner. Michael’s experience in the Sleep is made all the more enjoyable by the fact that he and his friends are expert hackers, who can manipulate the code to their advantage. But the name of another hacker, Kaine, is being whispered throughout the VirtNet. Kaine is somehow able to kill people in the Sleep…for real. Unsure what else to do, VirtNet Security enlists Michael and his friends to hack deep into the system and hunt down this very real killer stalking their virtual world.

The premise of cyber terrorism in a world obsessed with escaping reality in exchange for virtual life is both topical and a little eerie. Is this the way our future is heading, given our current addictions to technology, digital devices and video games? If The Eye of Minds by James Dasher (Delacorte Press) is any indication of the perils of such a future, let’s hope we have enough sense to stop things from getting this far.

The Eye of Minds gives off a very down-the-rabbit-hole kind of vibe—you know, if Alice was a boy hacker in the future and Wonderland was a freaky cyber world made up of code. Lots of twists, riddles and curiouser and curiouser realms. The action and mystery surrounding Kaine and his Mortality Doctrine are what really drive this story forward. It peaked my curiosity and I wanted—no, needed—to understand what was going on, who was behind the cyber terrorism and why. The plot is intriguing and Dashner once again brings the sometimes humorous, sometimes gruesome descriptions that fans of the Maze Runner series have come to expect from him.

While the storyline kept me hooked, I had only lukewarm feelings for Michael and his friends. They had some funny lines, but at the end of the day I didn’t really care what happened to them as much as I cared about figuring out answers. Up until the end, I wanted the stakes for Michael and co. to be higher.

I think this is a great book for boys or reluctant readers, especially those interested in the gaming world. If, like me, you gravitate towards character-driven stories, this might not be the right choice for you. But if an action-driven book gets your motor going, definitely give The Eye of Minds a read. Regardless of what you are looking for in a book, The Eye of Minds provides an interesting, and terrifying, look at the dangers of a completely virtual world. It reminds this reader why sometimes it’s good, even necessary, to step away from the computer and be unplugged (at least for a little while)—I prefer escaping into books, anyway.

♥ ♥ ♥ (3/5 hearts)

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