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.
My summary: This book is set in the far future where everyone spends as much time as possible on the VirtNet. You access the VirtNet by laying in your "Coffin"- so named for its shape and how you lay inside it. The coffin then inserts metal wires into your skin and you're off to the VirtNet to experience real life- only realer. Through VirtNet you can enter a variety of games- the typical fight zombies, shoot laser beams, go on epic adventures kind of games. But the most popular aspect of VirtNet isn't the adventures but the ability to experience real life online. You can shop, eat, and hang out with friends in the VirtNet. The books begins with our hero Michael hearing some of the villain's exploits for the first time. The next day, Michael is approached by VirtNet security and is quickly entrusted with a state secret and the mission to find the villian in the VirtNet. Michael brings his friends in for the mission and so starts a dangerous, fast-paced adventure to stop a madman.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.
My opinion on this book:
This book was way too fast-paced for me to truly enjoyed it. In the Maze Runner series it made sense for the reader to discover the world quickly along with the narrator but this kind of fast-paced world building doesn't work for this book.
I wish we could have been introduced to the VirtNet and the culture of the world before all the action began. It also seemed a little rushed that Michael hears of the villain and the next thing anyone knows, he's being threatened by the VirtNet security to find the bad guy. The way the security team approached Michael was unbelievable. The security team basically kidnaps a 16 year old, threatens him and his family, and then entrusts him with a state secret after he promises not to tell? And then sends the 16 year old off on a dangerous mission with only a "We'll be watching. Your friends can help if they want to." It's not believable. It's not even believable in the "It's a weird culture in the future" kind of way. The adventure is strong and interesting and because it was such a fast read it held my attention but some aspects are just too unbelievable to be entertaining.
The hero of this book felt rather two-dimensional to me as well. It seems like all he cares about is reaching a new level in the VirtNet and he feels really self-absorbed to me. He doesn't notice for days that his nanny has been kidnapped? killed? misplaced? He is approached by VirtNet for his amazing hacker abilities but we actually see his two friends do more of the hacking than he does. The characters just all felt two-dimensional and I can't say there was a character I truly cared about in this book.
The ending was over quickly and to be honest, I was a little confused over what was going on. I didn't know what Michael was doing or why he was doing it. The whole ending was just wrong to me. There was a plot twist revealed in the end of the book that seemed to be a bit of a stretch for the reader to believe.
Overall, I just did not care for this book. I hate giving negative reviews but there were too many issues for me to overlook. I loved Dashner's Maze Runner series but it seemed like he tried to recreate the action in a different setting and it didn't work. This was a book that required more world building and character development. I understand that some books require a suspension of reality but parts of this book were just too unbelievable to be accepted. It was an interesting idea but definitely could have been executed better.
On a positive note, the book was fast and hopefully the plot will encourage more teenage males to read. The idea of the VirtNet is quite interesting.
I have read several positive reviews of this book and it has a high rating on Goodreads so please be aware, this could be my personal issues with this book and you may love it to pieces. I cannot in good conscious recommend this book because I didn't enjoy it but if the plot sound interesting to you and you are willing to overlook the above issues with it, don't let my review keep you from trying this book. I am also fully aware that I may have had too high expectations for this book as I am a huge fan of the author's Maze Runner series. I knew the author was capable of greatness so I held him to that standard. If I pick up the sequel it will be out of curiosity, not any real excitement to continue this series.
In the end, it is up to each individual reader to form their opinion about a book.That doesn't mean book reviews are useless. It is more a matter of finding a reviewer who seems to have the same opinions on books you do and taking every review with a grain of salt. It also means listening to the issues people have with books and asking yourself if it's something that will bother you or if you're willing to overlook it. If you are just looking for a fast-paced adventure novel set in a high tech world- this book may be just what you're looking for. If you're looking for a solid futuristic read with a world you can explore and immerse yourself in, I would not recommend this book.
Have you read Eye of Minds? What did you think of it? What do you think of negative reviews? Should a blog post a negative review or only write reviews of books that the reader enjoyed? How much world building do you need to enjoy a futuristic book? Leave me a comment and let me know!