Author: James Dashner
Blurb: 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.
Me: I am so NOT a gamer. And like most un-gamers, I spend my time reading books about gamers instead of actually gaming. (Oh...I'm so clever.) So congrats to this for enthralling my non-gaming mind.
The Ups: The entire concept of games becoming a reality was awesome. Something I'd never read, never had an interest in reading. I am totally guilty of only reading this book because James Dashner is coming to Austin with the second book in this series coming out. So I didn't have high expectations of it, and honestly I thought I wouldn't be able to relate to Michael at all.
Well, it proved me wrong all right. I've never really been a huge fan of action-filled stories, but I think that there was also a lot of psychological things that played into this. I really felt the action that Michael was experiencing but more than that, I had to keep reminding myself as a reader that what Michael was experiencing was just a game.
I think another thing that would really appeal to most readers is this is something that our society now could be going to. So much technology and entertainment is spurring around right now, that this is something that could virtually happen. And there are people now that cannot control themselves to separate their real lives from their online ones.
The Downs: I didn't really like the ending. Not that the plot twist was bad, but I think that the writing after it was very...fake. I think that if I had been in Michael's situation there is no way I would have been able to make that connection so fast, and then be absolutely fine. That part felt like it was written so he could just make the reader realize what was happening, and I think it lacked believability.
Something also just bugs me about James Dashner's form of writing. I know that the simplicity and the power is what appeals to a lot of people, but for me, I think that some sarcasm, some humor, some casualness is what really makes something believable. And it's almost impossible to find in a Sci-fi action story.
Overall: Not too bad, but could've been much better.