Review: ‘The Eye of Minds’ by James Dashner is a fast-paced trip through a virtual reality where anything can happen

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theeyeofmindsThe Eye of Minds is the first book in author James Dashner’s The Mortality Doctrine series, the first series by the author since his massively successful The Maze Runner series, which included three books and a prequel. The Eye of Minds tells the story of Michael and his two friends, Sarah and Bryson, who live within two worlds — our world, in the future, and the VirtNet, a virtual reality world where anything is possible and almost any scenario, world, or imaginative idea can be brought to “life”.

The book opens with a tricky and gut-wrenching scene: a girl on the edge — both literally and figuratively — ready to kill herself within the VirtNet. Players are regularly tasked with “quests” within the VirtNet, and successfully completing these tasks awards the player with experience points. Michael’s job is simple: convince the girl to not jump. If only it went that easily. Not long after his conversation with the girl begins, he realizes something is off. She’s speaking of someone controlling her, holding her captive within the VirtNet, and her only escape is to hack her own VirtNet chip out, killing herself within the game — and in real life.

Dashner could not have chosen a better opening for his book, immediately establishing a hidden villain and dire consequences for those who fall under his control. Unable to save the girl, Michael is shaken to his core… and shaken even further when he’s contacted by a mysterious worker at the VNS, an agency tasked with controlling those within the VirtNet. We soon learn that a man named Kaine is trapping people within the VirtNet, and the government agency wants Michael and his friends to help them track Kaine down. In the process, the trio hopes to learn more about the Mortality Doctrine, a mystery within VNS and among Michael and his friends.

The Eye of Minds is a tricky book dealing with a number of wide-ranging themes. At the core, the book appears to be about the fun and occasionally dark world of gaming, complimented by the lucrative and, again, dark world of coding and hacking. Beneath the surface, it’s a book following a semi-neglected young man searching for his role in life… before having that role unexpectedly thrust at him.

There’s a wonderful and often-interchangeable dynamic between Michael, Sarah, and Bryson, which allows for the story to remain fluid and for each friend to compliment their group relationship in new and unique ways. The story’s pacing is spot on, never leaving a dull moment in the story and forcing this writer to spend extra time up late finishing chapter after chapter, unable to put the book down.

Dashner has created a world where he, as the author, can do virtually anything — between creating new fantasy worlds to breaking laws and rules with hacking, Dashner can do it all. This unique tool has allowed and will continue to allow the author to go where he would otherwise be limited, opening up new and exciting doors for the story and for readers.

The author has spoken on his history with video games and coding, and his inspirations are clear: from the movie Inception, which can be seen reflected in the VirtNet’s idea of worlds within worlds, and classic die-hard gaming, such as Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer. The idea that you, as a person within this world and user of the VirtNet, are choosing to mimic real life, living within a fake world rather than the real one, is directly drawn from the original idea of roleplaying games which have grown to encompass immersive online roleplaying games such as EverQuest and World of Warcraft.

In summary, Dashner has managed to follow his work on The Maze Runner with an exciting and rich new world in which anything is possible — and that will be key to readers’ enjoyment of this YA scifi adventure/thriller!

James Dashner has promised that the second book in the series is already written and planned for a fall 2014 release, with a third book plotted out and planned to release one year later in fall 2015!

Don’t forget: as part of James Dashner’s featured author week on Lytherus, you’ll be able to win copies of The Eye of Minds on Lytherus, as well as read two exclusive interviews with the author! Stay tuned for the new content, and be sure to check out our summary page with links to the interviews and giveaways as they premiere.

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About Author

Mike Macauley

Mike Macauley is the founder and editor in chief of Lytherus.com. He also founded and runs Shurtugal.com, the official Inheritance Cycle community, and published his book, The Inheritance Almanac, in 2011. Mike can be found on Twitter at @mikemacauley.

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