The Eye of Minds (The Morality Doctrine #1) by James Dashner

The Eye of Minds (The Morality Doctrine #1) by James Dashner

Goodreads Synopsis
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.

I picked this up based on the fact that it was James Dashner and I liked The Maze Runner series. I was really excited because it was a take on a video game dystopian future. Dashner's writing made it really easy for one to get swept up in the story, especially once the action really began. It was a real page turner that kept the reader on the edge of their seat.

There was a good introductory period that started to world build so the readers got an idea of what the VirtNet entailed and what the future reality looked like. It gave us a sneak peek at what was to come and also helped establish Michael as our protagonist.

Then we moved onto the actual plot of the novel: Michael and his friends hacking their way through VirtNet along the Path to stop Kaine from destroying the world as we know it. There were so many times I was gasping and urging the characters to move along faster and do things properly. The creatures and scenarios that Dashner created in this world were probably even more terrifying than what was created in The Maze Runner. Those Killsims made me tremble with fear for the safety of the characters every time they come into the plot. 

One of the things I did not like in this novel was that if anything went wrong, it was easily solved through simple "coding" which didn't give the reader much in ways of seeing what the characters were doing to solve their problems. While some of the coding took place during the action sequences, allowing for other action to go on around the coding scenes, some of them were just Michael, Bryson, and Sarah closing their eyes, solving the problem, and that was it. There was no true explanation of how it was done or why it would work and it seemed like an easy out to me.

Another thing that should have been more clearly identified was the concept of a tangent. I feel like it was glossed over, but it was such an important part of the novel that it shouldn't have been. 

I loved the ending, but I did find it super predictable. I think it was probably because I had seen Sword Art Online already and had an inkling of what would happen from the first introduction. Nonetheless, it was invigorating and I cannot wait to see what comes next.

As a protagonist, I really felt for Michael. He was in depth and complex. He seemed to learn and grow as he went along, which is extremely important for a character that leads the entire series. However, I still wanted more from him. I wanted to see a broader range of emotions and situations from him (and the rest of the characters) instead of seeing the same thing over and over again. This was especially the case when Michael and company were looking for the beginning of the path.

In all honesty, Bryson and Sarah were both meh to me. They have potential and are on the right track to being great characters, but so far they didn't have much in way of personality. Bryson was the typical young adult protagonist sidekick and Sarah was the typical love interest. They both had their strengths and weaknesses that added to the group dynamic and the overall success and completion of the task at hand, but they were still mediocre characters in the grand scheme of things.

Kaine was by far the most interesting character in the novel as the antagonist. He seemed to have too much power at some points, especially considering Michael and his friends were still only teenagers. But he had an end in sight and would stop at nothing to achieve his goal. I think he had the best part of the story in all honesty and he was the most relatable character, in my opinion.

I really enjoyed this book, but the surprise twist at the end wasn't that much of a twist to me. It seemed pretty obvious what was going to happen based on what the series is called. However, it was still enticing and the action was believable. I hope that the "side" characters have more development in the next novel, but the foundation is there for them to become more than what they already are.

Overall: 3/5 stars. Interesting concept and really well-written, but I wanted more. There was a lot of world building, but I think that made for a lack of secondary character building. Hopefully that changes in the next novel. If you liked "Ready Player One", you will definitely enjoy this book.

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