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 wish I could say that I just wasn’t in the mood for this book back when I read it, that I picked it up at the wrong time. Sadly I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. It just wasn’t for me.
This kind of story is exactly my kind of thing. I love stories about virtual realities and was at times reminded of books I loved like Ready Player One and Brain Jack while reading this.
The book has a really good start, is gripping right from the beginning. I loved the world Dashner created around these virtual realities and the kind of adventure he put his characters in.
But a good start doesn’t make a good story. I had two mayor problems with the book. The first one is its characters. It just never clicked between them and me. I didn’t feel any connection to them. Even if we get some background information I felt like I didn’t really know them.
My second problem with the book is the story itself. Even if Dashner had lots of ideas how to put his characters into dangerous situations they turned out rather boring. With not feeling connected to the characters, I just didn’t care enough about them to be anxious when they might have gotten hurt. I didn’t even care when suddenly he got rid of a character.
The unknown about what’s going to happen next and my interest in getting to know who this evil guy is made me want to keep reading though.
And reading on was definitely worth it. Suddenly there is that big revelation. I had an idea that something like that might happen but this plot twist made me excited again and made me want to get my hands on the second book as soon as possible. It indicates a really interesting kind of story for the second book. This twist could even mean that I could get over my problems with this one, especially not feeling connected to the characters.
It always feels wrong and disappointing to not like a book by a favorite author but even if the overall concept about virtual realities is great and this idea of an adventure seems gripping, flat characters take away all the fun and leave behind a rather boring story.