When what you thought was real life turns out to be virtual, but your virtual death turns out to be real?
The world that James Dashner paints in his thrilling and adventurous new book, The Eye of Minds, seems at first to be any video gamers heaven. The characters in the book are all part of the VirtNet, the online world, and when they play games, they step into this other realm.
While playing the game, the players go into “nerve boxes”, or as the teens call them, “coffins”, that make everything that happens in the game feel real. This means the players can utilize all five senses in the game. They can taste food, as well as hear, smell, see, and touch the world around them.
This technology isn’t only limited to the pleasant aspects of the game though. Every punch landed on the players, every time they die, no matter how brutally, they feel the pain of it for at least one brief moment, before they wake up again in the “coffin”.
They always wake up after they die. Until they don’t. In The Eye of Minds, a cyber terrorist named Kaine is preying on the players in the VirtNet. Through torture and other mysterious and terrifying devices throughout the book, Kaine leaves players dead in the virtual world, and brain dead in the real one.
It is because of Kaine that the main character in The Eye of Minds, Michael, is sent to dispatch by the VirtNet policers. To find Kaine Michael begins a journey into dangerous and hidden parts of the gaming world. As he fights past terrifying enemies Michael makes life altering revelations as the plot twists and turns, taking the readers on a wild, sometimes frightening, always entertaining, ride.
Dashner prides himself in creating this ride, in addition to thinking of unique worlds, and plots that differ from mainstream books, as evidenced by The Eye of Minds and Dashner’s other hugely popular dystopian book Maze Runner. Although The Eye of Minds may at first seem already done and dated, as many new books on the Young Adult (YA) stream are set in the near, or not so near, future such as The Hunger Games, or Divergent, The Eye of Minds isn’t a copy, nor is it even similar to any of these stories. This is what makes the book such a fun read.
The Eye of Minds isn’t a literary masterpiece. The prose is not poetic, and the descriptions of place are sufficient, but not beautiful. However beauty wasn’t Dashner’s goal.
The Eye of Minds was noticeably written for an audience with a shorter attention span. In its simplicity and speedy storyline, it’s gripping, entertaining, and even manages to be moving, which is sometimes difficult for YA authors to do without slowing the fast pace that is needed for the eventual success of the book with young, easily distracted, readers.
The setting of this world whose inhabitants are so addicted to gaming may seem like a place only readers who are gamers would find a likable story. But the excitement, entertainment and feelings produced throughout the not-so-long read are feelings that any and all readers would enjoy.
In The Eye of Minds, James Dashner does what few YA authors can do, he makes a storyline that is equally appealing to gamers or non gamers, and to young adults, or adults. It’s a roller coaster that anyone can get on and anyone can enjoy.