Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A Book Review of Game of Lives by James Dashner

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Michael used to live to game, but now, the games are over. The VirtNet has become a world of deadly consequences, and cyber-terrorist Kaine grows stronger by the day. The Mortality Doctrine—Kaine’s master plan—has nearly been realized, and little by little the line separating the virtual from the real is blurring. If Kaine succeeds, it will mean worldwide cyber domination. And it looks like Michael and his friends are the only ones who can put the monster back in the box—if Michael can figure out who his friends really are.

Series: Mortality Doctrine (Book 3)
Genre: YA Science-Fiction
Publisher: Ember; Reprint edition (May 2, 2017)
Page Count: 384 pages

I read the first two books of this series a couple years ago and I’ve been wanting to read this last installment for a while and now I’ve finally gotten to it. Despite the semi-recent controversy with the author, I still want to complete the series. Since this is the last book of the series there’s some spoiler material of the information revealed in the previous books that’s unavoidable to mention.

The Plot: This is the last book of the series so all of the secrets are revealed and the villain’s plans are coming to light. I think it’s a really interesting concept overall the programs that have gained sentience want their shot at humanity in the real world. It’s very unique and has a Ready Player One mixed with Ghost in the Shell vibe. As often happens when a group of people craved justice matters go awry and some people take it too far and makes for a lot of interesting conflict. 

The Characters: I like the characters well enough but they felt kinda blank to me. There didn’t seem to be enough about them to make them unique so it felt more like the plot shone while the characters took the backseat. Michael is the most unique since he is a tangent unwillingly residing in a human body and his knack for coding is distinctive but it felt like the side characters could have had more to them. Maybe I’m forgetting a lot of their defining features since it’s been such a gap since I read the previous books.

The Setting: I thought it was cool that a good bit of the book was set in my home state Georgia, Atlanta particularly but there was also a part set out in the county at an old farmhouse which I’ve seen a million of, so that was accurate. The author also described the tons of kudzu (yes it is everywhere) and the mountains of north Georgia.

The VirtNet is in shambles due to all of the chaos so it was interesting picturing a glitchy spam-infested world. Also a place where consciousness can be downloaded digitally is very creative. 

Epic Things: I found the references to the Maze Runner series amusing. Grievers and a game based on the series was mentioned lol. I also liked that a human fetus was shown and acknowledged to be a baby. I appreciate that pro-life tidbit.

The Theme: A big thing that Michael struggles with is doing the right thing versus doing what he desires. He wants to stay in the real world in a real body but it isn’t right that’s a body stolen from a person who has his own life and people who love him. But he’s sacrificial and accepts his life in the digital world.

Content Cautions: There isn’t a ton of content, but there are a few parts to mention. Two kids die, a man slits his own throat, and a girl is shot in the chest. Hell is said twice as a swear and crap is said once.

What We Can Take Away For Our Writing:

Characters Don’t Need to be Kickbutt to Be Brave - At one point in the book, Michael manages to concoct a plan to use the bathroom and then use the lighting system to signal to an ally that he needs to be rescued. To do this he does risk getting hurt.

How this can be applied to writing: I feel like consumers don’t respect people at times in this genre who aren’t kickbutt but bravery comes in many different forms and if you can’t fight your way out then the smart thing to do is to call for help. There’s no shame in that.

Conclusion: Overall this was an okay book. Maybe the gap between books effected my experience but it had a satisfying ending yet it didn’t thrill me.

About the Author:
James Dashner is the author of the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series that includes The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, and The Kill Order. He has also written The Eye of Minds (book one in the Mortality Doctrine series), the 13th Reality series, and two books in The Infinity Ring series: A Mutiny in Time and The Iron Empire.
Dashner was born and raised in Georgia but now lives and writes in the Rocky Mountains. To learn more about James and his books, visit JamesDashner.com, follow @jamesdashner on Twitter, or find dashnerjames on Instagram.

Don't forget to check out the review for the first two books of the series, Eye of Minds and Rule of Thoughts!

Do you want a review of the other books by this author? Check out my reviews of the Maze Runnerthe Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure!

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