August Recap by Hadley Willman, grade 11

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

The YA book club met this month to talk about The Eye of Minds, book one in the newly completed Mortality Doctrine series by James Dashner, fan favorite author of The Maze Runner. In this world, hardly any time aside from work, school, and sleep is spent in the real world. All you have to do is lie down in the Coffin, close the lid, let technology do its work, and you’re transported to wherever you want to go in the wonderful online world of the VirtNet with all the smells, tastes, and sensory immersion needed to make it feel real.

Michael is a gamer—more specifically, a hacker. At his side are his best friends Bryson and Sarah, and together they make their way through the VirtNet, using their hacking skills whenever necessary to have a good time. Things go from fun to deadly serious when Michael is recruited by the government to catch a hacker in the VirtNet named Kaine who has been holding players hostage in the game. A person can’t survive in the Coffin for more than a few days, and as a result, these captive players have been found brain-dead inside their Coffins in real life. VNS, a Virtnet-specific government agency, wants Michael and his friends to use their hacking skills to track Kaine down for them before they deal the killing blow, but they can’t help but ask themselves, if the government can’t find a man in their own servers, how can three teenagers?

Hope was high for members of the book club who had previously read the Maze Runner from this author, but almost everyone was greatly disappointed. Overall, the pace was too fast as the story jumped from one action scene to another, leaving no time to breathe and no time for character development. Each scene went by too quickly to leave that much of an impact on the readers. Before we had a chance to pause and think things over alongside the characters, the moment was over and they were moving on.

One of the main problems for us was that the three main characters were practically interchangeable. They each did an equal share of the work along the way, but sometimes it even seemed like Bryson and Sarah were doing it all and left no room for Michael to take a leading role as the main protagonist. Throughout the book, he’s treated like the “chosen one,” but nothing he does is incredibly special when compared to his friends. Their lack of distinct personalities also made it difficult for us to buy into the bit of romance Dashner tried to fit into the story.

Another major question we had was: why did Michael and his friends accept this incredibly deadly task when they had first-hand experience of how being involved could end someone’s life? The scene where the VNS explains what they needed Michael to do goes by way too quickly, and we agreed that they didn’t do a good enough job to have convinced us to set our lives on the line if we were in Michael’s place. Dashner seemed to rush a lot of scenes and as a result, everything seemed too easy.

As a whole, we’d be interested to see the book made into a movie because we thought the book had a lot of potential, especially visually. Dashner seemed to focus all his effort into writing detail on the surroundings of the world they were in, but left a lot of room to improve on giving each character their own personalities and letting them interact with each other in new ways. While the book was a visual feat, there were too many rushed scenes and too many rushed character interactions for us to make us want to continue reading the series, and we gave the book an average of 2.5/5 stars.

August Recap by Hadley Willman, grade 11

Find this book in our catalog:  The Eye of Minds

Call Number:  YA SF DASHNER,J

310 pages

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