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The Eye of Minds: The Mortality Doctrine    by James Dashner order for
Eye of Minds
by James Dashner
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2014 (2013)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

James Dashner, of Maze Runner fame, launches an exciting new series with The Eye of Minds, first in The Mortality Doctrine. It's set in a future in which people (like our teen hero Michael) spend as much time as they can in the Virtnet, in particular experiencing a reality game called Lifeblood.

Michael hangs out there with his virtual friends Bryson and Sarah (they've never met in person). One day, Michael is on his own in Lifeblood, trying to garner experience points to get to the next level, Lifeblood Deep, by persuading a young woman not to jump off the Golden Gate bridge. But Tanya is not only a virtual suicide - after ranting about Kaine and his KillSims, she rips out her Core and kills her real self too.

In shock, Michael sets up a meet with Bryson and Sarah, and tells them all. Soon afterwards he's abducted by agents of the VNS (VirtNet Security). Agent Diane Weber enlists him to use his hacking skills to find something hidden in the VirtNet, the Mortality Doctrine. She tells him that Kaine is a cyber-terrorist, trapping people in the VirtNet, where they are 'driven to decoding their own Cores.'

So Michael heads back to Sarah and Bryson and the game is on. But it soon becomes clear that Kaine is aware of what they are doing. What follows is a perilous quest through virtual realities, where their combined talents are needed just to stay alive. They go up against KillSims, arctic battles, demonic monsters, and a lava cavern - but they don't all make it.

Michael does eventually meet Kaine and learns his own role in the Mortality Doctrine - and it's a shocking one. The major twist at the end of this first episode sets the scene nicely for further action-packed adventures for Michael and his friends. Can't wait.

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