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Book review: Dashner creates a virtual race to save humanity

Posted April 19

"THE GAME OF LIVES," by James Dashner, Delacorte Press, $18.99, 336 pages (f) (ages 12 and up)

The final installment in James Dashner’s Mortality Doctrine series, “The Game of Lives,” dives deep into the possibilities of the virtual world. Because this book is the third in a series, there is some catching up needed for the reader who may not have read the previous two books. In this young adult sci-fi novel, technology has reached a level of sophistication where some computer programs, called Tangents, have become sentient and begun to secretly take over the bodies of humans while they are immersed in the virtual world.

The first of these Tangents, Michael, has found himself in the middle of a battle with no clear idea of who the enemy is, humans or Tangents. With the help of his three friends, all of whom are human, and his former nanny, Helga, a Tangent like Michael, he faces an ever-morphing enemy. Michael has long believed Kaine, who enacted the Mortality Doctrine, to be the enemy he’s fighting, but as the truth presents itself, the line between good and evil is blurred.

Michael and his friends uncover dark secrets surrounding the Mortality Doctrine. As it turns out, the very program designed to give immortality could mean the end of safe existence in the waking world. The book is full of twists and turns that make it difficult to decipher virtual reality from waking existence, a challenge the characters face as well.

This novel dives deep into the potential of a virtual realm. The waking world provides an eerie place for the characters to navigate, but most of the hard-hitting scenes are created within a virtual environment where only the imagination limits the possibilities. As a Tangent, Michael has the ability to create computer code at an alarming speed, giving him the special abilities he needs to not only uncover the truth but also fight for the right to exist.

Those enamored with the possibilities of a virtual world will find this book a thrilling ride that asks the question of whether sentience equals the right to exist. While the science is intriguing, the relationships between the characters keep the storyline relatable.

"The Game of Lives" has mild to moderate violence throughout the book with no sexual innuendo or foul language. The paperback will be released May 2.

Stacey L. Nash is a freelance writer/blogger and full-time kid wrangler. Website: <a href='http://www.staceylnashwrites.com/' target='_blank'>staceylnashwrites.com</a>

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