The Rule of Thoughts

Warning: Read The Eye of Minds before proceeding with this post. Spoilers ahead!

I spent most of yesterday in a reading fog thanks to James Dashner. When I began my day, I was only a few pages into The Rule of Thoughts, book two of Dashner’s Mortality Doctrine trilogy. By 9:30 last night, I was finished with the book and moving on to the third installment, The Game of Lives (which will be released to the masses tomorrow, November 17th). So, yeah…I guess you could say that The Rule of Thoughts was just as gripping as the first book, The Eye of Minds.

The Rule of Thoughts picks up right where the first book ended. Michael now knows he’s a Tangent, a sentient computer program, and he has essentially taken over the body of someone else. He had no say in this process. Kaine, an evil Tangent bent on merging the virtual and real worlds, downloaded Michael into another’s body in an effort to further his own agenda, known as the Mortality Doctrine. But just how does Michael fit into Kaine’s plan? And is there anything he can do to stop the Mortality Doctrine before it’s too late?

As Michael deals with all of the problems that come with inhabiting a strange body in an unfamiliar world, he’s also attempting to reunite with Sarah and Bryson, his friends from the VirtNet. He knows that it will take all of them to defeat Kaine…and it still may not be enough.

It quickly becomes clear that Michael and his friends are being hunted by multiple parties, and they don’t know who they can trust. They’re basically fugitives in the real world, and Kaine is always on the look-out in the virtual world. Is there anywhere they can hide? How can they figure out what’s going on–and stop it–without endangering their freedom…or their lives?

Once again, Michael, Sarah, and Bryson are realizing that nothing is what it seems. Kaine is manipulating events and people to further his agenda…but there are some that are fighting against him. Will help come for Michael and company before Kaine’s insane plot becomes reality…or is the Mortality Doctrine already taking over?

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I’m going to wrap things up here…before I give too much away. Also, I really want to dive back into The Game of Lives, the third and final (?) book in the series.

I will say, though, that The Rule of Thoughts is an exciting, action-packed read that continues to convince me that I will never be a gamer. It is an excellent book that keeps readers interested from start to finish. Like The Eye of Minds, I highly recommend this to readers in middle grades and up.

For more on The  The Mortality Doctrine, visit the Dashner Army website. You can also connect with author James Dashner on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The Eye of Minds

When I read The Maze Runner series, I immediately became a fan of James Dashner. I fully intended to read the first book in his next YA series, The Eye of Minds (book one of The Mortality Doctrine), the minute it came out. Sadly, though, that didn’t quite happen.

Now, it’s two years later, and I just finished this first book. The second book, The Rule of Thoughts, is already out, and the third book, The Game of Lives, will be released next month. (There’s also a prequel novella, Gunner Skale, that’s out.) Well, I may be a bit late to the party, but there is an upside here. No long, agonzing wait for the next book! As soon as I finish a few other reads-in-progress, I can dive right back into the world Dashner created for this Mortality Doctrine series. And let me tell you, it is quite the interesting–and often horrifying–world…

The “real world” holds little appeal for Michael. He is a gamer, and, like many other people around him, he spends the majority of his time in the VirtNet, or the virtual world that offers a totally realistic, immersive experience, especially if one has the hacking skills to get everything he desires. (Michael does.) But for Michael, things in the VirtNet are about to get all too real…

When Michael witnesses a girl committing suicide in the VirtNet–and realizes that she’s also killing herself in the real world–he comes to understand that all is not what it seems here. And when the VNS, a government agency, solicits his help in tracking down someone who can only be described as a cyber-killer, Michael must decide if he wants to remain blissfully ignorant or if he’s willing to risk his life to find Kaine, the greatest–and most dangerous–gamer the world has ever seen.

Michael soon realizes that he has no choice in the matter. If he doesn’t do what the VNS asks of him, everything he knows and loves will be in peril. So Michael enlists the help of his two best (virtual) friends, and the trio goes on a quest to locate–and hopefully stop–the mysterious Kaine.

Even for a group of gifted hackers, though, this experience is like nothing they’ve ever encountered before. Danger lurks around every corner, and it appears that Kaine is leading them exactly where he wants them to go. At times, they are not hunting Kaine. They are the hunted.

The lines between the real and virtual worlds disappear for Michael and friends the closer they get to Kaine. Will they be able to finish their quest? What will they discover about Kaine in the process? What is his endgame, and why is Michael such an important part of it? Is there any way for Michael and his friends to make it out of this “game” with their minds–and their lives–intact?

Uncover the truth when you read The Eye of Minds by James Dashner.

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I am not a gamer. (It’s probably the only non-geeky thing about me.) After reading The Eye of Minds, I will not be gaming anytime soon. It freaked me the crap out. My mind is already a fairly dark place, so I don’t need to add to that by immersing myself in a video game….especially one that is controlled by a maniac with his own nefarious agenda.

I think the scariest part of this particular book–and perhaps the entire series–is that I can see it happening in the not-too-distant future. Technology takes over more aspects of our lives daily, so it’s not too much of a stretch that it could one day take over our minds…or our bodies. Now, I’m not advocating doing away with all technology. That’s absurd. (Also, I’m a school librarian, a webmaster, and a blogger. Technology is kind of my bread and butter most of the time.) I’m just saying that it could be dangerous in some instances, especially when it takes over everything else or is placed in the wrong hands. This book definitely shines a light on that and could lead to some interesting ethical discussions.

For those wondering if this book is okay for middle grade readers, I would say that it is. Like The Maze Runner series, it is scary, action-packed, and will definitely keep readers guessing. The book has its fair share of violence, and some younger readers may not be prepared for just how terrifying things get, so watch out for that. I would say, though, that this book is a great pick for libraries that serve middle grade, YA, and adult readers. There something here for everyone, especially patrons who’d rather play video games than do nearly anything else.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, the second book in the series is already out, and the third will be out on November 17th. I’m hoping to get to both of them very soon. (Thanks to NetGalley, I don’t even have to wait until next month to read The Game of Lives. It’s on my Kindle right now!) I’ll be back with my thoughts on both of those books as soon as I get around to reading them.

Until then…check out more on The Mortality Doctrine on the Dashner Army website. You can also connect with the author via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You may also want to take a look at the video below for a teaser trailer for The Eye of Minds. Enjoy.

I Am the Mission

Caution! It is imperative that you read I Am the Weapon, book one in Allen Zadoff’s Unknown Assassin series, before continuing with book two, I Am the Mission. This message will self-destruct in 3…2…1…

Just kidding. This message won’t do anything. But seriously, read the first book.

As you’ve probably gathered, I recently read I Am the Mission, the nerve-wracking sequel to I am the Weapon. This second installment picks up shortly after the conclusion of book one, and it is quite the page-turner.

I Am the Mission came out on June 17th, and some of you may have seen it under a couple of different titles: The Lost Mission or Fearless. (Thanks to NetGalley, I read a digital proof of the book with The Lost Mission as its title.) No matter what the title, though, the book is gripping and continues to follow the life of young man who works as an assassin for a group known only as The Program. This teenager moves from one identity, one assignment, to the next, and his only concerns are to eliminate his targets and protect The Program at all costs. During his last mission, however, he began to question his orders, and that tiny seed of doubt is creeping in once again…

After going off the grid for a bit–to come to grips with his last mission and to get his head on straight–this boy, who we’ve previously known as Ben, is pulled back into The Program. His loyalty is being questioned, and he knows he’ll have to suppress his doubts to keep his handlers from deciding he’s too much of a threat to their organization. One way to do that is to complete the next mission he’s given.

When another operative for The Program is seemingly terminated, our boy–who now goes by Daniel–is tasked with completing this lost mission. His job is to kill Eugene Moore, a man who runs Camp Liberty and appears to be amassing an army of young people for the express purpose of overthrowing the government and/or committing acts of domestic terrorism.

The job should have been an easy in-and-out, but things quickly grow complicated, and Daniel finds himself being led to Moore’s training camp with no way of getting word to The Program. His only option now is to become a part of Camp Liberty, get close to Moore’s kids, and look for another opportunity to eliminate this new threat to national security. It isn’t easy, though. This camp takes its own protection very seriously, and not everyone trusts the new guy sniffing around.

As Daniel learns more about the camp and its leader, he tries to get word to The Program about what is going on…but his efforts amount to nothing. He cannot reach anyone, and, after a harrowing episode at what should have been a safe house, Daniel seriously questions what has happened to The Program. Has their security been breached? Has this secret organization been disabled? Or is there something much more sinister at work? Something, perhaps, targeted at Daniel himself?

Questions abound for Daniel on this chaotic mission, but he remains determined to carry out his orders…even when he learns that The Program has not exactly been truthful with him. Daniel must act without mercy against those who would seek to do harm to the country. To do that, he will have to put aside fear, potential friendships, and his own safety to see this mission to its explosive end. Will Daniel’s efforts be enough? Will he uncover The Program’s secrets in the process? Only time will tell, and that may be running out for young Daniel…

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I think I mentioned in my post on I Am the Weapon that our protagonist in this series can’t really be called a hero. If anything, I’d label his as an anti-hero. In the end, yes, he does demonstrate some heroic tendencies, but Daniel–or whatever you want to call him–has questionable loyalties sometimes, he’s been known to blindly follow orders, and he is, let’s face it, an assassin. Even when he has doubts about how someone fits into what’s going on, he kills them if they get in his way. (If you couldn’t tell, one of the deaths in this book kind of bothered me. I didn’t think this person needed to die. Daniel felt differently.) With all of that, though, I still found myself rooting for him. I wanted him to question his orders. I hoped he would put an end to the brainwashing going on at Camp Liberty. I wished for him to come out of everything unharmed. Unharmed, but determined to finally uncover the truth about The Program. For the most part, I think I got what I wanted.

For those considering purchasing this book–and its predecessor–for personal or school/classroom libraries, I feel I must give a word of caution. This series is, in my humble opinion, written for a young adult audience. It is violent at times (which fits with a protagonist who is an assassin), and there are a couple of sexual situations. Language was true to the setting, but some younger readers (and their parents) may have problems with it. Also, there are some political issues in this book that require some serious, intense thought and knowledge of the current political climate in the United States. For all of those reasons, I would recommend this series to readers in tenth grade and up. These books are written for an audience with some maturity. (No offense intended to anyone reading this who is a ninth grader or younger.)

If you’re interested in The Unknown Assassin series or other books by Allen Zadoff, check out his website.

There’s no word yet on when we can expect the next book in this series, but, given how things ended in I Am the Mission, I hope it’s soon!

United We Spy

Spoilers! Don’t read this if you haven’t kept up with Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series. I just finished the sixth and final book in the series, and I’ll be talking about this book and the series as a whole in just a bit. Check out my posts on the first five books in the series below.

Now…onward to United We Spy!

For those still with me, I guess you’ve figured out that I finally finished reading United We Spy, the last book in Ally Carter’s thrilling Gallagher Girls series.  This final installment was, perhaps, the most action-packed of the entire series, and the fascinating characters I’ve come to know are putting everything they ever learned at the Gallagher Academy to the test. Their ultimate mission? Save the world. No biggie, right?

Cammie Morgan is starting her last semester at the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women. She should be worrying about senior pictures, college admissions, and final exams…but those things don’t matter all that much when the fate of the entire world could be in your hands. Cammie and her friends are facing a plot to engage the world in an epic war…and it’s up to them to stop it.

Cammie, Bex, Liz, Macey, and Zach may have been training for years to be spies, but their training may not have prepared them for everything that’s about to unfold. They’ll have to brave the harshest of elements, breaking into a super-maximum security prison, and heavily-armed enemies to prevent all-out war. And when it’s revealed that the enemy’s plans were hatched from the mind of a Gallagher Girl–someone very close to Cammie–things become even more intense.

These Gallagher Girls (and Guy) can’t trust or depend on anyone but themselves right now…but will their own efforts be enough to save the world? Can they put everything they’ve learned at the Gallagher Academy to use before the enemy, the dreaded Circle of Cavan, succeeds in its mission to start World War Three? What secrets will be revealed in the process, and will everyone make it out of this battle alive?

Things are coming to a head at the Gallagher Academy, and everything is about to change. Will Cammie and company succeed in preventing war, and if they do…what then? What does the future hold for Cammie and her friends? One thing is certain–Cammie has to get out of this fight alive (and relatively well) before she can even think about her future…whatever it may be.

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United We Spy is an action-packed read that kept me hooked from the first page. It built on everything from the previous books, and it showed just how much a group of strong young women is capable of accomplishing. (No, I’m not discounting the contributions of the guys in the series. I’m just saying that the series as a whole focuses on the ladies, their abilities, and their tremendous strength in adverse situations.) I hope this series will inspire more young women to be confident in their own abilities–whether it’s being a spy, a musician, a public speaker, a writer, whatever.

I thoroughly enjoyed the way things played out in this book, and I thought the conclusion–oddly reminiscent of the final battle of Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows–was particularly fitting. I hate to say goodbye to the characters I’ve come to know and love in these six books, but I take comfort in the fact that I can revisit them anytime I want.

If you’d like more information on this series and other books by Ally Carter, go to http://allycarter.com/. You may also enjoy the United We Spy book trailer below. It doesn’t give much of anything away, but it does provide just a glimpse into what it means to be a Gallagher Girl.

I hope you enjoy the Gallagher Girls series as much as I have. It’s been wild!