The Game of Lives

Danger! Danger! If you’re new to James Dashner’s Mortality Doctrine trilogy, turn back now. Spoilers ahead. If, however, you’ve read The Eye of Minds and The Rule of Thoughts and want a quick look at the final installment, The Game of Lives, keep on truckin’.

As you’ve no doubt gathered, I’ve finally wrapped up The Game of Lives, the third and final book in the thrilling Mortality Doctrine trilogy by James Dashner. This last book really ramped up the action and suspense, and there were so many twists and turns that I started to get whiplash at one point. That’s pretty high praise for a sci-fi adventure book like this one.

Michael and his friends Sarah and Bryson are once again on the run. They’ve been manipulated by the very entity, the VNS, that claimed to be on their side. The VNS is still determined to put an end to the Mortality Doctrine* (the brainchild of the vile Tangent, Kaine), but at what cost? What is this organization and their leader, Agent Weber, willing to do–what lies are they willing to tell–to bring Kaine’s master plan tumbling down?

*For those who need a reminder, the Mortality Doctrine involves inserting Tangent (sentient program) consciousness into human bodies. It’s pretty complicated, but this final book does explain the ins and outs. At least, I think so. I don’t pretend to understand all of it. Probably because I’m not a maniacal computer genius.

Michael’s not certain exactly what Agent Weber is up to, but he and his friends may have to do the unthinkable–join forces with Kaine–to prevent the agent’s machinations. Both Michael and Kaine want to stop the VNS and Agent Weber, but can they work together long enough to bring the organization’s horrifying plans to an end?

But what exactly is Kaine’s endgame? Is he still hell-bent on enacting the Mortality Doctrine? Why? What could he possibly have to gain from it…and why is Michael so important to his plans? What will happen if Michael and Kaine manage to stop the VNS? Will Kaine then try to do whatever possible to enact his own terrible undertaking?

Can Michael stop two separate–and equally terrifying–enemies from inflicting their wills on the world? What will he lose in the process? Friends? Allies? His own tenuous grip on humanity? Who will ultimately win in this game of lives?


I’ve already said too much, so I’m going to begin wrapping things up. I will say that the ending of this book came as something of a relief. When you’ve been on the edge of your seat for so long, it’s nice to finally be able to lean back and breathe–a feeling the book’s characters could relate to if they really were sentient. (In a parallel world, they might be. Who really knows?)

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t completely get all of the gaming lingo in the book (and the rest of the series, really), but that in no way detracted from my enjoyment. I continue to maintain, though, that this series only cements my decision to never take up gaming. I’m already fairly paranoid; I don’t need to worry that a sentient gaming program is going to take over my brain.

The Mortality Doctrine trilogy is, in my most humble opinion, a good fit for libraries that serve middle grade, teen, and adult readers. If readers are looking for an action-packed sci-fi adventure, these books are highly recommended. Gamers, especially, may gravitate to this series.

Those who read this series may also want to take a look at Gunner Skale, a novella centered around one of the greatest gamers in the VirtNet. We met him briefly in The Eye of Minds, but this short story goes a little deeper (though not as deep as I would have liked). It also gives a look at the beginning of the Mortality Doctrine, the humane ways it was meant to be used, and how that came crashing down.

For more on The Mortality Doctrine and The Game of Lives, visit the Dashner Army website. You can also connect with author James Dashner on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I hope you enjoy this series as much as I did. Happy reading!

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?


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.


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.