The Eye of Minds, by James Dashner

I have never understood James Dashner's success. He has some fun ideas, and his best-selling Maze Runner series definitely came out at the perfect, immediately-post-Hunger Games time, but his characters are incredibly boring. But he has zillions of fans who obviously feel otherwise, so I did my best to approach his new book The Eye of Minds without preconceptions.

In a world where the Internet has become a completely immersive experience known as VirtNet, teenagers Michael, Sarah and Bryson have carved out a niche for themselves as up-and-coming coder talent. The trio have never met in reality, but they're digital BFFs, so when Michael is blackmailed into helping the authorities hunt down a dangerous, renegade gamer, Bryson and Sarah are determined to help. Their search requires them to hack their way into virtual clubs, war zones, and the circus from hell, and exposes them to incredible danger... which, for the first time, has real-world consequences.

Sadly, I have to stand by my earlier assessment of Dashner's writing: he has zero characterization skills. Without divulging any secrets, there is some plot-based justification for Michael's flat demeanor, but there is no excuse for Bryson and Sarah, who trail after Michael like robotic, charm-free versions of Ron and Hermione. (You will be unsurprised to discover that Sarah is bossy and competent, while Bryson is fond of cracking terrible jokes.) Dashner does cook up a tantalizing plot hook, and I admit I'm curious as to how his story will work out—but his protagonists' total lack of personality guarantees that I will be be just as happy reading a Wikipedia plot summary of the series as I would the actual books.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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