Last year, I got an email from St. Martin Press asking if people were interested in being part of a blog tour for a new sci-fi book coming out. I had recently started up my blog and I’d always thought being part of a blog tour would be an exciting opportunity. Then I noticed that the book was being compared to Ready Player One and I couldn’t sign up fast enough! Ready Player One is one of my all time favorites and I’ve been looking for something that could compare for awhile! So I want to say a hearty THANK YOU to St. Martin’s Press, Netgalley, and the author for sending me a free book in exchange for an honest review and for letting me be a part of this tour!
You are invited!
Come inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!
But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE.™ Lose, you die!
With those words, Charlie and his friends enter the G.O.D. Game, a video game run by underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious AI that believes it’s God. Through their phone-screens and high-tech glasses, the teens’ realities blur with a virtual world of creeping vines, smoldering torches, runes, glyphs, gods, and mythical creatures. When they accomplish a mission, the game rewards them with expensive tech, revenge on high-school tormentors, and cash flowing from ATMs. Slaying a hydra and drawing a bloody pentagram as payment to a Greek god seem harmless at first. Fun even.
But then the threatening messages start. Worship me. Obey me. Complete a mission, however cruel, or the game reveals their secrets and crushes their dreams. Tasks that seemed harmless at first take on deadly consequences. Mysterious packages show up at their homes. Shadowy figures start following them, appearing around corners, attacking them in parking garages. Who else is playing this game, and how far will they go to win?
And what of the game’s first promise: win, win big, lose, you die? Dying in a virtual world doesn’t really mean death in real life—does it?
As Charlie and his friends try to find a way out of the game, they realize they’ve been manipulated into a bigger web they can’t escape: an AI that learned its cruelty from watching us.
God is always watching, and He says when the game is done.
- Author: Danny Tobey
- Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
- Publication date: January 7th, 2020
- Pages: 496
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Content Warnings: Suicide, violence
Danny Tobey is a fifth-generation Texan. He went to Harvard College, Yale Law School, and UT Southwestern medical school. Harvard gave Danny the Edward Eager prize “for the best creative writing.” He wrote and edited the Harvard Lampoon and was anthologized in The Best of the Harvard Lampoon: 140 Years of American Humor.Danny’s first novel, the sci-fi fantasy thriller The Faculty Club, came out from Simon & Schuster. Danny is a noted expert on Artificial Intelligence. In 2019, the Library of Congress gave Danny the Burton Award for his work on AI and the law.
Holy &*#%, this was a WILD ride! It was blurbed as a page-turner and it did not disappoint!
We start this story following a teenager named Charlie. Charlie’s mom has recently died of cancer, his dad has completely checked out, and he has completely checked out of school, going from top of his class to very near the bottom. The one thing that brings him any kind of solace these days is hanging out with his friends in the Tech Room doing “nerdy” things, like building robots and coding. One day, Charlie is introduced to an AI that calls itself God, which leads to an invite to a very interesting game…
Let me just say that this book did not have me sold at the very beginning. It had a slow start establishing who our main characters were and the entire premise of the G.O.D game. But, once the game aspect of the book really kicked in, I was absolutely HOOKED! The pacing afterwards was just spot on. It was high octane and engaging enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. And the game itself! Oh, I absolutely loved how the game was woven into the story. The details were magnificent, the science kept me thinking, and the action wasn’t too over-the-top. It was real and intense and terrifying at times and I LOVED IT!
The characters were a little less to my liking, though they definitely got better as the story progressed. They all felt like they were lacking depth, at first. Charlie was a kid who lost his mom and lost his way and… that was it. He was someone I’d seen in a million after school specials and I just wasn’t feeling it. As I got deeper into the story, however, and saw how Charlie grappled with some serious questions about morality, he started gaining depth and I found myself enjoying his character a lot more. The same holds true for his core group of friends. They all grew into far more interesting characters than they had been at the beginning of this book.
They were all terrible, but that’s neither here nor there. And, honestly, who wasn’t when they were a teenager?
I will say that the perspective shifts sometimes threw me off and the word choices were not always the best, but, in the end, this was an incredibly enjoyable read that I had a hard time putting down. Did it live up to the Ready Player One comparison? In a way, yes. The game aspect of this story definitely kicked in some memories of the Oasis from RPO. Beyond that, it had a very different feel, but this book definitely stands on it’s own two feet, as well.
Final thoughts: This was an amazing sci-fi adventure that had a bit of a slow start but was a gripping story once the game really got rolling. If you’re looking for a fast-paced thrill ride with morally grey characters, you can’t go wrong with this book!