Title: The God Game
Author: Danny Tobey
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Page Count: 464
My rating: 3 stars
About the book:
A technological thriller with an all-too-believable premise, award-winning author Danny Tobey’s The God Game follows five teenagers obsessed with an online video game that connects them to their worst impulses and most dangerous desires.
They call themselves the Vindicators. Targeted by bullies and pressured by parents, these geeks and gamers rule the computer lab at Turner High School. Wealthy bad boy Peter makes and breaks rules. Vanhi is a punk bassist at odds with her heritage. Kenny’s creativity is stifled by a religious home life. Insecure and temperamental, Alex is an outcast among the outcasts. And Charlie, the leader they all depend on, is reeling from the death of his mother, consumed with reckless fury.
They each receive an invitation to play The God Game. Created by dark-web coders and maintained by underground hackers, the video game is controlled by a mysterious artificial intelligence that believes it is God. Obey the almighty A.I. and be rewarded. Defiance is punished. Through their phone screens and high-tech glasses, Charlie and his friends see and interact with a fantasy world superimposed over reality. The quests they undertake on behalf of “God” seem harmless at first, but soon the tasks have them questioning and sacrificing their own morality.
High school tormentors get their comeuppance. Parents and teachers are exposed a hypocrites. And the Vindicators’ behavior becomes more selfish and self-destructive as they compete against one another for prizes each believes will rescue them from their adolescent existence. But everything they do is being recorded. Hooded and masked thugs are stalking and attacking them. “God” threatens to expose their secrets if they attempt to quit the game. And losing the game means losing their lives.
You don’t play the Game. The Game plays you….
The God Game by Danny Tobey is a science fiction thriller that really had an overall horror vibe to it as well with the events getting darker and darker. I’ve seen this one compared to Ready Player One a lot and I suppose I see that in the group of teens playing the online game but minus all the fun pop culture 80s references as that was a lighter read than this one.
Charlie and his friends call themselves the Vindicators and they are seniors in high school but not exactly in on the popular crowd. This group of gamers receive an invite online to come play a game with an AI who is calling himself God. It seems that whoever is behind the game sees what they are doing and as the game goes on the tasks, rewards and punishments get higher and higher.
This story for me was one that hooked me in at the beginning but as time went by I personally thought it began to drag a bit. Being someone that has read a lot of virtual gaming books and also a lot of horror books that have the characters doing “dark” things along the way I kind of had a feeling of I’ve read this one before after a while and got a little edgy waiting to find out how it would all wrap up. I think personally for me if it had been shorter in length I would have enjoyed it more overall.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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About the Author:
Danny Tobey is the author of THE GOD GAME, on sale January 7, 2020 from St. Martin’s Press. He is a fifth-generation Texan and a graduate of 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.