#ATBR2020 – The God Game by Danny Tobey

Starting 2020 out with a bang! Gotta love when that happens.

Thanks to St. Martin’s press for the free early copies in exchange for our honest reviews

THE GOD GAME – Danny Tobey (Releasing January 7th, 2020)

Isn’t this cover gorgeous? Photos really don’t do it justice.

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Book Description:

You are invited!
Come inside and play with G.O.D.
Bring your friends!
It’s fun!
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.

Chandra’s Thoughts: 4/5 stars

In the era of gaming, artificial intelligence, algorithms and greed… who wouldn’t be intrigued if a game could make all your dreams come true if you won… but if you lose, you die?  I mean, it’s just a game… right?  And if you’re a gamer, and knew that hackers made this underground game… well, the temptation would be too great to not at least try it for a little bit!

This is definitely a book for a reader like me.  I LOVE gaming books.  I was never a huge, avid gamer, but I certainly did love my fair share of video games when I was younger.  I’m also extremely fascinated with how programs can take on a “life of their own” with some very interesting coding.  It also scares the begeezuz out of me.  Especially in this world where technology is pretty much ingrained in just about everything.  Now bring a game where morality starts to come into question. But by WHOSE standards?  A game of this or that.  What does anyone truly *deserve* – whether good or bad? And who gets to determine what that is?

How far are you willing to go?  What are you willing to sacrifice? If something is too good to be true, isn’t it? SO MANY QUESTIONS!  And once you’re in, YOU’RE IN. It’s like accelerating a game of life with sinister consequences and the further you dig, the deeper you get and you’re too far down to get back up and out.

There are several POVs throughout the read, short chapters, extremely fast paced and zoom zoom zoom – things are happening so quickly my head was spinning a bit.  But I enjoyed every bit of it.  I think some people will thing it’s a bit drawn out but for all that’s happening – well if it was shorter it may have made me suspend reality even faster and I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed it as much… if that makes any sense.

Now the ending… people who have read this already are curious as to what I think.  So, what I think is that it could’ve ended without that final chapter.  HOWEVER, I’m not surprised by it at all considering the whole premise of this whole shebang.  Though this might not be for everyone, if you like books such as Ready, Player, One, Warcross and Eye of Minds – I think this will be a solid read to add to your TBR.

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars

This book had me hooked from the very beginning. I wouldn’t consider myself a huge science fiction fan, but when it’s within the thriller genre, I tend to gives those a try. I’m so happy I picked up THE GOD GAME by Danny Tobey because I could not put it down. Once I started I didn’t want to stop – those short chapters are just the worst for my “one more chapter” mentality when it comes to reading.

We are introduced to Charlie, a high school senior that is struggling both at school and outside of it. With the death of his mother, his grades and extracurriculars took a nose dive, as did his relationship with his dad. The part he looks forward to most is his time in the computer labs with his group of friends, they call themselves The Vindicators. A group of five that consider themselves more outcasts and found friendship in each other and their shared love of computers and coding.

Peter shows Charlie a chatbot that calls itself God. Its origins are unknown but it is said to have been uploaded with all religious texts and more to where the AI now acts and believes it is God. After talking with it, Charlie receives a text from an unknown number that they believe to be this AI – and so begins the God Game. I loved this concept. It’s no secret that the advancements of AI are incredible, so this doesn’t feel entirely outside the realm of possibility, which is all kinds of scary to me.

I loved the characters and their development, I loved the short chapters, the writing was addictive, and I flew through this almost 500 page book. If you like science fiction thrillers and stuff that has to do with AI, then I would highly recommend this one for your early 2020 TBR.

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