Book Review: The Rule of Thoughts by James DashnerThe Rule of Thoughts by James Dashner
Series: Mortality Doctrine #2
Published by Delacorte Press on August 26, 2014
Genres: YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Young Adult
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Michael completed the Path. What he found at the end turned everything he’d ever known about his life—and the world—completely upside down.

He barely survived. But it was the only way VirtNet Security knew to find the cyber-terrorist Kaine—and to make the Sleep safe for gamers once again. And, the truth Michael discovered about Kaine is more complex than they anticipated, and more terrifying than even the worst of their fears.

Kaine is a tangent, a computer program that has become sentient. And Michael’s completing the Path was the first stage in turning Kaine’s master plan, the Mortality Doctrine, into a reality.

The Mortality Doctrine will populate Earth entirely with human bodies harboring tangent minds. Any gamer who sinks into the VirtNet risks coming out with a tangent intelligence in control of their body.

And the takeover has already begun.

Just to give a recap, the Mortality Doctrine series starts with The Eye of Minds, where James Dashner introduces a world of advanced technology, cyber-terrorists, and hardcore gaming. The main character, Michael, is a die-hard gamer of the VirtNet, a video game that offers total mind and body immersion. He’s also an accomplished hacker together with his best buds Sarah and Bryson. Trouble in gaming paradise ensues when one gamer holds players hostage in the VirtNet, leaving them brain-dead in the process. Michael is tapped by the government to catch this mysterious fiend, and he, along with his friends, get caught up in the risky operation that leaves readers hanging.

I had a meh reaction with the first book as I had problems understanding the world building and appreciating the characters. If you’ve read the entire Maze Runner series, you’d know that Dashner has this thing about cliffhangers in his books. To be fair, he writes the cliffhangers really well that you’d be inclined to want to learn more about what happens next. That’s what happened to me. I didn’t necessarily rave about The Eye of Minds, but curiosity got the better of me, so here I was reading book 2. And it still left me feeling meh.

The Rule of Thoughts picked up the remnants of the story after that explosive revelation in the first book. It was pretty much easy to get into the story since Dashner’s prose is action-packed and engaging. In the second book, Michael wakes up…not Michael. The hang-ups I had in the first book were still not resolved in this one, i.e., a world that expects readers to understand terminologies without the proper explanation or context, and too many pep talks without the actual “doing”. I couldn’t recall the many times Sarah and Michael actually knew things at the snap of a finger. I was like…what’s the logical explanation for this? How can a bunch of kids, even if they’re pretty good hackers at that, know the exact spot of the bad guy’s hideout when the government can’t even crack the mystery? How did they know something wasn’t going to work at the onset?

Dashner also has this thing about introducing a character, have them disappear throughout the entire chunk of the story, and have them reappear again when there’s a need for conflict. And this thing when the main character has a foreboding feeling of disaster and then completely ignores it. It’s also pretty obvious how Dashner withholds the juiciest information, spreads the story so thin, cut to cliffhanger, and ask readers to wait until the next book. WTF, right?

The sad part is that I’m still gonna get myself a copy of The Game of Lives. I know I’m such a glutton for punishment, but I need answers. I’m just going to cross my fingers it’s not gonna be as deus ex machina-ey like The Maze Runner series.

Series Reading Order: The Eye of Minds, The Rule of Thoughts, The Game of Lives (out on November 17, 2015)