Like most people with access to the VirtNet, Michael spends more time in the Sleep than in the physical world. He skips school, rarely interacts with his parents, and has to force himself to do anything other than game, game, game. He and his two best friends, Bryson and Sarah, are determined to get into Lifeblood Deep, a level that’s only accessible to the best and brightest hackers around.

The intrepid teens aren’t over-estimating their skill level. The three of them are a great team, and they haven’t gone unnoticed, either: not by the people who police the VirtNet, and not by Kaine, the terrorist who’s trying to destroy it—and maybe even the outside world—from the inside.

Now they’re being blackmailed by Virtual Network Security: Head into the VirtNet and find Kaine’s lair, or be banned for life. So, into the Sleep they go, on the trail of a man who’s claimed responsibility for not just erasing people online, but in the real world as well.

James Dashner’s newest book, The Eye of Minds, is a little bit Maze Runner and a little bit Game of Triumphs, a little bit The Matrix and a little bit Blade Runner. Like the Maze Runner series—especially the sequels and prequel—the focus is far heavier on the action and the plotting than on characterization, and the third-person narrator tends to tell readers what our hero is feeling, rather than showing us (Michael knew his friends could see the anxiety on his face). For the most part*, though, it’s a solid techno-action adventure and I have no doubt that the Dashner Army will not only be super happy with it, but will immediately start clamoring for the inevitable sequel.

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For readers who’d like something a bit more…involved, in terms of character and emotional engagement—and if not, that’s TOTALLY OKAY, because to each her own and all that—here are a couple of titles that I, personally, found more satiating:

Erebos:I liked this genre-bender quite a bit more than Kirkus did, and as it’s about a possibly-murderous computer game that has real-life implications, the parallels are obvious. Like The Eye of Minds, it’s got plenty of action, but it’s a much more suspenseful and atmospheric read.

Conjured: This one is a stretch, as the books are so different on the surface, but I loved Conjured so much that I’ll use any excuse to mention it: Note, though, that my next sentence could be viewed as an extremely vague spoiler. Both books deal heavily with the concept of humanity, and what it means to be human, and in both cases, the reader isn’t really privy to that fact until the story is over. As I said, the books are hugely, VASTLY different, but somehow, that makes the parallel all the more striking.

Speaking of Conjured! Cybils nominations opened on October 1st. If you haven’t already thrown your favorites into the ring, don’t miss your opportunity!


*Here’s one thing that drove me bananas, and it is very MINOR INDEED. Agent Weber of the VNS is described, twice, as having “exotic eyes.” Which is a descriptor that really DOESN’T TELL ME ANYTHING. It’s a totally subjective word, dependent on what is “exotic” to Michael, and as such, it is meaningless and annoying. Rant over.**

**And now I am embarrassed for displaying just how ridiculously focused on minutiae I can get.

If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy might be making stuff for her Etsy shop while re-watching Veronica Mars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Babylon 5, Black Books or Twin Peaks. Well, that or she’s hanging out on Twitter. Or both.