“Sometimes the only way was through, coming out bloody and tarnished on the other side.”
Rating: 4/5 stars
Format: Physical copy
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Thank you St. Martin’s Press for sending me a review copy in exchange for a honest review!
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.
Well, this was quite the ride and I have to say I really enjoyed it. Sometimes sci-fi books can really be hit or miss for me so I’m always a little hesitant to pick them up, however, when I read the synopsis of this one I knew I needed to give it a go. And honestly, I’m really glad I spent my New Years Eve finishing this bad boy because it was HIGHLY entertaining compared to my husband dying on the couch from the man-flu and kept me reading all night long. From the characters secrets, to the missions, to the betrayals, I couldn’t get enough of this and devoured over half of this book in one sitting.
The diverse group of teens in The God Game aren’t the most popular gang in high school but they try to keep their heads low and pass their years by playing video games and calling themselves the Vindicators. When an invitation to join the God Game comes their way the teens accept it not knowing just how intense the game is about to become. It starts off easy, and almost innocent but as the virtual world and real world mesh together the stakes get high, missions get harder, and rewards turn deadly. There are some parts of this book that readers may find unsettling or difficult to read through so I have included a list of trigger warnings that I picked up on which can be found at the end of my review.
One of the things that worked so well for this book were the short chapters, multiple POV’s, and the writing. It was all so fantastically put together. And while multiple POV’s can always sound daunting the author does a great job of giving you just enough of each character’s backstory to leave you wanting more on top of the danger they’re already in. Each teen’s story slowly unravels throughout the book and as that happens we find out what each character is willing to do to have their deepest secrets remain unknown. Whether it be faking a good grade, loving one of the other characters, pinning a death on someone else, or major family secrets there is a WHOLE lot more going on in this book than just the game and it makes it all the more intriguing. Plus the end, whew Lord, I was shocked, blown away, and loved every second of it!
My only slight issue with this book was that it was very obvious that the author understands AI on an expert level, which also makes it very obvious that I do not. As Charlie and the Vindicators were coming up with a way to try and defeat The God Game and were talking about code and how AI’s work I was utterly lost. There were some parts of the book where I just couldn’t understand where the author was going because of my lack of knowledge. It definitely wasn’t enough to make me want to put the book down, but enough to where I just had to chalk it up to not understanding and move on hoping it will make a little more sense down the road. But I would say that I like to think it did work out fine enough having to do it that way.
All in all, if you’re looking for a dark, edgy, fast-paced, thrilling type of read than I would definitely recommend The God Game. If you enjoyed Marie Lu’s Warcross where the virtual world meets the real world I would definitely recommend heading to the bookstore and grabbing yourself a copy because The God Game hits the shelves today!
tw: racism, homophobia, fat-shaming, suicide attempt, death of an animal, bullying, domestic violence, death of a parent
Until next time,