book reviews, spoiler free

The God Game

Book Review

50275977._SY475_The God Game by Danny Tobey

Rating: XXXX

Published January 9th 2019 by Gollancz

“So said God, or at least the first artifical intelligence bot claiming to inhabit the persona of God.”

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, smouldering 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.

Towards the end of last year, the Stevie from Gollancz offered two ARCS out to people chosen at random and then each of those got to choose another person each to receive the same arc. I missed out on the first try but then the lovely Rebecca from ReviewsFeed chose me to receive a copy of The God Game with her! I finally managed to get around to reading it this month and I have been absolutely hooked the past few days. It sounded like it was a mix between Ready Player One and the more recently released Ctrl +S both of which I enjoyed immensely so I was fairly confident I would enjoy this and let me tell you if you enjoyed either of the books I’ve mentioned you will love this. I will say though that The God Game has a lot more sinister of a plotline than Ready Player One and there isn’t that 80’s nostalgia high to add to it (unless you count the War Games feel to parts of it) but it shines in its own completely different way and I’m so very here for it.

I’d also like to add there are definitely some content/trigger warnings some should be aware of, such as suicide and suicidal thoughts, bullying and minor drug use (I think I’ve covered them all but if I’ve missed any let me know and I’ll make sure to add them to my review.). 

To begin with, I sighed at the seemingly stereotypical set up in The God Game, the group of “nerdy” boys with the “token” girl that one of them is probably in love with and that stereotype is definitely here to a degree but in a way that is done really well. It’s not over the top or in your face and is barely mentioned but when it is it is done so to an organic way that’s hard to explain without spoilers so I won’t say any more but just wanted to give a heads up to those who might pick it up, read the first page or two and put it down because of that very overdone trope in these kind of books. This book is more than what it seems to begin with I promise. It’s fast-paced, well interconnected, full of tension and it keeps you guessing at every turn.

So we start with these stereotypical characters and over the course of the story we inevitably get to know them better, they each have hopes and dreams, even if some of their aspirations aren’t obvious even to them, o begin with. The character progression is interesting in this because we are naturally treated to more information about each of them as the story progresses and this is done very well, facts and histories are organically placed in the story and the progression to a degree is very much just seeing what was there in the first place but hidden, sometimes on purpose and sometimes not even known to the character. I found the whole process fascinating and the mortality and choices characters are faced with in this book feels very close to home in that they are easily decisions that feel visceral and real. The story itself is obviously interesting and I’ll get to that next but for me, it’s absolutely the characters, their choices and actions that make the God Game.

The plot for The God Game is not a new one but it is a good one. The idea of an A.I with a warped sense of perceived morality is something we’ve seen before in tv shows, films, books and video games and is an interesting concept because of the different takes on it and as with a fair amount of science fiction thrillers, the ease with which it can be imagined. It makes sense and true A.I’s feels like a step that the human race will eventually make or at least be able to and that brings so much more into the discussion although there’s not much of that in this book as our main characters are more worried about the consequences a bit closer to home than whether it should have been created or not although we get a little bit of background on “G.O.D” that is both interesting and vague enough to perhaps be a kind of urban myth itself. 

I could honestly go on about this book for ages, it was really thought-provoking in a lot of ways that I’m still thinking about almost a week after finishing it and that I think will stay with me for some time to come.

 

tbr thursday

January 2020 TBR

tbr Thursday

So here we are, day two of a new year and my first TBR post of 2020. Things got hectic towards the end of the year and I wish I hadn’t been so ill so I could have done a proper post about my year in reading but alas I’m still only just getting over whatever horrible flu bug afflicted me so it was not meant to be! I will say though that I completed my 2019 reading challenge of 60 books with only about ten minutes to spare after frantically reading some trade paperbacks (comics) during New Years Eve. Those 60 books are the equivalent of 17,757 pages according to Goodreads, with the shortest book being Dewdrop by Katie O’Neil at 40 pages (due out later this year) and the longest being Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare at 902 pages (it felt so much longer!)

Now before I get on with my TBR for this month I wanted to cover a few changes to my blog this year! Instead of taking part in WWW Wednesday every fortnight I’m instead going to do a monthly Wrap Up Wednesday post instead, I’m hoping this will be less repetitive and will include films and things etc as well as books with any luck. Another monthly feature (yet to be named, not sure how angry Disney would be about me using Force Fridays) will be adjacent to my reading of at least ONE Star Wars book a month this year and discussing that (the lovely El/Ink and Plasma from El’s Reviews is joining me so make sure you check out her awesome blog too!). I’ll be retiring the weekly Must be Monday posts for the foreseeable future too as I’m trying something different with my writing this year and time writing that post is time I could be spent working on my writing. There may be some other changes along the way, I’m toying with the idea of a monthly comics feature and something video game-related too, maybe even something to do with Dungeons and Dragons related, who knows? What would you like to see?

ANYWAY, without any further ado, I present my first planned TBR of the year!

The God Game by Danny Tobey
This is my current read, I’m only a short way through it after spending most of yesterday rearranging my bookshelves (and I’m still not done!) but I’m enjoying what I’ve read so far. The God Game is about a strange video game called The G.O.D Game, made by Underground hackers and controlled by a mysterious A.I that believes they are GOD. A group of teenagers begin playing the game and when they complete tasks they are rewarded with things from expensive tech, revenge and cash but things turn sinister when they start to receive threatening messages and the tasks they must complete become cruel and carry heavy punishments. I’ve enjoyed Ready Player One and more recently, CTRL S and I feel this might be a heavier darker version of these two books combined and I’m very excited for it! The God Game is coming very soon (January 9th, I believe) so you still have time to preorder if this sounds like your kind of book!

The Stars we Steal by Alexa Donne
“Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?”

Described by Alexa herself as a kind of Jane Austen meets the bachelor (just in space) as the book is very much a retelling of Austen’s last completed novel Persuasion I found myself utterly intrigued! I think I realised last year that I love Sci-Fi but I think I like books that can also be classed as Space Operas just as much if not more than generic Sci-Fi which I think is why I read a lot of YA Sci-Fi as they fit into that category more often. Here’s to hoping I enjoy this new release! Due out February 4th!

Star Wars Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray
“An unexpected offer threatens the bond between Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi as the two Jedi navigate a dangerous new planet and an uncertain future.”

I’ve had my eye on this book for a good while now and I’m glad to have finally got my hands on it. I rewatched a lot of Star Wars last month and fell head over heels back in love with Obi-Wan Kenobi (I was OBSESSED when I was younger) and so this month a large chunk of the Star Wars content I’m intending to consume is set around the time of the prequel trilogy including my comic read for this month and if I get time, season two of The Clone Wars TV show. So it stands to reason that this would be my Star Wars book for this month!

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski
So like everyone I was swept up in the Witcher craze last month and honestly, I’m okay with that. I loved the show (one more episode left to go!) I brought the games years ago but never got around to playing them and I had one of the standalone books that I also never got around to so hoping I can ride the hype and enjoyment from the show into the books and possibly the games with any luck. I decided to start with The Last Wish (dubbed as The Witcher 0.5) instead of The Sword of Destiny as apparently it’s a book of short stories and I have really been enjoying those a lot lately.

Star Wars Age of the Republic: Heroes by Jody Houser and Cory Smith
As mentioned before I’m revisiting the prequels this month. This is a bind-up of comics focusing on short stories primarily about Anakin, Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Padme that I’m intrigued to read and will go well alongside my novel choice this month and honestly although the prequel films were a bit of a hot mess (that CGI *shudders*) I really liked these characters and can’t wait to learn a bit more about them.

I worry that this might be a little over-ambitious (as usual) this month but only time will tell I guess! I’m hoping to get caught up with blogging and blog hopping over the next month or so and not ending up frantically writing blog posts the day they’re due to go live (I am doing this right now, oops).

Happy New Year to you all! Let me know what you’re planning to read this month!

spoiler free, tbr thursday

December TBR 2019

tbr Thursday

It only occurred to me this morning as I write this that I haven’t actually decided on a TBR for this month. I’ve just kind of been picking each book as I finish the one before. Looking at last months TBR I got through about half it but read two other books that weren’t on the list at all so I think four was an accurate estimate for a quiet reading month. I’m going to try and stick with four again this month as obviously it’s Christmas but I have a few things going on this month (mostly Dungeons and Dragons related, I’m not gonna lie) that will mean I might not be able to read as much as I would like (always the case tbh). I’m just going to wing this TBR so let’s see…

Starsight by Brendon Sanderson
I adored Skyward last year and its sequel has been one of my long-awaited releases for the end of this year. This will quite likely be my next read and I’m so grateful to have received a gifted copy from Gollancz on its release. I’m so very ready to follow Spensa and M-bot (not forgetting doomslug) into the stars!

The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
I had been hearing about this for a while, I own Slayer by the same author which my husband immensely enjoyed reading but I haven’t got around to yet and as someone who loves Arthurian lore I was tempted more and more every time I heard something about this new release. It was when author Kiersten posted “SO MUCH LONGING IT COULD BE A CW SHOW MAIN COUPLE BROKEN UP AT THE END OF SEASON ONE” on Twitter that I immediately brought it. I love me some longing and angst and this description just gave me Kara and Mon-El from Supergirl vibes after stuff goes down there and I need more of that drug and I’m hoping The Guinevere Deception will deliver.

The God Game by Danny Tobey
I am SO hyped for this January release! I was lucky enough to have been picked to receive one of the few ARC copies of this from Gollancz. We have a virtual world ran by underground hackers, an omnipotent A.I that refers to itself as GOD and starts demanding its users complete more and more worrying and cruel missions with threats against them if they do not complete them. This book sounds so very up my street and with CTRL+S still very fresh in my mind I’m excited to get around to this book.

Somebody Give This Heart A Pen by Sophia Thakur
The Goodreads synopsis describes this much better than I ever could:
“From acclaimed performance poet, Sophia Thakur comes a powerful new collection of poems exploring issues of identity, difference, perseverance, relationships, fear, loss and joy. The collection is arranged as life is: from youth to school, to home life, falling in love and falling straight back out again. The poems draw on the author’s experience as a young mixed-race young woman trying to make sense of a lonely and complicated world. With a strong narrative voice and emotional empathy, this is poetry that will resonate with all young people, whatever their background, and whatever their dreams.”
I haven’t read a lot of poetry recently and it’s just something I tend to dip my toe into now and again but something about this book just called to me and I’m looking forward to reading this one too!

The Sky Weaver by Kristen Ciccarelli
I really loved The Last Namsara, which I finally got around to reading last year just before the release of The Caged Queen. I enjoyed both of them but The Last Namsara especially. I’m really looking forward to this third book in the Iskari series! I only have my kindle version of this at the moment which I preordered but I will probably need to get my hands on a physical copy to match my others asap.

I think five books is probably ambitious enough for me this month! Especially as Starsight is quite a big chunky book. Have you read any of the books on my TBR? What are you hoping to read this month? Do we have any the same?