Friday, August 19, 2016

The Eye of Minds

Hey there!

Before we get to the review, I just wanted to apologize for not writing in such a long time.  First, I had company.  Then, I got sick.  It did not make reading or reviewing very easy!  But, I'm back now, and I am still striving for two reviews a week (minimally).

The Eye of Minds tells the story of Michael, Sarah, and Bryson as they hack their way through a virtual reality system in order to catch an evil hacker, Kaine.  These teenagers are forced to think creatively as they put their hacking and coding skills to the test.

This book will appeal to fans of Sword Art Online.

James Dashner's The Eye of Minds is a very complicated book that left me with a variety of emotions.
 I'm not really sure how I'm supposed to feel right now, nor am I certain of how I do feel.  There were some really amazing things, some things that needed work, and one really bad thing.  I guess we'll work in reverse today.

The Ugly
Despite an amazingly complex plot, Dashner fails to include enough character interaction in order to keep the ball rolling.  As a result, the story fails to ebb and flow.  In other words, this book is filled with quite a bit of action with slow parts in-between.  I fail to understand why Dashner chose not to fill these empty spaces.  He could have used them to further develop Michael's character by leaving hints that allow the audience to make educated guesses about the ending.  Instead, this lack of hints makes the ending less believable.

The Bad
Dashner fills the VirtNet with a variety of novel-specific vocabulary. Many of these words, such as "Tangent" help to send the story on its way.  Unfortunately, Dashner does a poor job of helping his audience rehearse these terms.  This left me going back through the pages to try to remember what some of these words meant.  Had the words been better rehearsed, they would have added a great deal of energy and suspense to the tale.  However, having to look back for them took away a lot of the meaning and made the overall reading experience more confusing than it needed to be.

Additionally, I believe that Dashner could have added more fluidity to The Path.  Perhaps the different trials that the children face could have been from other games in the VirtNet? Maybe they could have held special meaning for each individual or played to master gamer's strengths that the kids would have recognized.  I believe that the trials were enough of a challenge for the three characters, but would have liked to see a bit more importance placed upon each of the new "arenas."

The Good
Dashner has an amazing and creative mind.  This story was definitely intriguing from the first word!  I didn't simply want to know what was going to happen.  I NEEDED to know.  I needed to know so badly that I would hide myself in a different room than my boyfriend so that my reading could not possibly be interrupted.  Kudos to Dashner for knowing how to suck his audience in.

Although the vocabulary made it frustrating to try to remember what each new word meant, I believe that Dashner made it work.  After all, I could have chosen to simply continue reading without comprehension (like many teenagers do), but I wanted to know what it meant.  I needed to know what was happening at each moment!  This novel would not have been complete without these vocabulary words.

Finally, Dashner has a gift for playing with his audience's feelings.  Right when we start to feel safe again, he pulls the ground out from underneath us.  He does an especially good job of this at the end as we find out the truth behind Michael and his mission.

For my Classroom
I would definitely like to add a copy of this book to my classroom library!  I believe that both male and female students would enjoy it.  I have many students who are also SAO fans who would love to see something similar to a favorite show.  Maybe this could be the gate to lifelong reading that they need to have opened for them?  I can also think of a variety of creative writing prompts to go along with this novel.  Therefore, my students would be able to enjoy a novel, use their creative thinking skills, and even do some creative writing.  As a literature teacher, it doesn't get much better than that!

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