Editorial note: I received a copy of The God Game in exchange for a review.
The God Game by Danny Tobey is a high-energy thriller set in the world of artificial intelligence.
I received the opportunity to read The God Game and I thought it would be good to read outside my comfort zone. The story follows five teenagers obsessed with an online video game that promises the world but they have to make plenty of sacrifices that pushes each of them to the limit.
They each receive an invitation to play The God Game. Created by dark-web coders and maintained by underground hackers, the video game is controlled by a mysterious artificial intelligence that believes it is God (yeah, just roll with it). Through their phone screens and high-tech glasses, Charlie and his friends see and interact with a fantasy world superimposed over reality. The quests they undertake on behalf of “God” seem harmless at first, but soon the tasks have them questioning and sacrificing their own morality.
The book really takes off quick. The actually God Game itself is really chilling and downright freaky at times. It was also interesting combining religion with technology—and morality of our current times. There’s plenty of coding references that were very much over my head. However, I do appreciate the author not shying away from tech talk.
Even though it deals with many adult topics, I still consider it more of a YA novel. The five main teenagers are fleshed out well and each are given their own kind of urgency. There’s so much pressure on teenagers these days and while technology has opened up the doors, there’s also plenty of drawbacks. So it’s no surprise that when this game offers these teenagers the world, they end up enchanted. Until real-life consequences quickly come into play.
There are very traditional stereotypes though. The coders are dorky kids and the football players are abusive bullies. Not to say that some stereotypes can’t be true but I was a little bored with that dynamic, which we’ve seen time and time again in both novels and movies.
I also felt that the story was a bit too long and it started to lose me with about 150 pages left. I did read this in one sitting so maybe it’s a better one to read over time.
All that said, I think this is an interesting read for those engaged with A.I., and of course, lovers of YA.
Final review thoughts: the premise is intriguing and is pretty terrifying in moments but I did have my issues with it.
Check out my book club questions here.