This book is trying to be Ready Player One meets WarGames, as run by Hal 9000s with the gory morality play mentality of The Purge. The God Game is exactly what it sounds like, an invitation-only e-game that is sent to the unwary. If they play and win, all their dreams come true. But if they die in the game, they die in real life-- and there's only one way to stop playing.
Charlie and his friends are initially super into the God Game. They can play on their monitors or on their phones, and the interplay between reality and the game quickly fascinates them, even if the little "errands" the game sends them on do occasionally cause people to get hurt. It all seems pretty harmless, and as outcasts they feel a little entitled to their pound of virtual flesh.
But when the errands become higher stakes and the pain they cause in the game takes a sharp and drastic incline for the worse, Charlie and co. have to figure out how much of their souls they're willing to sacrifice if it means playing to win, or if there's even a way out of conforming to the hostile intelligence's will at all.
I thought THE GOD GAME was good but cheesy. I think it was a mistake trying to write it as more "realistic" and less speculative science-fiction/fantasy. It gave the book a hokey, 1980s fantasy fulfillment vibe that I don't think will age well as technology continues to improve. The social commentary was interesting but, again, heavy-handed, with a grim, and rather disturbing message that left me in a bit of a funk. I'm not sure what this book was trying to be; I think the author had so many ambitions for his project that he couldn't focus on a single one, and didn't succeed at any of them. THE GOD GAME passed the time and entertained me while I had the flu, but I don't think I'd ever reread it. It was too dark and depressing, and I don't really think it made a whole lot of sense.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
3 out of 5 stars
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