Charlie and his friends are not the popular kids in school. Smart in a nerdy way, they formed a computer coding club so they could have something together, something they could share, something that bonded them. Vanhi, who loves both coding and playing her bass; Kenny, who has worked so hard at school and playing the cello so his parents wouldn’t be disappointed in him the way they are with his brother, who left medical school to be a writer; Alex, whose parents hold him to the highest academic standards, going to extremes to encourage him to keep his grade up; Peter, whose mother died when he was young and now his father travels so much he is pretty much raising himself; and Charlie, whose mother died a little over a year ago and who has given up on just about everything—these are the club, the Vindicators. And everyone in the school knows it.
The problem? Very few people in the school care. Despite their intelligence, they rarely date. Despite their hard work, their parents still put more pressure on them to do more, do better. Despite their friendship, they still struggle. And then they find the game. Or rather, the game found them.
Offering them a chance to win the ultimate prize—all their dreams coming true, the G.O.D. game draws them in, giving them a chance to escape their daily miseries as well as a way to get rid of them altogether. They do what the game wants, they get Goldz, which they can use to get anything they want. But if they don’t do what the game wants, they get Blaxx.
At first the game is fun and seems harmless, but as they level up, the tasks are more challenging. They are faced with ethical, moral, and philosophical questions about their choices that they didn’t want to consider. Their choices in the game seem to have genuine consequences to those not in the game, and they start to wonder who is running the game. Is it some AI that thinks it’s God, or is it something more? Something malevolent? And if that’s the case, can they leave the game if it gets too intense? Do they have any control of their lives anymore at all?
Danny Tobey’s novel The God Game is a masterwork of popular culture, teenage angst, and the fear of what the collective unconscious of the internet could become. It is a force of words, of feelings, of imagination as readers are taken on a journey of religion and high school, of psychology and anxiety, of possibility and personal choice. This is the most intense book I’ve read in ages. I loved it, and I think everyone should read it. But be prepared. This story will take you on an emotional journey like no other!
Galleys for The God Game were provided by St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley, with many thanks
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