A massive thank you to Gollancz for sending me a copy of The God Game by Danny Tobey and for letting me be a part of the blog tour.
The blurb for this book (taken from Goodreads) is:
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, smoldering 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.
We follow a group of five friends that come across this game; Charlie, Vahni, Peter, Kenny and Alex. Charlie and Vahni are both star students who want to go to Havard together, Charlie loses the motivation for this goal when his mum dies and he essentially gives up on his future, whereas Vahni is still willing to do anything to keep her dream alive. Peter is the mysterious new kid who moved from another school, his mum left them when he was younger and his dad is always away on business. Kenny uses logic and isn’t as into coding as the others in the group. Alex is an outsider, he has a bad home life as well as school life and it’s heatbreaking seeing his struggle.
I found it really interesting how religion was integrated into this. The game gives each player choices on how to continue, and makes them think about how far they would really go to get what they want. If they choose the direction the game (God) wants then they’re rewarded with Goldz in the game, and what they want becomes real, but if they don’t choose the direction God wants then they get Blaxx, the higher the Blaxx, the worse the real life outcome will be. I found it intriguing how things would happen both in the game and outside of it. The technology aspect makes you really think about how much phones and computers are a part of our lives, as great as they are, it’s scary to think that people can be watching you at any time, all through your phone/computer.
This was a really dark and chilling read which had me on the edge of my seat, it was a perfect book to start off the year with and it has definitely made me want to read more from Danny Tobey.
Make sure you check out all the other stops on this blog tour (full dates from Monday 6th January to Sunday 12th January.