THE GOD GAME by Danny Tobey


From the publisher:

“Smart, propulsive and gripping, THE GOD GAME is an ambitious thriller and a terrifying examination of what could–and probably already is–happening in the world of artificial intelligence.”―Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away

A technological thriller with an all-too-believable premise, award-winning author Danny Tobey’s The God Game follows five teenagers obsessed with an online video game that connects them to their worst impulses and most dangerous desires.

They call themselves the Vindicators. Targeted by bullies and pressured by parents, these geeks and gamers rule the computer lab at Turner High School. Wealthy bad boy Peter makes and breaks rules. Vanhi is a punk bassist at odds with her heritage. Kenny’s creativity is stifled by a religious home life. Insecure and temperamental, Alex is an outcast among the outcasts. And Charlie, the leader they all depend on, is reeling from the death of his mother, consumed with reckless fury.

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. Obey the almighty A.I. and be rewarded. Defiance is punished. 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.

High school tormentors get their comeuppance. Parents and teachers are exposed a hypocrites. And the Vindicators’ behavior becomes more selfish and self-destructive as they compete against one another for prizes each believes will rescue them from their adolescent existence. But everything they do is being recorded. Hooded and masked thugs are stalking and attacking them. “God” threatens to expose their secrets if they attempt to quit the game. And losing the game means losing their lives.

You don’t play the Game. The Game plays you….

The God Game is an imaginative novel about a video game being ordered by high school students from a group of underground hackers. The group consists of what is thought of at their school as “nerds,” and are all interested in normal relationships with the so-called “normals.” The motto of the game is “Win and all your dreams come true – lose and you die.” And therein is the basis for an interesting novel by Daniel Tobey.
Tobey is a recognized authority on AI (artificial intelligence) and the idea that this is what is being dealt with is in the background of his book.  However, as soon as the students begin playing the game all sorts of what is normally impossible things begin appearing in a virtual world playing out via their phones and computers. The game begins texting them orders like worship me, obey me and complete a mission. They find that if they obey and successfully fulfill an order they will receive rewards in real life; if not, there is a punishment.
The God Game is an updated and fascinating book based on the science fiction literature about intelligent machines taking over from their creators and subjugating them as servants rather than the masters as originally conceived when the robots were built. The book is a draw for the reader, but not an all-nighter as much of the technical descriptions can be a bit over the heads of non-computer literate people. There is no problem, however, with understanding the events taking place and finishing the novel with an interest in reading more by Tobey.

1/2020 Paul Lane

THE GOD GAME by Danny Tobey. St. Martin’s Press (January 7, 2020). ISBN 978-1250306142. 464p.



2 Responses to THE GOD GAME by Danny Tobey

  1. Patricia Gallant says:

    Have you ever read The God Game written by Andrew M. Greeley. It was written several years, maybe even a couple of decades, ago – before computers have the ability they have today. You should check it out and make a comparison. I hopefully will be able to get my hands on THIS The God Game.

%d bloggers like this: