Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/YA Science Fiction
“When mankind can create a world that is so like our own…then how can we possible ever know what’s real and what’s not real again?”
The Rule of Thoughts is the second book in James Dashner’s Mortality Doctrine trilogy (my review for The Eye of Minds can be found here, and The Game of Lives here). This book was not as interesting as the first novel, but it was still good. Unlike the last novel, the majority of this novel is in the Wake, or the real world, not the virtual one.
In this book, Michael, a data tangent from the VirtNet, has had his data essence transferred to the body of Jackson Porter, and innocent in the chaos of VirtNet terrorism. While this transfer happened at the end of the previous novel, it is the key highlight that drives this novel. Michael is in a human body for the first time ever, proving that Kaine’s Mortality Doctrine did exactly what it was meant to do: it was able to successfully transfer sentient data from the VirtNet to the real world.
Michael has never met Sarah and Bryson in real life, and now that he is capable, and unable to get onto the VirtNet for fear of the VNS and Kaine, Michael seeks out first Sarah, then together Bryson. Sarah’s parents get mixed up in the cyber terrorism, and Kaine has whisked Sarah’s parents away to an unknown fate. Together they find Bryson and head for the VNS headquarters to get Agent Weber to help them stop Kaine. Along the way, Michael has to deal with Gabriella, the girlfriend of Jackson Porter, the body Michael’s sentient tangent form now lives in. They also learn of hos dire the situation really is.
Michael, in Jackson Porter’s body, is wanted for cyber terrorism, so getting around unnoticed isn’t that easy for him and his associate friends. They also learn that other tangents have been transferred into human bodies and see Michael as a godly figure for being the first successful tangent to make the leap to reality through the Mortality Doctrine. Because of these tangents invading human bodies, politicians and other important people begin to act very strange. Through all of this, Michael, Sarah, and Bryson have delved back into Lifeblood Deep to stake out Kaine’s main code source, with the aide of heavy cloaking software and code.
Once the location is found by the trio, Agent Weber has a plan to use the Lance to destroy Kaine once and for all. Michael does as he is told, but there is a terrible mix up. They think they were put in the virtual world, when they were in the real world the whole time, and the plan is a fluke.
SPOILERS: Michael goes to prison for destroying the VSN in real life, and not Kaine in the virtual world, a trap set by someone. While in jail, someone (my theory is it is his tangent father in human form) visits him and cautions him about how real the virtual world is, and no matter what, one can never truly know what is real and what is virtual, when the worlds are all so life-like.
While this novel wasn’t as intriguing as the first, the storyline is driven by the Mortality Doctrine and what it is capable of. This alone makes the book WORTH reading, especially if you have already committed to the first one. I am interested in seeing how this virtual reality comes to a conclusion in The Game of Lives.