The God Game

A Novel
Narrated by: Andrew Eiden
Length: 13 hrs and 31 mins
4 out of 5 stars (52 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"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, number one New York Times best-selling author of Run Away)

You are invited!
Come inside and play with GOD.
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 God 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.

Praise for The God Game:

"Tension and turmoil add up to high stakes suspense and a plot that will make you wonder if all this stuff is real. Danny Tobey absolutely kicks butt and takes names in this gem of a thriller." (Steve Berry, New York Times best-selling author of the Cotton Malone series)

"The God Game is a dark, edgy thriller, populated by a vastly appealing cast of teenage underdogs. Danny Tobey has written an unusually smart and provocative novel, a book full of ideas and heart that feels both fantastical and all-too-real at the same time." (Tom Perrotta, New York Times best-selling author of The Leftovers and Little Children)

©2020 Danny Tobey (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"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, number one New York Times best-selling author of Run Away)

"The God Game is a fantastic read. I haven't felt this way about a book since Ready Player One. As addicting as any video game I've ever played, I got sucked in from the first page and couldn't put it down. Can't recommend this one enough." (Ben Mezrich, New York Times best-selling author of Bitcoin Billionaires and Bringing Down the House)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Anyone is a murderer under the right circumstances

While this book is a thought provoking scenario on what is means to be God I am torn as to it's application. My first thought on comparison would be Ready Player One (obvious) meets Jumanji with a darker, almost Saw-like aspect of you or them trade aspect.

There is so much to love.
First, the audio. Andrew Eiden offers a spectacular performance. His performance is perfect in a way that holds attention while revealing the author's darkly humorous intentions.

The premise of the book is well founded and established. An invite-only "game" that thinks it is God. Not just a christian God but a culmination of all religions trying to answer the ultimate question of morality. This is accomplished by "crowd sourcing" moral decisions to other players. It is odd that all the other players seem to be vindictive and almost evil as opposed to curious, in-over-their-heads, unsuspecting, puppets. The old-school game style of the God Game gives it a playfully sinister edge that pushes the boundary of maniacal. The idea of the God Game is enough the keep a grip on the reader and make this an exciting listen. I love the addition of the augmented reality. It adds an element of plausibility but unfortunately puts a hard date on the book.

The God Game offers players everything they want - for a price, often at the expense of others. This is taken to the extreme as the game seems to play with the individuals more than actually passing judgement as one might expect from an entity that considers itself God. Not everything the game doles out is a trade however as sometimes a seemingly simple, y/n question from the game can have unintended consequences. A few unnecessary additions by the author muddy the overall impact of the story. One is that individual players, some more than others, seem able to influence the Game by making bets, or seeking to teach other players made up lessons about who they are or should be. This is done under the idea that some people understand the game better than others. Another is that for an invite-only game it sure does call in a great many non-players through bribes and threats to do it's dirty work. Through this the God Game transitions from computer program with with all the answers of morality and justice to an intentionally malignant villain seeking manipulation over judgement. These competing narratives or directions by the author can cause the reader to feel pulled in too many directions. The plot was sometimes hurried with certain story lines feeling incomplete because of the confusion. This will prevent a good book from being great.

I'll circle around to say this book is an emotional roller coaster that is often thought provoking. The ending adds a great little twist that can reel you back in a bit. It had the potential to blow away Ready Player One and rest with the likes of Ender's Game.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

If social media could be used like a magnifying glass on an ant hill.

Characters who only know how to make bad choices play a game that only gives them bad options. The author assumes that the next generation is incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions. That their intentions mean more than what they actually do. But it’s alright they have a game to blame everything on. Every character in here is deplorable.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Moves too slow for my taste

I kept hoping that the story would get more interesting at some point. It didn’t.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Wow

This was an amazing ride! Every time I thought I figured it out or thought I found a plot flaw, I was wrong.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Chilling

This is almost believable. Advances in AI, Data storage, and device connectivity makes it chillingly believable.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Long winded

I initially enjoyed the story but once it got about 3 quarters into it, I got lost. Different components introduced on so many different levels I lost the players. story did not need 100 chapters to be told.

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Wow, What a book!

Great book from start to finish, love the ending. What a great concept for a book, Has a mix of Ready Player One, and a Black Mirror episode! Fantastic!!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Story is great, reader is just okay.

I enjoyed the story quite a bit. I found the reader to be mediocre. It wasn’t so much bad, more that the attempt at juvenile vocal tonalities often misses the mark and ends up sounding somewhat like mockery rather than characterization. Not all of the reading is like that, but enough to be kind of annoying to me.