The God Game by Danny Tobey

“Trust the lord!”

A crypto-thriller, a rogue AI, a morality test? What is The God Game? A simple text-based chatbot/game is found by one of a group of high school friends in Austin, Tx. The crew call themselves the Vindicators, a group of outcasts who hang out in the computer room at lunch. They do their share of hacking, but nothing too serious. Until they start playing with God, a game that seeps into all electronics, cameras, phones… every aspect of these young peoples’ lives. God is always watching, always one step ahead.

Promises of power and a chance for success after past mistakes. But at what cost. One player wants to quit the game, but how far will the rest go?

The first half introduces the crew and the many players in the wings… the Harvard applicant with a secret, the dejected screw-up, the disgraced but beloved teacher, the grieving father and son. Are they all puppets with God at the strings?  Or will they use the game to get what they want from life?

God asks for service, things in exchange for money in the game. At first things that seem like harmless pranks, but things become more serious and as God’s plan starts connecting all participants, one pull of the string will touch off a series of events that none can oppose.

What sets this one apart from the many other rogue AI stories that are coming out in droves these days?  I think Tobey’s writing get you from the beginning. A quick pace, great characterization, and a host of allusions that create great depth. The obvious connections are biblical allusions, but there are so many others that bring up nostalgia (good and bad) of teen life. 

The God Game is a very good techno-thriller that has several dark turns, reads with a blistering speed, and asks the reader some intense questions.

4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Edelweiss, St. Martin’s Press, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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