You may not know of many Certified Public Accountants who’ve become best-selling authors, but James Dashner traded in his days of crunching numbers to chase his dream of writing full-time, and he doesn’t seem to be looking back. Dashner’s debut Maze Runner series has sold more than 2.4 million copies, and with a film adaptation slated for 2014, the “Dashner Army” of superfans is sure to keep growing.

Now Dashner is bringing YA readers a new world to explore in The Eye of Minds, the first novel in his cyber-punk influenced Mortality Doctrine series. A self-proclaimed geek, Dashner offers a convincing look at the future of video games, where the lines between what’s virtual and what’s real are blurred, and the results can be terrifying.

The Eye of Minds follows Michael, a gamer who spends most of his time on the VirtNet—a cutting-edge virtual reality gaming experience where anything is possible, and everything feels real. During his waking hours, Michael is usually playing (or planning his next game). And in a state known as "the Sleep," his mind is free to roam the VirtNet while his body stays inert. The game is threatened when a cyber terrorist known as Kaine starts destroying the virtual world and torturing players online—leaving their physical bodies brain-dead, or worse. Virtual Network Security agents need help tracking down this rogue player, and Michael and his two best friends have just the right hacking skills for the job.

A gripping page-turner, Dashner’s latest is sure to please existing fans and newcomers alike. We caught up with the author to get his tips on which elements of the VirtNet are most likely to keep readers up all night.

TOP 5 SCARIEST THINGS ABOUT THE VIRTNET

By James Dashner

5. Your Aura (avatar, likeness, etc.) inside the Sleep is probably much better looking than your real self. You may get used to it, making the mirror in your real bathroom a very unhappy place.

4. There's always the chance that you'll meet someone inside the VirtNet, fall in love, arrange a meeting in the real world, then realize it's your Uncle Frank incognito.

3. Roller coasters have been known to induce heart attacks, motion sickness, and is apparently unsafe for those bearing an unborn child. The VirtNet is a roller coaster times a billion.

2. If the Sleep is indistinguishable from the real world, how can you ever again truly know what is real and what is not? It's like the dream within a dream within a dream from the movie Inception.

1. No one at the office will get any work done. Ever again.

 

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