The Mortality Doctrine Series by James Dashner: Mysterious Sci-Fi Virtual Reality

What It’s About

The Mortality Doctrine Series is a trilogy written by James Dashner from 2013 to 2015. It takes place in a distant future of hyper-advanced technology, virtual reality gaming full of fun and nightmares, cyber terrorism, and a world where the Internet has been rendered obsolete. The series follows an 18-year-old gamer named Michael who plays on the VirtNet: an advanced virtual internet world where everything from gaming to basic communication is used. Him and his two best friends, Sarah and Bryson, are a small team of gamers that play together. However, an evil gamer named Kaine spreads his influence and malware through the VirtNet. He deletes entire game sites and locks people within the VirtNet so they can never leave, forcing them to commit virtual and physical suicide. Michael and his friends are forced to comb through the darkest places of the VirtNet to help the VirtNet Security (VNS) find Kaine in order to save the VirtNet and other gamers from dying.


How It Is Written and Structured

The story around the Mortality Doctrine and how the world in this futuristic era is structured is very well thought out by James Dashner. Each book reveals new surprises about this futuristic world. The first book, The Eye of Minds, starts off with Michael and his friends trying to help catch Kaine, but it finishes with a huge bombshell as it reveals Kaine’s true identity and Michael’s true character and what he is, creating much need to read the second book, The Rule of Thoughts. This particular book is hazy in terms of the plot and needs to be read carefully to understand what is really going on. Michael and his friends try to connect in real life in order to find out what has happened and how they can help catch Kaine, but the circumstances around the plot are even more tense. Without reading the first book though, there is no way to know how much the stakes have risen against fighting Kaine. Finally, in the third and final book, The Game Of Lives, the answers to the questions of what is going on on both sides of the fight between Kaine and the VNS are revealed. The true enemy of humanity is uncovered, and it’s not just Kaine.


My Reaction

In my opinion, James Dashner has put a lot of thought into how the virtual world and the VirtNet have developed, but there is very little information about the background and timeline of when this takes place. There is no given year, and the only indication of its time period is when they refer to the Internet Age as an earlier period of time and a smart tablet as an antique. But, it creates very fine lines between what is good and what is evil, making the reader question some of the decisions made by characters in the books. Michael is the main character, and although his changes throughout the series are very subtle, they are extremely revealing to a reader about Michael’s personality once the series is finished. His friends, Bryson and Sarah, also develop as they help Michael through his journey as they delve into the depths of the VirtNet. As you see their friendship hold through the toughest of times, you can’t help but admire Michael, and his ability to get back up even when his closest friends are in danger or even close to death.