Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Book Review: The God Game by Danny Tobey

Title: The God Game
Author: Danny Tobey
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: January 7th 2020
Print Number of Pages: 464
Genres: Science Fiction, Technothriller
You are invited!
Come inside and play with G.O.D.
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 G.O.D. 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.

While browsing Facebook one day, I came across a book entitled The God Game by Danny Tobey. I was intrigued, so I decided to read more about it. After reading the synopsis, this book reeled me in. I decided to give it a read, and I am very glad I did. The God Game has become one of my favorite reads so far.

With the way the digital age is going, the plot of The God Game sounded like it could already be happening in real life. A bunch of teens decide to play a random game with what they suspect is just some kind of artificial intelligence. However, when God (the AI in The God Game) starts asking them to do some highly illegal and dangerous activities as well as activities that make the teens question their morality, they start to think that maybe they are in over their heads. Will the teens be able to quit the game or will death be the only way out? Don't get me wrong. The plot has been done before, but Danny Tobey put his own original spin on the idea and made it where it comes across as a fresh idea. As I mentioned earlier, The God Game comes across as being very realistic. While I feel that there are no major plot twists and that the book is fairly predictable in some places, The God Game is still a highly entertaining read. Tobey gives his readers enough information at the end of the book to leave them satisfied, but he still leaves it somewhat open ended for a possible sequel.

The God Game flowed very smoothly, and I felt like the pacing was perfect. Not once did I feel like the book became too dull or that it was going to fast. The transitions between chapters was very spot on which made The God Game an easy read for me. It was so easy to lose myself in this novel as I became completely immersed in the world Tobey had created.

A couple of things that kind of bothered me, and they seem to be more personal preference than a fault with the story, is the mentions of politics and how anti-God/Christianity The God Game seemed to be. I'm not a political person by any means. In fact, I don't lean one way or the other when it comes to politics. However, I felt like politics were mentioned way too much in this book. It's very obvious that the author is very anti-Trump. If I wanted to read a book about politics, I'd read a political thriller or something similar. I didn't like how this book seems to poke fun at those that believe in God. It comes across as if the author is trying to challenge the beliefs of those who believe in God. I get that The God Game has God in its title and is about an AI that believes it's God, but I felt that the way the author speaks about God came off as a bit crass. However, those were minor issues for me, and I still enjoyed reading The God Game very much.

I felt that all of the main and supporting characters in The God Game were written superbly. The God Game had such a diverse group of characters throughout which was refreshing to see. I enjoyed reading about Charlie and his thoughts. He seemed conflicted the most with everything that was happening. It was great to read about how much he cared about his friends as well as other people. Charlie came across as a stand up guy. Vanhi was my favorite character. She was such a badass that I couldn't help but to love her! I felt like she was the second most conflicted character. I just felt sorry for what Alex was going through. My heart ached for him. Kenny was a great character too, and it was interesting what the game would ask him to do. I never quite knew what to make of Peter. He was written well, and he came across as very charismatic which made me suspicious of him throughout the whole novel. I did admire how much he would throw himself into something though.

Trigger warnings for The God Game include violence, profanity, drug use, politics, challenging the existence of God, racism, sexual situations (although not graphic), and murder.

Overall, The God Game is a highly thrilling read. With such an interesting cast of characters as well as a highly thought provoking plot, I wouldn't be surprised if The God Game became one of the most sought after books of 2020. It would also make a great film. I would definitely recommend The God Game by Danny Tobey to those aged 16+ who love thrilling plots that really make you think. Give The God Game a read. It will sink its teeth in you from the very first page!
(A special thank you to St. Martin's Press for providing me with a paperback ARC of The God Game by Danny Tobey in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.)

Danny Tobey is a fifth-generation Texan. He went to Harvard College, Yale Law School, and the University of Texas Southwestern medical school. Harvard gave Danny the Edward Eager prize "for the best creative writing." He wrote and edited the Harvard Lampoon and was anthologized in The Best of the Harvard Lampoon: 140 Years of American Humor. Danny's first novel was the science fiction-fantasy thriller The Faculty Club. Danny is a noted expert on Artificial Intelligence. In 2019, the Library of Congress gave Danny the Burton Award for his work on AI and the law.


  1. Wow, that sounds like a crazy book. I really like the sounds of this one though.

  2. Challenging the existence of God, a trigger? Dude, if you have faith, you shouldn't fear those who don't! It's only logical that the existence of a male figure watching you in order to decide where you belong in the end, heaven or hell, should be challenged from time to time!

    1. I don't believe in God, personally, but others may be triggered by it.