James Dashner, the author of the popular Maze Runner series, has a knack for writing books with nonstop action.
His main characters in "The Eye of Minds," the first book in his new Mortality Doctrine series, are Michael, Bryson and Sarah and they rarely even slow down, much less stop — unless they die, which they do because they're practically always in a virtual world called VirtNet that's basically like a video game.
The race to discover what's going on with a sly, brilliant villain named Kaine, who has infiltrated VirtNet and impacts the real world, is endless and feels somewhat like the adventures of "Bomberman" as the trio of gamers pass through one dicey scenario after another, even a land of volcanoes and lava where the lava spits at them.
It's kind of exhausting, but there's a compulsion to see where it all leads.
What's behind this door? Where does this tunnel lead? How are they going to escape these creatures?
There are a number of questions Michael and his gamer buddies are trying to answer as they journey through long hallways, sand, heat and never-ending stairways.
Michael doesn't know what happened to his parents or his nanny. He doesn't know why he keeps getting hit with unbearable headaches. He doesn't know how he can keep going, but he can't stop or go back.
He isn't sure what he's supposed to find or how he's supposed to stop Kaine from whatever dastardly scheme he's planning to unleash upon the world.
He's apparently been sent in by some good guys, but they never help much.
He just keeps going and going — with only one meal and one cup of water along the arduous, physically taxing journey.
Dashner has no shortage of ideas when it comes to providing dangers and unique challenges, but sometimes it feels as if he's thrown in everything but the kitchen sink.
The premise is interesting although not entirely new, as the heroes are something like avatars in the game they're trying to win.
It permits Dashner to kill them off occasionally because they can die and return, but it also makes the story somewhat more brutal.
Nothing is for certain. Nothing and nowhere are safe.Comment on this story
There is relentless violence, blood, injury and mayhem. The language is clean and the action is virtual, if you will.
However, it's constant tension for a debatable end reward.
If you go ...
What: "The Eye of Minds" book launch with James Dashner
When: Tuesday, Oct. 8, 7 p.m.
Where: Rowland Hall, 843 Lincoln St., Salt Lake City
Notes: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of "The Eye of Minds" from the King's English.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.