The God Game

The God Game

by Danny Tobey


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"Smart, propulsive and gripping, THE GOD GAME is an ambitious thriller and a terrifying examination of what could—and probably already is—happening in the world of artificial intelligence."—Harlan Coben, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250306142
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/07/2020
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 236,861
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Danny Tobey is a fifth-generation Texan. He went to Harvard College, Yale Law School, and UT 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, the sci-fi fantasy thriller The Faculty Club, came out from Simon & Schuster. 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.

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The God Game 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
diane92345 3 months ago
What could be better? You are a group of five nerds in high school. You are consistently bullied by the popular kids. Until one day you are invited to play The God Game. On the dark web, the teenage friends decide to “Come inside and play with G.O.D. Ding! Bring your friends! It’s fun! But remember the rules. Win and ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE. Lose, you die! :) It’s ur choice. Free will!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I mean what could go wrong? It’s just a game, right? I loved The God Game. It seemed like I was also in the game with the teens. The story was an engrossing page-turner that kept me up nights compulsively reading it. I also couldn’t imagine how it would end but the book’s conclusion was perfect. If you’re a gamer, this is the thriller for you. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars! Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
AlinaBee 18 days ago
Reminds me of another book I read in the past. A different spin on it while managing to keep up the thrills and suspense. Entertaining and holds up its end of the mystery of whom is behind the game. I felt the characters were a bit shallow, but interesting. The writing is sophisticated and the pacing is pretty steady.
JoeJoeF 20 days ago
Thanks NetGalley for an ARC to review. I found The God Game intriguing and entertaining. This is a different kind of read for me so it took me a while to get into. I ended up enjoying it. If you like science fiction then this ones for you.
Ratbruce 24 days ago
Excellent cyber thriller where high school misfits join an online game that spills over into the real world. Great characters, fast paced, and intriguing moral dilemmas. Highly recommended
Dee_Arr 26 days ago
Every so often a story falls into your lap that has all the elements you’re looking for, one that compels you to keep reading far into the night and causes you regret when you realize you will complete the book when you really want is for it to continue. “The God Game” by Danny Tobey is one of those stories. The story begins with an innocence, introducing five friends who discover a game that seems like it might be fun even though there are veiled warnings about what may happen. It doesn’t take long for the group to discover that evil lurks just below the surface as they confront situations that push against their willpower and strain their personal ethical boundaries. The story quickly becomes dark as every action causes a reaction. The author introduces numerous twists and turns, most of them unexpected. The pacing of the story is excellent, as once the game is introduced, the consequences introduce more challenges and it feels like nothing ever slows down as the book accelerates to the climax. I did mention that the story turns dark, and that includes the language. If you are bothered by vulgarities and f-bombs, as the characters become more entangled in the game the wording increases in coarseness. While an excess amount of vulgarities has bothered me in other books, I felt Mr. Tobey used them to ratchet up the tension and thus added to rather than detracted from the essence of the story. The author has mixed a sci-fi horror story with a full dose of fear of artificial intelligence and what it could do, given the opportunity. The POV changes and allows the reader to experience the characters’ personal debates as they each question the ethics and morality of the choices presented by the game. In this era of AI getting smarter all the time, it raises the specter of something like “The God Game” actually happening. Highly recommended. Five stars. My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an advance electronic copy of this title.
Anonymous 26 days ago
AI as god, manipulator of the players of the game, an interesting story in places and not so in others. I have a hard time trying to find a purpose to the tale and something I can like to recommend. I'm just going to leave it to others to decide, as I'm unimpressed.
PatriciaFairweatherRomero 28 days ago
When Charlie gets an invitation to the G.O.D. Game, his friend Peter accepts for him. And soon their little band of misfits and computer hackers are all playing.  At first, things seem all right. G.O.D. is saying all the right things. But from the beginning, Charlie is suspicious and not really wanting to play along. When the game begins commanding they do bad things, they all want out, except one. But remember the only way out is death. But does it have to be their own death? At first, I thought this was going to be like the television show, God Friended Me. It was not. It's not like Stranger Things, or any other show it's currently being compared to. There were some good undercurrents going on. The AI believed it was God. The chaos with the Trump controversy. Can one person make the entire world bend to his will? Are we only in it for ourselves? Under the story, there were good pieces you could pick out underscoring our lack of compassion and lack of any moral compass. If the AI got all of its knowledge from watching us, we are in for a sad state of affairs. I think this would be better as a YA book. It wasn't my favorite. NetGalley/ January 7th, 2020 by St. Martin's Press
PattySmith87 28 days ago
Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Danny Tobey for an ARC in exchange for an honest book review of The God Game. My thoughts and opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advance copy. What if God were in a computer. This is the premise a group of friends are faced with. Charlie and Peter discover an AI program that lures them in to play the G.O.D. game with the promise of making all their dreams come true. But it comes with a dire warning - if you die in the game, you die in real life. They introduce their friends to the game having never seen anything like it and this is a group that knows video games. They are self described nerds, kids who play video games, enjoy coding and honing their hacking skills. They are smart and driven with some on the fast track to Harvard. But they are also at the bottom of the social strata. They are the ones who jocks bully and girls don’t consider date material. On the surface these friends seem like they are a very tight group. The kind of friends who are loyal, who have your back no matter what. But as we get a closer look, each one of these kids has real problems that they are dealing with, things that threaten their future. Imagine if God could be in a computer. Guiding you, testing you. How would you respond? At first the game is easy, fun, with rewards that benefit them in real life. But this AI representation of God is not just the kind benevolent holy one. This is the kind that demands obedience, loyalty and will mete out severe punishments if you don’t comply. How far do you go to protect yourself and the ones you love? The AI program has access to every aspect of your life. Its scope is wide and it is always ten steps ahead. The only way out is to die and to die in the game is to die in real life. This is a captivating, action-packed, high tension, emotional book. It is a wild ride that starts early and doesn’t stop. There are many different levels to this story and it is these layers that give it depth and keep it interesting. First, you have the game. It reminded me a bit of the movie “Nerve” from back in 2016 with Emma Roberts where these teens played an online game with real world consequences. It would make a great movie. Especially when they get these glasses that alter the real world and allows the game to come to life. The stakes are high and the AI is everywhere. It also has overtones of “Skynet” syndrome from the Terminator movies. What if computers had a consciousness and that they are far superior to humans and take over the world. But I love this sort of stuff so I ate it up! This computer just wanted to ruin your life, but boy did it come after you in a hard way. So it made you think about what we give up in terms of privacy, how our whole lives are in the phone and how much computers really know about us. Then there is the bigger AI question of should we be making computers think and behave like humans cause if we do it might just bring about then end of the world as we know it. Lastly, you have the characters. The different personalities of each member of the group as well as their relationship with each other is the driving force of the story. It is the reason you care and I cared about these teenagers. Charlie’s family is in shambles. His mother got sick and passed away a few years ago and his father is a broken man. Their finances are drained and Charlie’s grades have slipped so much that Harvard is pretty much a pipe dream. You can u
Anonymous 3 months ago
Liberal cliches and President Trump slurs abound in this ridiclously bad novel. It had some potential to be good but was ruined by your TDS. I don’t want to read that disrespectful crap. *I won this on at least I didn’t waste my money BUT I did waste 3 days of my time I can never get back.
Shoeguru 3 months ago
I really enjoyed the fast paced nature of this book and how it really tied into technological advancement to create a suspenseful and dynamic story. When a group of friends discover an AI game, the possibilities for their futures make enmesh them into something that they cannot easily find a way out of. The book covers what the game is like and doing for each player. It seems enticing until they found out that this game is whole lot bigger than they ever thought possible. The sheer creativity of this book was astounding and I absolutely loved this one. I will be recommending this book and author to others.
tradeoff 3 months ago
This is a bizarre tale of what happens when artificial intelligence - or is it? - plays God and gets some gullible and potentially deranged young men, aided and encouraged by that other avatar of the tech age, social media, to let their freak flags and sociopathy fly. It's hard to put down but you'll feel much better when you do.
Anonymous 3 months ago
AI as god, manipulator of the players of the game, an interesting story in places and not so in others. I have a hard time trying to find a purpose to the tale and something I can like to recommend. I'm just going to leave it to others to decide, as I'm unimpressed.
Anonymous 3 months ago
I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can purchase your copy from Amazon here: This book had a slow start and I had a little trouble getting into it, but once I started it, I was totally absorbed in it and finished it in one sitting! We begin this book with two kids, Charlie and Peter staring at a Computer screen who are interrupted by a knock on the door by one of the kid's fathers. Now this could be a VERY awkward situation depending on the age of the boys, but this was not what you think, despite what they elude to. Charlie and his father have suffered quite the loss with his mother passing after a long battle with cancer. Thankfully, Charlie had his little group of friends to get him through his loss. They all knew about this “GOD” thing. They soon dub themselves “the Vindicators” after a little deliberation. So much happens in this book that is so surreal. I was OMGing throughout this book! The setting is a high school with kids that end up playing a game. Kids that normally would not have fit in with other kids for a variety of reasons bind together to play this game. This game is full of deceit, lies and secrets. Secret money, secret crushes, secret beatings, secret graffiti, and secret grade changes. The funny thing is about secrets is that someone else ALWAYS knows… in this case GOD seems to know everything and somehow has orchestrated all of this. GOD assigns tasks to each one of them and they are “rewarded”. The Vindicators try to unmask the address that GOD is communicating with them from, but there is so much underlying masking that the boys are unable to figure out where the messages are coming from, despite their tenacity. Collateral damage is another term that I will use with this book. Many people get caught up in this book as collateral damage. I learned so much about masking and viruses and clocking and as a mother of almost teens, this book has me scared. I am nervous about what my soon to be teens will be getting themselves into. Did you know that you can download an app that allows the user to bypass any parental settings you may have set on their device? YUP, this is real. Did you know that the kids are more tech savvy than you ever think that you can, unless you teach technology and are up on the latest and newest, etc? Who has time to play BIG Brother on their kid’s devices? I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but it reinforces my helicopter parenting and need to know what my kid is doing and with whom at all times. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did! I cannot wait to see what this author brings next!
LU 3 months ago
The God Game is one of the most exciting, bizzarre and engaging book. Everything starts with the God game, a peculiar game that attracts Charlie and his friends, Peter, Vanhi, Alex and Kenny. Intrigued by the ad they decided to play it. The rules are simple. Do good and you get Goldz and good things will happen in your life. But if you do bad or try to disobey the game, you get Blaxx and more Blaxx mean you could get killed in the game and if you die in it, you die in the real life. Skeptical and intrigued, Charlie and his friends starts doing quests, using virtual reality, around school and outside, doing missions, getting Goldz and getting more and more involved into a game that controls everything around them, from phones, to cameras, to pcs.. While trying to understand the game and what it could want with them, each of them struggles with their own lives and problems. I loved a lot of things in this book. The game itself is creepy, engaging, scary and pushed its players to do things they wouldn't usually do. It was creepy thinking about a controlling game, that deprives its players of their choices and will, manipulating and forcing them into a plot that becomes more and more convoluted. What I loved most in this book are the characters, because they are incredibly well written and authentic. Every one of them is beautifully rendered and struggling with their desires and other's expectations. Charlie, who's struggling with his mother's death and his absent father; Vanhi, with her parents' expectations and a bad grade that could prevent her from her college dream; Kenny, with his parents' desires and religion; Alex, with a powerless mother and a violent father and Peter, the golden one, the carefully deranged one, with his lies and manipulations. They found a family in each other. It was interesting reading about their growth, during the book, when they, through lies, misunderstandings, sufferings and betrayls, change, becoming more and more mature. The God game is book about friendships, love, family, growth and its characters, the main and side ones, are absolutely authentic and relatable. What it was absolutely interesting are the questions this book pose. About what's right and wrong, morality, choices and friendships. What would you do to save a loved ones? Could you let someone die to save another person? What would you do if something controlled your life? If you hadn't any control to begin with? What would you do to get what you want? Would you kill? Betray? Lie? This book was brilliant, amazing and it left me with so many questions and thoughts. Amazing was the augumented reality, that reminded me a lot of Warcross by Marie Lu and the idea of a game based on religion was interesting and so original.
girlfromwva64 3 months ago
This is the story of Charlie and his friends. Charlie and his friends enter a video game. The A1 believes it is God. They are to accomplish missions, and then hey are rewarded with expensive tech., revenge on high school bullies, and cash from ATM's. Once they start getting threatening messages, the missions are often cruel. The game then reveals secrets and also crushes their dreams. Each action or choice has consequences. This book is creative and captivating. It is dark at times and edgy. The pace doesn't slow, but it feels a bit long.
McBook 3 months ago
Five nerdy teenagers who spend their free time in the school's Tech lab discover a video game, The God Game. They accept its invitation to play. Soon they realize there are consequences, both positive and negative. Each teenager has a dream or wish -- in order to have this come true, each has to do a chore. The God Game is all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful. It raises the question, would you hurt someone or commit illegal acts in order to have your wish come true? What if you don't obey? At times, I became confused as to which teen was who. There was quite a bit of discussion about codes and computer technology which was a bit over my head. However, I remained absorbed in the book to the very end. I thank @Netgalley and @StMartinsPress for allowing me to read The God Game.
SLesko 3 months ago
Thank you Netgalley for an eARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ** You're invited!! Come and play with G.O.D OK first off I think I've watched way too many horror films because the first thing that popped in my head was: "HA! I think not!" Let me be the first to tell you my instincts would have been right. ** Charlie and his friends, a couple of outcast nerds, formed a group freshman year; and they call themselves The Vindicators. Now, during their senior year they are invited to play the G.O.D game; win and all your dreams come true... Lose, you die. Clearly this is a game from the deep dark web, and is filled to the brim with its shady characters. You've got the active players, who seem to expand worldwide; to the Watchers. Watchers observe whatever they want in a game, they wear black masks and white porcelain doll like faces. My thinking is if you start to see the watchers multiple run; nothing good can come from that many surrounding you. Once you get to a level high enough you can become one and this gives you the ability to view basically anything you want with the games help. (again... SUPER creepy) Goldz is good, this is a currency you earn while playing the game or doing things for it. Oh also if you have enough Goldz like our boy Alex in the game did you can buy these really cool Azetech glasses that blend AI game visuals and overlap them to real life... this part was REALLY cool if you ask me. Blaxx is something you want to make sure you never accumulate; I mean 2,000 got someone run over by a car.... and they earned that by trying to make a call the game didn't approve of. To say the game has controlling issues is a bit of an understatement. At first what was seeming to be a fun AI game turns very sinister. There's drug deals, satanic ritual symbols, violence, and so much more hidden within this games facade. This book while lengthy in pages will pass by in a blur while you try and figure out just what the end game is.
SharoninAZ 3 months ago
The God Game is a sci-fi thriller that is more timely than I'd like it to be. I'm not a big sci-fi fan, but I love a good thriller so I decided to give this book a change, and I'm so glad I did. The star of the book is Charlie, a broody high school senior whose mother died recently and turned his life upside down. Charlie is the heart of a small group of friends who call themselves The Vindicators. They're all very tech savvy and insular. One day they get an intriguing opportunity to play an AI game with G.O.D. Win and all your wishes come true; lose and you die. Who could resist?! Everything starts out great. The game challenges them to pretty harmless pranks and then rewards them with points that allow them to purchase high-tech gear, vanquish enemies, get free cash, etc. But of course, that's just the lure that hooks them, and once hooked, things turn very, very dark and soon morals and ethics are out the window. Ultimately Charlie realizes that he needs to get himself and his friends out of the G.O.D. game, but others have tried and no one has ever succeeded. I was fascinated for the first 80% of the book even though it was a bit longer than it needed to be. But the final 20%, which focuses on the teens trying to get out of the game, got so complex that I found myself lost in the tech of it all. The author, Danny Tobey, did a great job of developing the characters and bringing them to live. Charlie, Kenny, and Vanhi were my favorites. The storyline is solid, and the writing and dialogue were excellent. I'm glad I read it even though it was a bit outside my comfort zone. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4. Thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC.
wordsandbooksandthings 3 months ago
Charlie and his friends are not the popular kids in school. Smart in a nerdy way, they formed a computer coding club so they could have something together, something they could share, something that bonded them. Vanhi, who loves both coding and playing her bass; Kenny, who has worked so hard at school and playing the cello so his parents wouldn’t be disappointed in him the way they are with his brother, who left medical school to be a writer; Alex, whose parents hold him to the highest academic standards, going to extremes to encourage him to keep his grade up; Peter, whose mother died when he was young and now his father travels so much he is pretty much raising himself; and Charlie, whose mother died a little over a year ago and who has given up on just about everything—these are the club, the Vindicators. And everyone in the school knows it. The problem? Very few people in the school care. Despite their intelligence, they rarely date. Despite their hard work, their parents still put more pressure on them to do more, do better. Despite their friendship, they still struggle. And then they find the game. Or rather, the game found them. Offering them a chance to win the ultimate prize—all their dreams coming true, the G.O.D. game draws them in, giving them a chance to escape their daily miseries as well as a way to get rid of them altogether. They do what the game wants, they get Goldz, which they can use to get anything they want. But if they don’t do what the game wants, they get Blaxx. At first the game is fun and seems harmless, but as they level up, the tasks are more challenging. They are faced with ethical, moral, and philosophical questions about their choices that they didn’t want to consider. Their choices in the game seem to have genuine consequences to those not in the game, and they start to wonder who is running the game. Is it some AI that thinks it’s God, or is it something more? Something malevolent? And if that’s the case, can they leave the game if it gets too intense? Do they have any control of their lives anymore at all? Danny Tobey’s novel The God Game is a masterwork of popular culture, teenage angst, and the fear of what the collective unconscious of the internet could become. It is a force of words, of feelings, of imagination as readers are taken on a journey of religion and high school, of psychology and anxiety, of possibility and personal choice. This is the most intense book I’ve read in ages. I loved it, and I think everyone should read it. But be prepared. This story will take you on an emotional journey like no other! Galleys for The God Game were provided by St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley, with many thanks
rentinjen 3 months ago
I didn't love this one. The writing was great, and the premise was very Ready Player One with a little bit of something else thrown in. I'm really not into gaming, so this book was probably just not for me. It was a little hard for me to follow. Thank you #NetGalley for an early copy of #TheGodGame to review.
KWeldon 3 months ago
***I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I voluntarily reviewed this book and all opinions are my own. The God Game by Danny Tobey is an intriguing concept. A group of high school friends get invited to a super secret online game. If they do well in the game they will do well in real life but if they fail in the game they will fail in real life. The book has a "big brother is watching" feel. In today's world electronics with recording devices are everywhere. Someone could always be watching and/or listening. The author takes this idea and creates a secret gaming society that knows all, sees all, and hears all. Once you are in the game you are in for life. What would you do if someone knew all your secrets? What if they blackmailed you with your secrets? Would you do something completely against your beliefs to keep your secret? This book brings a world of possibilities to life. Technology is far reaching but exactly how far? In a world of good vs evil and right vs wrong what would you do if you or someone you love was at risk of harm? I did not want to stop reading. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book. General Fiction (adult) Release Date: January 7, 2020
gisellsamaniego 3 months ago
Unexpected twists and turns pepper this novel of friendship, family and love. The premise is unique and interesting. The characters are well thought out and relatable. The plot is a bit convoluted but driven. This is a novel that stirs emotions and the feelings of loneliness and belonging that everyone has.
EileenHutton 3 months ago
When Charlie and his friends are invited to play a new online game, they’re excited. The God Game seems like a really cool deal, and one that no one outside their circle knows about. At first the challenges are simple, but G.O.D. soon ups the demands and the moral challenge. The AI controlling the game sees all and knows all — and threatens to reveal their secrets if they don’t complete the tasks it gives them. The author is inside the heads of today’s teens, with all their problems, hopes, and dreams, making the characters true to life, and the storyline compelling. Recommended for both mature YA and adult readers. An exciting addition to the thriller universe.
JenLaRowe 3 months ago
God Game is an interesting take on Artificial Intelligence. The characters were real and not always predictable. I thought it was interesting and posed a lot of ethical questions that the characters had to answer through their choices. The ending was not at all what I expected, but that made it even more interesting. 4 stars
kathy-bookaholic 3 months ago
This is a long book. It wasn’t that it didn’t hold my attention. It has lots of issues, questions, sci-fi interest, well a little of everything. Between AI, religion and what I’ll call subtle political comments, it really covered the gamut. I don’t know if I felt this was of the YA genre because of the characters or it was that the dialect used seemed that way. It seemed young to me. Having said the above, I think this is a book you should dive into and see what you think. It just has some elements for everyone and is interesting enough to hear what everyone thinks. It definitely could evoke conversation.