Michael completed the Path. What he found at the end turned everything he’d ever known about his life—and the world—completely upside down.
He barely survived. But it was the only way VirtNet Security knew to find the cyber-terrorist Kaine—and to make the Sleep safe for gamers once again. And, the truth Michael discovered about Kaine is more complex than they anticipated, and more terrifying than even the worst of their fears.
Kaine is a tangent, a computer program that has become sentient. And Michael’s completing the Path was the first stage in turning Kaine’s master plan, the Mortality Doctrine, into a reality.
The Mortality Doctrine will populate Earth entirely with human bodies harboring tangent minds. Any gamer who sinks into the VirtNet risks coming out with a tangent intelligence in control of their body.
And the takeover has already begun.
Praise for The Rule of Thoughts, Book Two in the Mortality Doctrine series
"[An] excellent sequel...smartly paced and paired with well-balanced characters that feel real."-Kirkus Reviews
Praise for The Eye of Minds, Book One in the Mortality Doctrine series
“More realistic and addictive than any video game—The Eye of Minds sucked me in from the very first page. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets The Matrix in a vividly rendered world of gamers, hackers, and cyber-terrorists. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!”—Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of Beautiful Creatures and author of Unbreakable
“A gripping page-turner, Dashner’s latest is sure to please.”—BookPage
“Full of action [and] a rather surprising twist that will leave you flipping pages."—fanboynation.com
“An adrenaline rush.”—School Library Journal
“In typical Dashner style, this is quick and involving, with the main frustration being the wait time until the next book.”—Booklist
“High on concept, this is an intriguing read for the digital generation.”—Kirkus Reviews
"Dashner once again creates a dystopian world in which nothing is what it seems."-VOYA
A Junior Library Guild Selection
A YALSA Teen Top Ten Pick
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
James Dashner was born and raised in Georgiea but lives and writes in the Rocky Mountains. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series: The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, and The Kill Order, as well as The Eye of Minds and The Rule of Thoughts, the first two books in the Mortality Doctrine series. To learn more about James and his books, visit jamesdashner.com, follow @jamesdashner on Twitter, and find dashnerjames on Instagram.
From the Hardcover edition.
Read an Excerpt
Michael was not himself.
He lay on the bed of a stranger, staring up at a ceiling he had seen for the first time just the day before. He’d been disoriented and sick to his stomach all night, catching sleep only in fitful, anxious, nightmare-fueled jags. His life had blown apart; his sanity was slipping away. His very surroundings--the foreign room, the alien bed--were unforgiving reminders of his terrifying new life. Fear sparked through his veins.
And his family. What had happened to his family? He wilted a little more every time he pictured them.
The very first traces of dawn--a gloomy, pale light--made the shuttered blinds of the window glow eerily. The Coffin next to the bed sat silent and dark, as foreboding as a casket dug from a grave. He could almost imagine it: the wood rotting and cracked, human remains spilling out. He didn’t know how to look at the objects around him anymore. Real objects. He didn’t even understand the word real. It was as if all his knowledge of the world had been yanked out from under his feet like a rug.
His brain couldn’t grasp it all.
His . . . brain.
He almost burst out in a laugh, but it died in his chest.
Michael had only had an actual, physical brain for the last twelve hours. Not even a full day, he realized, and that pit in his stomach doubled in size.
Could it really all be true? Really?
Everything he knew was a result of artificial intelligence. Manufactured data and memories. Programmed technology. A created life. He could go on and on, each description somehow worse than the one before it. There was nothing real about him, and yet now here he was, transported through the VirtNet and the Mortality Doctrine program and turned into an actual human being. A living, breathing organism. A life, stolen. So that he could become something he didn’t even understand. His view of the world had been shattered. Utterly.
Especially because he wasn’t sure if he believed it. For all he knew, he could be in another program, another level of Lifeblood Deep. How could he ever again trust what was real and what was not? The uncertainty would drive him mad.
He rolled over and screamed into his pillow. His head--his stolen, unfamiliar head--ached from the thousands of thoughts that pounded through it, each one fighting for attention. Fighting to be processed and understood. And feeling pain here was no different from feeling it as a Tangent. Which only served to confuse him more. He couldn’t accept that before last night he’d just been a program, a long line of code. It didn’t compute. That did make him laugh, and the pain in his head intensified and spread, slicing down his throat and filling his chest.
He yelled again, which didn’t help, then forced himself to swing his legs off the bed and sit up. His feet touched the cool wooden floor, reminding him once again that he was now in a strange land. Lush carpet had blanketed the apartment he’d always known, which seemed homier, warmer, safe. Not cold and hard. He wanted to talk to Helga, his nanny. He wanted his parents.
And those were the thoughts that almost did him in completely. He’d been avoiding them, pressing them back into that pulsing swirl of thousands of other thoughts, but they weren’t going anywhere. They stood out and demanded attention.
Helga. His parents.
If what Kaine had said was true, they were as synthetic as Michael’s programmed fingernails had been. Even his memories. He would never know which ones had been programmed into his artificial intelligence and which ones he’d actually experienced within the code of Lifeblood Deep. He didn’t even know how long he’d existed--his true age. He could be two months old, or three years, or a hundred.
He imagined his parents and Helga as fake, or gone, or dead, maybe never there in the first place. It just didn’t make sense.
The ache that had crept its way into his chest filled his heart, and grief overtook him. He slumped back onto the bed and rolled over, pushing his face into the pillow. For the first time in his existence, Michael cried as an actual human being. But the tears felt no different than they ever had before.