cover image The God Game

The God Game

Danny Tobey. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (464p) ISBN 978-1-250-30614-2

This grim sophomore novel from Tobey (The Faculty Club) mixes the teen horror and cyber thriller genres for a glimpse of the cruelty that anonymity and the internet make possible. Charlie Lake is one of the founders of the Vindicators, a group of senior geeks at an Austin, Tex., high school who gather in the tech lab and play the occasional harmless prank. Charlie’s nihilistic friend, Peter Quine, introduces them to the G.O.D. game, which supposedly amounts to “the sum total of human conceptions about the divine come alive, able to express itself and answer questions and spout new proverbs and instructions.” Charlie, Peter, and the three other members of the group each have pressures and secrets in their lives that leave them open to the game’s demands. These begin fairly innocuously, but rapidly move to mysterious missions, violent pranks, and betrayals of each other, culminating with the “bargain” of a death for freedom from the game. The heartlessness on display may put off some readers, but fans of AI run amok should relish this one. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Jan.)