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|The Game of Lives|
|Publication date||November 17, 2015|
|Published by||Delacorte Press|
| Preceded by|
The Rule of Thoughts
| Followed by|
Michael used to live to game, but the games he was playing have become all too real. Only weeks ago, sinking into the Sleep was fun. The VirtNet combined the most cutting-edge technology and the most sophisticated gaming for a full mind-body experience. And it was Michael’s passion. But now every time Michael sinks, he risks his life. The games are over. The VirtNet has become a world of deadly consequences, and Kaine grows stronger by the day. The Mortality Doctrine—Kaine’s master plan—has nearly been realized, and little by little the line separating the virtual from the real is blurring. If Kaine succeeds, it will mean worldwide cyber domination. And it looks like Michael and his friends are the only ones who can put the monster back in the box—if Michael can figure out who his friends really are.
After escaping from prison, Michael is on the road with Sarah, her parents, and Bryson. Michael falls asleep and dreams of his nanny, Helga. He tells her about the things that have been happening to him while she works in the kitchen of their old apartment, too busy to reply to him. Finally, she tells Michael that he must return to the Hallowed Ravine. Michael then wakes up from the dream.
As the group drives through mountains in North Georgia, making their way to an address provided to them by the group of Tangents who rescued Sarah's parents in The Rule of Thoughts, Michael reflects on his dream. He believes that Helga and his parents are dead, but there is a strange coincidence: the group who rescued Sarah's parents were lead by a Tangent named Helga. Michael isn't sure what to make of it. After a while (and after vomiting), Michael cheers up. He thinks about his plan to return to the Hallowed Ravine, although he hasn't had a chance to discuss it with Bryson and Sarah yet. Sarah's parents tell Michael and his friends that they were freed from a warehouse where their kidnappers had held them by the Tangents, led by Helga, given a car, and instructions to meet at an address in the Appalachian Mountains.
The group arrives at their destination high in the mountains. There are abandoned military buildings that are dilapidated and surrounded by an old forest. Michael and his friends are doubtful, but they follow Helga and Sarah's parents inside. Michael talks with Helga, and he is finally convinced that she is the same Helga who was his nanny. Michael convinces the others to trust her, and Helga tells them that she and her followers plan to give the human bodies they are using back.