Let's Get Psyched about Reading: The Rule of Thoughts

What is reality? This was not the question I was expecting to see in James Dashner's Novel 'The Eye of Minds', but it made for an incredibly interesting read. Micheal and his friends are fighting to maintain the balance between the real world and the virtual world, but what is the difference? In this episode I talk all about the dilemmas facing Micheal and his friends during their adventures in 'The Mortality Doctrine' series. Stay tuned for a review on book 3 soon and check out the link below to join in on the goodreads discussion.
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DJ Psyched's YouTube Video for The Rule of Thoughts

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Episode transcript from Otter.ai:

I'm DJ Psyched, you're listening to the Get Psyched podcast. And today we're talking about the Rule of Thoughts by James Dashner. This book has been far different than I was expecting, at least as far as what it was going to stand for what it was going to mean, what kind of social relevance it was going to have. I was just expecting this to be a really fun story. I remember reading in high school, and just kind of taking it for face value and thinking, well, this is an interesting story about a kid in a video game world. The deeper you get into this series, the more you'll see, it's way different than that. It has a lot of philosophical talk behind it. It's got a lot of ideas from philosophy, and what is life? And are we living in a simulation? What does it mean to be a person. There's a lot of really deep questions in here that I wasn't quite expecting. Maybe I just didn't notice it in high school, maybe I just kind of brushed it off. But the more I read this, the more I can see that it's very clear the author wants you get that idea from it, the author wants you to pick up on these cues. 

Before we get into them and talk about the basic details of this book. This is, like I said, the Rule of Thoughts by James Dashner. This is the second book series by the author. The first is the Maze Runner series, I started this series back in high school, this is my second time reading it and I'm getting a lot of different things from it. Like I said, the genre of this book is science fiction, contemporary fantasy and young adult fiction, the length of the book is 325 pages. And I want to give you a short summary of what this book is about. Like I said, this is the second book in the eye of minds trilogy, spoiler alert. Last book, we left off finding out that Michael was a tangent, and he woke up in the body of a person named Jackson Porter. This book starts out with Michael learning about his life and trying to figure out what to do next. He's learning who Jackson Porter is. But at the same time, he's still on a huge mission. He's trying to stop cane and he needs to know what to do next, since he's no longer in the sleep, and he feels like he can't trust the vns he decides his only move is to go out in the real world and find his friends. So Bryson, Sara and Michael meet up in the real world. And they try to figure out what to do together. Because the stakes are way higher in the real world, they can't just program themselves out of things, they have to learn how to fight this thing. In the real world, they have to make real life decisions. And they are trying to understand the difference between fighting this thing in the real world and the virtual world. And they try to go between both, they do a little bit in the sleep, they do a little bit in the way. So yeah, they just kind of hop between the sleep and the wake to try and catch Canaan, both world. That's what this book is mostly about.

Now, I'm gonna get into spoilers in a second here. But I did want to say that this book was a lot more intense than the first one. I think it was faster paced, I think I was more into it. Because I already knew what the story was, the groundwork was laid. And now this is all action scene after scene, this book was action move, let's do something, let's get to the next part. And so it wasn't really as slow as the first book, which I thought was really nice on James Asher is part to make this book a bit more intense, especially because in what I was talking about earlier, it definitely gets more intense in those questions about what is life? And what does it mean to be a person, this whole book, like I said, is very much reflective of the idea of, are we in a simulation? How would we know if we were in a simulation? What would it be like it? What's the difference between being in some kind of simulation? And this not being reality? versus being in reality? What does it even mean? To be in reality? I really admire this book or the way it tackles that question. It's unique. It's fun. It's cool. I think it's really nice when you delve into how James dashner put that question into a young adult fiction book. For anyone who doesn't know the way that this story works is there's this world called asleep. And it's a video game system, you lay in this coffin thing. And you have these little wires in your body. That'll send a little chemicals and stuff so that whatever you're doing in the sleep, which is the video game, you'll feel it in real life. So if you get hurt in the game, you'll feel it. But if you die in the game, you're just going to wake up because there's this thing in your head called the core, which separates your like living body from your fake body. So even though you can feel what's going on, you would survive. If you died in the game, you would just wake up and have to start over in the game. And the game is like a version of real life. There's shops, there's malls, there's all these things, you can just relax and hang out with your friends at a park in the video game. You could do anything. It's not just video games, which is an interesting question as to then what is reality right? If you could jump in this game and live a boring mundane life time's going by in the sleep time's going by in the wake.

What's the difference between doing things in the sleep and doing things in real life? And that's something that our characters start to ponder more as they're on this journey and trying to understand things because they were all addicted to being in the sleep and now they're living more in the wake and they're trying to stop this guy who's trying to break the boundaries. between living in the sleep and living in the wake. And so they're kind of forced to face these questions, right? Who are we? What's our reality? And Michael gets this the worst out of all of them because like I said, Michael found out he was a tangent. He wasn't a real person in the real world. When he woke up in the wake, it was just an illusion to him. He was just waking up in a different part of the video game, because a tangent is just artificial intelligence. He was fake. He was made up by the creators of the game. And he thought he was a real person. He believed he was a real person. He had memories and thoughts, he could feel things, he made friends. He believed he was a real person, but he was a tangent the whole time. And then it kind of sparks the question, well, then what makes a person a real person, because he had real people experiences he had real friends, he thought he was real. The only difference between him and a real person was the fact that he couldn't wake up in a physical body. But he still had all the characteristics of a real person. So it's kind of like, was Michael real before he got the body? Because now his memories, his thoughts, what really kind of made him Michael in his head is inside of a human body. So now Michael, is a person. But was Michael always a person. That's kind of something that Michael is battling within himself. And it's something that this book is talking about a lot. Are these tangents people because they act and speak and have the experiences of people but they didn't have physical bodies until they took over the physical bodies of real people. And another question Michael has for himself. Something that he's pondering a lot is, well, what happened to Jackson Porter?

Jackson borders the body he took over so the kid whose memories and thoughts and experiences were once in that head, where did he go? Where did Jackson Porter go? Is this still Jackson Porter? In a sense, his body's here, his family can recognize him. He's physically Jackson Porter. So does Jackson Porter still exists out there? How could you transfer like, what how would you wipe a mind out of its brain and the body still going? Is Jackson Porter still around? We don't get the answer to that in this book. But I did just start reading the third book. So stick around in this series, because I will review that soon. And I think we're going to get some answers to that. But in this book, we don't exactly get to find out where those bodies are. But that is something Michael ponders. He's like, well, helgen my parents, are they still around? Like, they didn't get a body, but they were tangents? Do they still get to exist? Were they real? Are they real? Yeah, that's a huge part of this book. I think it's really interesting. I love the way that he approached the topic. And it gets it gets deeper, don't worry about it. 

Let's talk a little bit more about some questions in this book that gets so philosophical for the story. It's an interesting story, because it's kind of starts off just seeming like this little quiet game thing in the first book, like, okay, there's a game, some guys doing something bad. The people who created the game, ask these kids to try and fix it. And then you find out everyone has some weird, hidden agenda. There's something way deeper going on. This is gonna impact all of life. And then they're questioning life. And they're just having these existential crisis. And it goes from this like, a cute little adventure to like, what is happening and some of the other questions that they ponder during this, what in the world is going on? thing is what does it mean to be real? What does even mean to be in the wake because when they're in the sleep, they feel absolutely everything. It's like true existence, they build their friendships in the sleep. This book is the first time him and his friends ever met in the real world.

Yet, they're really tight. They're closely bonded. Once they meet in the world for the first time, they feel like they've known each other forever. So what what is reality? Why do we consider something that isn't reality? reality? What makes something a reality? What's the difference? What is the difference between being in the wake and being in the sleep? How would you know? You're in the wake or in the sleep? Oh, if you didn't just know, okay, obviously, you went to the coffin, and now you're in the sleep. But if you didn't do that, how would you know the difference? What you wouldn't? Michael didn't. So that's something that it comes up a lot in this book. What is good and bad? That's another huge one in this book, who is the good guy and who is the bad guy? Something we're facing a lot in this book is that Michael has no idea who to trust. He has no idea who's good or bad. But it's also hard for him to define what would make a person good or what would make a person bad in this scenario, the vns tricked him is the vns bad Well, okay, so then we get into the idea of does the end justify the means because the vns did trick him they did withhold information, but the vns is claiming that they're trying to take down cane, and they're claiming that Cain has an ulterior motive. They don't understand it yet, but they know it's bad because cain is stealing bodies. And cain is talking about making people immortal and just everything he's saying. They're like, Okay, this is definitely the bad guy cuz his end game is terrible, but the vns just wants to take him down. So do the ends justify the means right? They lied to Michael and his friends. They're still withholding information from them. They're acting really weird. Is the vns good or bad is tame, good or bad. Kane hasn't explained what his endgame is, is Cain as bad as he seems. And that's something Michael is really struggling with right now because he doesn't even know who's good or bad. 

He's just been thrown into the situation that he doesn't have all the details of. He doesn't understand it. So he doesn't know whose side he should truly beyond and he's not on cane side, he's not even considering that. But he's also not sure if he can trust the vns or his friends, the only people he can trust. He has a lot of trust issues. And I already started reading the third book, like I said, and yeah, he definitely has some trust issues now. But that comes from the fact that he just doesn't really know who's good and bad at this point, along with the confusion of who's good and bad, because there's this question of what is the vns want? Why is agent Webber acting so weird all the time? Michael has no idea who to trust? Who do you trust, when you can't really decide who's good and who's bad when you can't really decide whose ends are justifying their means. Who do you trust, when you don't know what's going on? And when you can't be sure of reality, when you can't be 100%? Sure of what's happening? How do you know who to trust? How do you know what to do? How do you make decisions when everything is so fuzzy and blurry and doesn't really make sense? That's something Michael and his friends are going through, especially starting this third book. But in the second book, he's definitely like, I don't even know what to do, because I don't even know who to trust. I don't know what's real. And he's just having this crisis in his head the whole time that he's just acting and trying to trying to do the right thing. But at this point, he doesn't even know what that is. 

Now, real quick, I want to go back into the talk of what is real and how do we perceive things? I think there was a really interesting question this story with a character named Gabby, Gabby is Jackson Porter's girlfriend, the Jackson Porter that lived in the human body before Michael was in there. Jackson and Gabby, were like really in love. You can tell by their messages to each other that Michael sees on his phone. Gabby really loved Jackson. And he assumes that Jackson loved her back because of the way that she was acting and talking to him. Gabby is really confused as a character because at first, you know, obviously she just doesn't believe anything Michael says because she's like, okay, that you're saying that your brain has been hijacked into my boyfriend's brain, like Stop being ridiculous Jackson. But eventually she comes around. She's like, what's wrong with you, Jackson? Like, why have you been acting this way? And she really catches him when he slips up, because he doesn't want to talk to her much. He knows that if he speaks to her, she's gonna know he's not Jackson, or there's something wrong there. Because he can't act like Jackson Porter. He doesn't know Jackson Porter. You can't impersonate someone you've never met. And he knows that what makes him him is different from what makes Jackson, Jackson.

So he interacted with her. She would find out something was up. So we tried to avoid her. But then she came to him and she he just he couldn't avoid it at that point. So we tried to be brief. He was like, Okay, if I just do something really quick, just say something and run away. She'll never know. She'll just think Jackson's acting weird. And so he just says, like, I he's, I don't remember what he says exactly. But he says something. And he's like Gabriella and then runs away, because that's her full name. And she is like, confused and ends up finding him a little later on. And she's like, tell me what's going on because you just called me Gabriola. And you don't ever call me that. 

And that's when he realizes this tiniest mistake that he made that's kind of exposed to him. So he explains more to her when she does consider coming around. And she's like, Okay, well, there's definitely something going on here. He's like, well, believe me, then believe me that I'm not your boyfriend. That's something crazy is happening here. It's hard to understand. But you need to believe me, I am not Jackson Porter. And she's able to say You're right. I don't actually believe you. I think what you're saying is bizarre, but you are not Jackson Porter. And that's kind of a big moment in this book, I think because it's a part of what he's thinking. He keeps thinking like, well, what makes a person a person what makes me me, he knows he's not Jackson Porter. And now having another character to look at the body of Jackson Porter, the body of a man she loved the body of someone who she still has confused feelings about because she loved him so much, even though she's confused about what's happening. She's She's so conflicted at this point, because she's like, you're right. You're not Jackson Porter. But she says that, like she still loves him or something she tries a few times to say, but I love you. Because she's so confused. She's looking at the body of the person she loves. But she doesn't feel a connection to him because he's acting so different. And he's not mentally the person that she loves. But physically, he looks just like the person that she loves. And she's really confused because she's like, you're not Jackson Porter, but you kind of are Jackson Porter. I think that's a big part of like, the philosophy behind this book, right? Like, what makes you you? Is your body a part of who you are? Or is it all up in your brain? Is it a little bit of both? 

And then we get a bit of that perspective of it. Could it be both with Gabby because Gabby, even though she knows it's not really him in there, she can't help but try and help him a lot and still love him. She still loves Jackson Porter, although Jackson Porter is not really in there, kind of he's kind of Jackson Porter. So yeah, I thought that was a pretty interesting and fun part of the story. Also, Michael says himself that even though he doesn't know Gabby, like that, he kind of has an interesting feeling inside. When he sees her like he has like this inclination to speak to her at times and he has this inclination to help her and even though he doesn't love gab, he doesn't know this girl doesn't know anything about her. He kind of has this natural pull towards her. I guess that's another part of it right like he is physically in Jackson Porter's body. So even though he doesn't know Gabby on a mental level, and he doesn't actually love her himself, the body of Jackson quarter probably still loves Gabby, which is why he feels some sort of pull towards her and it makes him feel guilty. He doesn't know anything about Gabby, it should be easy for him to tell his friends. Yeah, I met this girl Gabby, he doesn't tell his friends. He actually waits until he absolutely can't hide it anymore to bring Gabby up because he likes his friend Sarah. And he feels a certain level of guilt towards what he's feeling towards Gabby and what he's thinking of Gabby and the fact that Gabby exists in Jackson Porter's life and he's in Jackson borders body. He just has this weird confusion in his head. He's like, I don't like Gabby. I like Sarah. But I don't want to bring Gabby up to Sarah, because there is something very weird going on here. As far as this body's connection to Gabby, and me being in this body. And I think that whole scenario is just kind of interesting.

You could really, if you really get into it, think about it like does that mean that Jackson Porter he mentally loves Gabby, but also physically now his body loves Gabby. And that is a real thing I learned about that in social psychology, you love someone on a mental level. And then once you know you've been around them a lot, your body releases these good chemicals when you're with the person you love. And when you do things together, your body grows and attachment to the person you have just like you mentally grow that attachment to them. So even though Jackson Porter is not in his body, his body still is capable of loving Gabby, it's a cool point for him to have brought up and it was a neat way to throw it into the story. And last part of this I'm going to talk about is Helga and his parents, Michael had this nanny named Helga because his parents were super rich and always on business trips. So she took care of him. And he had a family though he loved his family. But when all this went down, Cain basically told him like your family has been wiped out, your family doesn't exist anymore. And he's kind of going through this whole thing in his head of like they existed, that they existed to me. He's like, he's telling himself he's like, they existed in my memories. I remember them, I pretty sure I interacted with them. So they must have been real.

Now, I'm gonna spoil the ending for you here, because it was a huge part of what I've been talking about so far. At the end of the story, basically, what happens is, Agent Weber tells them like, okay, you just need to take this thing you hear, it's like a bomb, kind of, you're going to place it where Kane core is in the game. And then you're going to set it off and get out of there. And it'll destroy Kane, and he'll be over. And that's it. So we're going to sink you into the game, we're going to do all this work to get you into the secret place. And then it's up to you to destroy him. Once you're in there we'll pull you out. Once you're done with the mission, since you know they're in the game, they can be pulled out of the game, she's like, I'll pull you out once you're done. Don't worry about it. So Michael and his friends, what's going to happen is they go into the sleep, they go through this process called the squeeze and then they'll wake up in the place they need to be. So they're going to kind of wake up twice. What happens is they do that they go into the sleep, they get squeezed into that part of the game that they need to be in and they wake up and they do the mission. However, once they set off the detonator, they don't get pulled out. And they're kind of like what like Michaels like what's happening, like, we were in danger, this thing's about to go off, and we're still in this building. And then the cops show up and they drag them out. And they're just like, Can you just pull us out the game already, please, like, this is getting really bad. 
Maybe they're still out there somewhere. How could they not? How could they just go from existing to not existing, he's going through this whole thing in his head, he's like, they existed to me, I remember the memories I have with them. They were my family, they were the ones I had in the real world. They have to be real, there has to be something there. And it's just kind of like interesting. Like I said, I wish I could just talk about the second and third book together, because I just started reading the third one. And it kind of goes deeper into a lot of these, but I'll talk about that on the next one. Just tune in, stay tuned, if you want to know what happens next. But yeah, he's definitely kind of going through this thing inside where he's like, they have to have been real, they are still really got to be somewhere. And he's just having this moment of like, well, what what is reality? Because if they were tangents, where they never real, were they as conscious and aware as I am like, he's kind of just wondering, like, was that real? Or were they just programmed as memories into my head? And if they were programming the memories in my head, doesn't that kind of mean that they were real, because I remember them. And so he's just kind of like going through in his head, like, he feels like he lost something really great. But at the same time, he feels like maybe he lost absolutely nothing, how could he have lost something, he's not even real himself. And he's kind of just going through a huge existential crisis because of all this, and I think it's really neat. 

And then Gabby comes running out of nowhere. And that's when it dawns on Michael. They're not in the game anymore. They're in reality, it's just this huge trippy moment in the book because you're reading it and you're like, Okay, Michael's in the he's in the fake world, and he's doing this and he's trying to destroy Kane, but the cops are here. It's okay. This kind of thing happens is expected for things not to go perfectly. They're trying to destroy Kane's core. But then you find out that they're not even in the game anymore. When they passed out and woke up in the game, they were in the game. But when they passed out again, to go into the second level of the game, somebody pulled their real bodies out of the coffins and put them in reality so that they would destroy something. In the real world, instead of destroying something in the game like they thought they were. And it's just like, Michael is just a he has had enough at this point because he's like, I was already questioning what is reality? I'm fake. It was my world all fake. And now he can't trust reality one bit because he thought he was in a video game doing something that would not hurt anyone because it's in a video game. And apparently, he blew up an entire building in the real world. And he's just like, what is reality? How could I possibly tell the difference? When you've created a virtual world that looks so real?

He's just basically going through that thing you go through when you take your first philosophy class where you're like, are we in a simulation? Are we in a simulation? How would I know? How do I even know at this point? If I'm in reality, because I thought I was in a video game 20 minutes ago, and apparently I'm in reality, am I in reality, or am I in the game? Am I still in the game and he's just like, losing it, I think is amazing. But also someone comes in I don't remember who someone comes in to visit him because he's in jail now he blew up a building, he him and his friends are in jail. Someone comes to visit him while he's in jail. And they're like taunting him. They just start taunting him. They're like, how would you ever know when you're in reality? You could be in another sleep right now, in this jail, you could be asleep. If you could wake up again, and realize this wasn't reality? How many times could you wake up before you were sure you were in a reality? And he's just messing with him? And he's like, you'd wake up, and you think you're in real life now? And then you'd wake up and think you're in real life now? And then you'd wake up? And how would you ever know, once you make it to reality? 

This guy's just taunting him. And Michael's already like, Yeah, I don't know, please stop talking about this waking up over and over again thing, because I did wake up and I thought that I was in the game. But apparently I was in the real world, I'm just saying the same thing over and over again. 

But that's what this book is emphasizing. Like, they don't know what to trust anymore. They don't know what's going on anymore. The only times they can tell that they're in the game, or when they can do things that they couldn't possibly do in the real world, you know, like teleporting and stuff with your mind and messing with the code in a certain way. But other than that, in the moments where they can't just blatantly see where they are, how do they know that they're in reality? And yeah, I think that's what most of the story is about. I think that's the point. I'm pretty sure that's what the point of the story is, and it's great. I think it's really fun. It's a good story. It's really fun paced, I like the characters, I'm not quite in love with the story, the way I was the Maze Runner, and I'm only comparing these two series because they're both by the same author. And I think they are both really fantastic series. They have their own different points. But I think that they're very different in certain ways. Because in the rule of thoughts, you know, the iron mines trilogy, I think the story is very much trying to highlight these thoughts of like, what is reality and all that and you're following the story very heavily, characters don't develop too much. The love story is very much hidden. It's hardly like it's there. But he's not trying to make a big deal out of it at all. It's not a big part of the story. It's all about the story and what's happening and Michael's interpretation of reality, but the Maze Runner series was very much a character development, there was love, there was all this other stuff happening while the world is being destroyed. But in this one, it's all about a kid questioning what reality is. And I really love it. I think it's a really cool and unique story. It's a unique way to tell the story. And I love what James dashner did with this series. 

So yeah, that's Book Two, the rule of thoughts. This is the eye of minds trilogy. And like I said, I'm reading the third book right now. So very soon, I will have a review out of the book, The Game of lives. I'mpsyched to talk about it. There's one last thing I like to do with these book club episodes, I like to ask a question for us to discuss and you can go into the link below. If this is on YouTube, go into the link in the description. It is on the podcast websites, you can find it in the description as well. I'm going to have a link to a good reads. And we're going to talk about a book club discussion question for this book. Today's question is going to be very philosophical. Let's talk a bit about what James Asher is talking about in this book. How do we make a concept out of reality? How do we really think about reality? How do we think about what makes us people? I just kind of want to know your thoughts on these philosophical discussions? Do you think they're really stupid and you hate them? I know some people who do they're just like, I don't care. I don't think we're in a simulation. This is real, like, let it go. But when you really start to get into like philosophy, and you kind of start to understand why people say these weird things, it can be a slippery slope of like, well, what makes me a person then like, Is it my mind? My brain? Where is my mind? Is this all stuff that I'm perceiving? Or is this all real? I don't know. It's interesting to think about philosophy. It's interesting to think about these questions. It can be kind of annoying, though. So just let me know, do you think it's really annoying and you don't care about the simulation theories? You don't care about the brain and the VAT thing? Or do you think there's something to it? Do you think there's something to what James Asher is talking about here? I'm excited to see what you think. Just let me know in the good reads, you can let me know in the comment section below if you're on YouTube, as well. And thank you for listening. If you listen to this whole podcast, I'm excited to do next week's episode, so stay tuned and until next time... Stay Psyched.
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