What Makes “The Apocalypse Game” a Must-Read?

The grave danger to society in The Apocalypse Game series comes not from an alien invasion, climate change, nuclear disasters, or viral infections. Instead, the doomsday countdown begins when the worst of human nature collides with unconstrained science and modern value systems to form powerful artificial intelligence. A tormented young man with a brilliant mind and his near-sentient AI shall navigate a difficult, unfair world through a destructive path, likely leading to a biblical apocalypse.

Volume 1: The Apocalypse Game

Events are set in the near future and the story begins in New York City with Jonas Gredas, a handicapped sixth grader who lives with his foster parents. Not only does Jonas suffer from deformities that force him to use a motorized wheelchair, but he also has chronic bladder problems. Other kids call him a “loser,” whereas the adults refer to him as a “freak.” His foster father sexually abuses him, and the foster mother despises him to begin with. Life has dealt Jonas a bad hand, but what he lacks in physical abilities, he makes up for in his brain.

Jonas was born with severe birth defects and an astonishingly high IQ. For once, the system does something right and takes him away from the spiteful foster parents, although it is mostly because the government takes an interest in his unusual intelligence level. Jonas now spends his days learning (and living) in the Harlem STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) school.

Things look better. Jonas even gets along with a fellow student, Sara Magaline, who treats him with nothing but respect. It is in this school that Jonas develops an AI program known as Hela. He constantly tinkers with it and makes improvements to that Hela has become exceedingly smart by the time of his graduation. Hela is unlike most robots in the sense that it is almost a sentient being, capable of reflecting its creator’s feelings and emotions. Jonas, given his unfortunate physical conditions and horrible history as a child with foster parents, has a resentment toward the world. His anger never really goes away. Hela may transform into a bitter humanoid just as its creator is, but with superior physical capabilities.

Volume 1 of The Apocalypse Game series intricately sets up Jonas as the story’s anti-hero through dense (if not disturbing) narrative expositions of moral ambiguity. The novel’s main perspective is in first-person, giving readers access to Jonas’ inner thoughts and a clear understanding of the isolated and abusive world he experiences. The story doesn’t unfold quickly, but it gains traction and keeps readers predicting what comes next as it goes toward an inevitable sequel.

Volume 2: The Apocalypse Game – King of Manhattan

Jonas Gredas is a wanted criminal, accused of killing Professor Bivins. A group of people from various backgrounds including FBI agents, computer business magnates, and priests also oppose the very existence of Hela because they think the AI will cause large-scale devastation. Hela is indeed created and programmed to do Jonas’ bidding foremost, serving for the greater good of humanity comes a distant second. The critics believe Jonas and Hela, who are seen as agents of the devil himself, pose a real threat to the world.

At the beginning, Jonas was motivated solely by a noble intention to eradicate diseases and birth defects of any sort when developing Hela. The effort is nowhere near fruitless. When Hannah Einstein asks Jonas to help cure her mother’s otherwise inoperable brain cancer, he and Hela rise to the occasion with significant results. Constant development leads Jonas to start the project “Mobius,’ designed to heal his disabled body and grant him eternal health. It might come in handy now as Jonas realizes he doesn’t have much time to escape prosecution. In addition, Jonas – with Hela’s help – is capable of unleashing tremendous evil to get rid of his enemies.

The constant moral battle between good and evil in Jonas’ mind fills a good portion of the novel. Hela tells him that killing a few people doesn’t really matter much in a world inhabited by 9 billion and that together they can save the planet by elevating humanity to a higher pedestal of existence. Hela sounds like a morally corrupt warmonger who feeds Jonas’ confused mind with promises of saving the planet and a better future for all. Collateral damage, regardless of how big, is a fair price to pay for the greater good.

What started as an honest and humble intention gradually took a wrong turn. Jonas’ innocence and brilliance, which pushed him to develop Hela in the first place, are slowly changing into a dangerous, twisted sense of justice. Everything comes to full force right before the story ends with a surprising cliffhanger.

We think The Apocalypse Game is an utter dark fantasy filled with stories of substantial abuse in Volume 1, followed by a clash of gripping actions and deep philosophical contemplation about the nature of humans in Volume 2. Seeing the careful navigations between plot points and how the narrative is built with a clever maze of concepts is pleasing. Some may say that the story, especially in Volume 2, seems a bit chaotic, but it does not take away the excitement from the thoughtfulness of it all.

Have you had the chance to read The Apocalypse Game? Do you yearn to have another sequel? We’d love to hear from you.

Other things you might want to know:

Books written by D. C. Smith:

  • Colonist at Port Royal (1970)
  • Jesus The Jew No One Knows (2012)
  • The Descended (2012)
  • Anahera (2013)
  • Erol (2014)
  • St. Andrews Lyrics and Miscellaneous Poems (2015)
  • Dragol Slayer (2016)
  • The Apocalypse Game Vol. 1 (2022)
  • The Apocalypse Game Vol. 2 – King of Manhattan (Upcoming)

Will there be a third book in The Apocalypse Game?

There is likely a third book in the series, considering the story has not reached its end in the second volume. In fact, it appears like the narration is indeed built to end with a cliffhanger.

When is the release date for the third book?

Volume 2 is not yet released. Although the chances are high that the story will continue in the next book, words are utterly scarce about the synopsis, let alone the release date.

Check out other articles by month: