Mind Games by Kiersten White – Review


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Published: Feb. 19, 2013 by HarperTeen

Genre: Paranormal, dystopia

Pages: 237

Received: From library

Sisters Fia and Annie are… talented. That’s how the boarding school they attend puts it, anyway. Perhaps a better term would be psychic. Annie, although blind, can see visions of the future – beginning with the one that killed their parents. Fia, on the other hand, has perfect instincts – the ability to know in less than a fraction of a second which is the right choice to make, an ability only she possesses. Due to its uniqueness, Fia’s power is very valuable, and the school doesn’t intend to waste it. Since she arrived, she’s been put through incredibly intense training to test her abilities, her instincts put to use picking stocks, committing espionage… and now killing. If she doesn’t follow her orders, she knows Annie – held hostage by the school’s owner, Mr. Keane, to ensure her cooperation – will be killed. But she can’t bring herself to murder her target, putting herself and Annie in danger that, even with both their abilities, they may not be able to get out of…

The best word to describe Mind Games is probably propulsive.There really isn’t time to wander off on side plots or take a break for some comic relief – it’s a straight, crazy shot from beginning to end, over the book’s short 237-page running time. This isn’t a bad thing; there’s no slack to the story and no pacing issues or unnecessary time spent in introspection by the narrators (something a lot of female YA protagonists fall prey to, at the expense of the story.) However, perhaps a tiny bit of the extremely fast pace could have been sacrificed for a little more world building and explanation. I never got very much of a feel for Annie’s character, for example, and knowing more about Keane’s plans and why we should be against him would have raised the stakes a lot higher and given the plot more of a sense of urgency. Hopefully some of these things, as well as the full extent of the psychic powers that give the series their basis, will be fleshed out in the sequel.

While a lot of readers may find Fia’s narrative, with its repetition and stream-of-consciousness style, annoying bordering on unreadable, I personally found it one of the book’s strong points. Fia is completely mentally broken, both from her training and what she’s had to do to protect her sister, and it shows in her chapters. She reads like someone who’s gone insane, instead of the “oh, by the way, have I mentioned I’m crazy?” with nothing to back it up that plagues many books with similar types of protagonist.

Annie was much less compelling to me, unfortunately, but I did find the relationship between her and Fia very interesting, especially the way the two girls blamed themselves for the other’s situation. If only they’d shared more screentime, and the reader got more of a sense of their bond instead of just being told how much they cared for each other, it could have been one of the strongest points of the book.

From what reviews I’ve seen of the sequel, Perfect Lies, it improves on the major problems I had with Mind Games, and I’m very much looking forward to its 2014 release. (Even if that title sounds like something that would be found on a New Adult romance cover, instead of YA dystopian. I mean… really?) Mind Games definitely isn’t perfect, or even close to it, but it was an enjoyable, exciting read for sure.


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