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Mind Games by Kiersten White

Mind Games (edition 2013)

by Kiersten White

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245None48,362 (3.87)4
Title:Mind Games
Authors:Kiersten White
Info:HarperTeen (2013), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:young adult

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Mind Games by Kiersten White


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This is a fluid sci/fi psychological thriller with a cast of teen and adult psychics.

I will admit, up front, that I love Kiersten White books. So, it is no surprise that I loved this one.

It was a little jarring to switch time frames continually, but it worked in the end.

( )
  Angelina-Justice | Feb 3, 2014 |
Mind Games is not a typical young adult supernatural thriller. Gone is the love triangle with its forced angst and other conflicts. Absentee parents are no longer an issue since the girls are orphans. The supernatural element is subtle even if it is a large part of the story. The world in which the story unfolds is not on its death throes or in the process of rebuilding; it has not suffered a catastrophe of some import and is not subject to an insidious dictatorship.

Rather, Fia’s main love is her sister, to whom she is bound by a profound sense of sisterhood, love, and duty. Their orphan status is an interesting twist that heightens their bond and need for each other, just as Annie’s blindness increases the protectiveness Fia feels for Annie. It is this complex love for Annie which keeps her at the Keane Institute and which provides them with the leverage required for Fia to act against her instincts. A boy does enter the picture, and there is a mutual spark of interest between them, but it really is Fia and Annie’s relationship which drives the story.

There is no doubt that what the Keane Institute is doing is highly illegal, and one cannot help but feel as uncomfortable and on edge as Fia does from the moment she steps foot inside its walls. However, the danger, like Fia’s powers, is subtle. There are no overt threats, no obvious “do this or else” statements. The implied danger belies the caring overtones of the facility and creates a pit of tension in a reader’s stomach.

As Mind Games is the first book of a series, neither Fia nor the reader can see the total scope or Fia’s role within it. The hints are few and far between so that readers will have to sit tight to determine the ultimate purpose of the Keane Institute. However, the point of emphasis here is that it is the Keane Institute that is the “bad guy”, not the government official or society rules. Take away Annie’s visions and Fia’s perfect intuition, and the story becomes nothing more than a corporate thriller with political undertones.

This is not to say that the supernatural element in Mind Games is not interesting or necessary. In fact, one could easily say it is specifically because of women and girls like Fia and Annie which makes their world so interesting. To have one’s every thought and emotion at the mercy of others denotes a scary absence of privacy, something at which Ms. White only hints. This lack of privacy and more importantly the meaning behind it ties into the lack of the big picture and the tantalizing insinuations that future books will reveal more about this overall lack of privacy and its meaning for Keane’s goals.

Mind Games, with its stream of consciousness narrative and lack of obviousness in the threats and main story arc, is a refreshing break from the young adult/ paranormal/ love triangle trope. Fia is not a girl looking for love or for a man to help her. She is more than capable of taking care of her sister and herself. The Keane Institute, with its mild-mannered threats and elusive goal, is a formidable opponent. It is obvious that the clash between the two in this first novel is only the beginning of a greater battle to come, heightening one’s anticipation of future Mind Games novels.
  jmchshannon | Dec 11, 2013 |
I don't think I had a negative critical thought while reading this book. I was that engaged and excited. I just wanted to keep reading, with all Fia's feral, crazy, furious, vulnerable thoughts buzzing and popping in my head. A few hours after I finished this, I realized I have to go back and read this again and try to have some critical thoughts of some kind, because what the hell, I'm not even sure this had a lot of plot (a lot of it seems like setup of characters and paranormal powers and backstories for the next book -- there is a next book, right?). There's just so much forward momentum to this, such rapid pacing, and Fia especially as a character felt like driving around a fast curve and being just shy of out of control.

So, yeah. Fia is who Juliette from Shatter Me was supposed to be, done right. More to come once I've actually read this again. ( )
  Crowinator | Sep 23, 2013 |
The ratings system is inherently flawed in relation to book reviews. I tend to use the 1 star review solely for books that offended me, particularly in their romanticised depiction of rape culture, abusive relationships, women shaming, etc. I seldom, if ever, give a book 1 star because it was just awful as a piece of literature. I read somewhere that the author Kiersten White finished the first draft of this book in nine days. I don’t believe that. Nine days is far longer than my original prediction of a weekend. This book read like a NaNoWriMo novel written in the final two days because the author forgot about it. It’s been a long time since I read a book as painfully rushed, sloppy and lazy as “Mind Games” (known as “Sister Assassin” in UK).

The biggest failure of this book is the narration. Switching between the two sisters who are entirely matching in almost every way, White has chosen a stream-of-consciousness first person style to tell this story. Stream-of-consciousness was a particular favourite of the Modernist movement, and utilised to great effect by writers such as Virginia Woolf and James Joyce (if you’ve actually finished “Ulysses” then you’re a better person than I am). It’s tough to read even when it’s executed perfectly. Here it’s practically unbearable. Not only are the sisters’ narrations impossible to differentiate from, the constant repetition of words and phrases, coupled with the lazy and juvenile nature of the prose made the experience of reading this book seem far longer than its slim page numbers would suggest. The non-linear narrative feels like such a slog, and does nothing but make the story entirely incoherent. Any possibility of the book livening up with some action is quickly ruined by this unreadable style.

None of this is helped by the fact that both sisters are motivated by pretty much the same things, make completely irrational decisions that don’t fit with what the other cut-out characters tell us about them, and are both extremely annoying. I didn’t want to spend this book with them. Then again, it’s not as if the supporting cast offer up much either. Scooby Doo offered up stronger motivation and characterisation than this book does. However, I must briefly draw attention to one character called James (which I had to look up for this review because I have honestly forgotten everyone’s names except for the sisters), who plies an underage girl with alcohol to get her to talk. Of course, James is the dark, sexy and dangerous one who we are supposed to root for the woman he plies with alcohol to get together with. He also delightfully manipulates a young woman who struggles with her ability to feel everyone else’s emotions into believing he cares for her because that makes her easier to deal with. Not that the alcohol plied sister Fia really cares about the well-being of this young woman. She doesn’t care about anyone besides herself, regardless of her constant whining over looking after her blind sister. I’d be angrier at this mess if I in any way cared about Fia or Annie as characters.

The powers that the sisters have could be interesting if executed well, but instead they’re just there. They serve bare plot purposes in the most serviceable manner possible and are barely explained or expanded upon. In the end, everything that went on felt entirely inconsequential because I just didn’t care about anything (although I did wonder why any stereotypical evil organisation would use a woman with perfect instincts to kill people instead of just having her make them billions and screw around with democracy).

The style of the book and the childish approach to storytelling and prose just dragged me out of the experience. I can live with an unoriginal plot structure, which this book has in spades, if the execution is interesting, or interesting questions are asked, or if the characters and dialogue bring it to life. This book has none of that. I spent much more time thinking about why White was in such a hurry to push this book out than I did thinking about the book itself. “Mind Games” is bafflingly bad. I cannot understand how a relatively well acclaimed New York Times best-selling author can fail so badly with this book, although some blame must also go to the editor and agent for rushing this out so quickly as if publishing it was a race against time. I see that this book is the first in a duology, which makes me shudder, in all honesty. “Mind Games” was a waste of my time, a waste of the publisher’s time, and just a mess in every conceivable way.

( )
  Ceilidhann | Sep 20, 2013 |
I love Mind Games!

It was action-packed from start to end. I read it in one sitting, never wanting to put the book down until I finish it. I liked Fia and I like the author's writing style. I will definitely get the next book! ( )
  anneconsolacion | Sep 16, 2013 |
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"Seventeen-year-old Fia and her sister, Annie, are trapped in a school that uses young female psychics and mind readers as tools for corporate espionage--and if Fia doesn't play by the rules of their deadly game, Annie will be killed"--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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