Author: Kiersten White
Genre: YA, Paranormal Dystopia, Mystery, Thriller
Publication Date: February 19, 2013 (HarperTeen – North America)
Source: Edelweiss Review Copy
Summary: Fia was born with flawless instincts. Her first impulse, her gut feeling, is always exactly right. Her sister, Annie, is blind to the world around her—except when her mind is gripped by strange visions of the future.
Trapped in a school that uses girls with extraordinary powers as tools for corporate espionage, Annie and Fia are forced to choose over and over between using their abilities in twisted, unthinkable ways… or risking each other’s lives by refusing to obey.
☆: 4/5 stars – a great new series that’s gorgeous in its action and emotion!
Review: I’m liking this series far more than the “Paranormalcy” series, and that’s saying a lot (I liked that one quite a bit too). “Mind Games” (or if you’re in the UK, “Sister Assassin”) is chock full of action, emotion, chills, spills, and thrills. So much so that by the time you reach the last page, you’re sorry that it’s over and you have to wait for a new installment. While “Mind Games” reads like a standalone, it’s also the first in an exciting new series – one where I feel I can safely expect a lot from White, because she certainly delivered in this first volume.
Where to start? I feel like White grew a lot between the end of the “Paranormalcy” series and the start of this one in pretty much every technical area. Even weighing in at less than 300 pages, this first book really packs an emotional wallop – one you’ll definitely continue to feel for days afterward. The only area that I felt was lacking a bit was the sensory imagery and language – I feel like that could have been punched up a whole lot more than it was, and that’s what lowered this from a higher rating. Otherwise, the technical areas were more or less flawless, and I really liked the very creative way White decided to organize her book, her characters, and her world.
What amazed me the most is how easily White established the world in such a short space of time and words – as if she were challenging herself to make a world in as few words and time as possible. And she did it – absolutely nailed it with a few tense words describing the Keane school and the Lerner institution. Really, it was the choice of words that did it, along with the voices of Fia and Annie and how very different they are when they narrate. The world is simply built, but we also get the feeling that it’s extremely complex, full of secrets and lies and it’s very difficult to distinguish between the two. Who can we trust? Who can’t we trust? Can we trust our narrators at all? White hints at the unreliable narrator trope, but doesn’t take it too far. I just like that she introduced it anyway, and that extremely perminating sense of paranoia that lingered the entire way through the novel.
The characters. While I feel like James and Adam could have been a bit more developed, I loved Annie and Fia. I loved how different they were, how twisted they became (in different ways). I loved how Fia wasn’t trying to be a hero – she was trying to accept herself as this monstrous thing she’d become, that Keane had made her become out of necessity to protect Annie. When you have a loved one in the hands of someone that’s not awesome, you’ll do anything to protect them, and White doesn’t withhold anything ugly that Fia might have done in order to protect Annie. I loved that, and I loved the risk she took with creating such an ugly MC. It was a good risk and I’m glad she took it because the emotional payoff was HUGE. She tortured and killed her darlings repeatedly, and by the end, I didn’t want to let these two go.
And finally, the way the plot arcs were arranged. I like that we weren’t fixed in one place in time – we went all over the place. Current day, two months ago, a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago, we went everywhere through the eyes of Fia and Annie and saw what they saw. I love it when authors can surprise me with how they use their narration to shape their plot arcs, and White did that here. While I can’t say I didn’t see the final pages coming, I can say that the way that they did finally arrive were still a surprise, still full of feeling, and absolutely explosive.
Final verdict? If you want something new to read that’s short and awesome, give “Mind Games” a try. It’s definitely one of the best of 2013 so far, and I can’t wait for volume 2. “Mind Games” is out from HarperTeen in North America on February 19, 2013, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!