Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: Mind Games by Kiersten White

Release Date: February 19, 2012
(Thanks to ATWT for allowing me to participate on this tour!)
Published by: HarperTeen

Mind Games by Kiersten White

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.

In a stunning departure from her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy, Kiersten White delivers a slick, edgy, heartstoppingly intense psychological thriller about two sisters determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.


Ten Likes/Dislikes:

1. (+) Fia, the protagonist - I am always drawn to broken characters, and Fia believes herself to be irreparably broken. Where other characters might fixate on that and mope, Fia is almost manic, wanting to lose herself in music, in other people. She's dangerous but vulnerable. She's protective and strong. She's manipulative and cunning. You might think of her as a femme fatale type, but she's also a teenager so that's turned down, and not quite as accurate, I think. She's beautiful and confident and is trying her hardest to find what's right - which, for Fia, can mean a variety of things. Is her instinct telling her it's right? Does she know it's right? etc.
2. (--) Annie, the protagonist - Okay, so I wanted to like Annie, but Fia stole the show. Whenever I reached an Annie chapter, I was irritated. I didn't want to read from her perspective after a while because Fia's always interested me more. After the book ended and I was sufficiently out of the thriller haze, I asked myself why Annie's perspective hadn't captured my attention. And that's it. Her personality is so quiet, I honestly am not sure how I would describe Annie. Naive, for sure. And yes, she's both physically and figuratively blind to what's in front of her. And yes, she too is protective of her sister.  And more selfish than Fia. She has good intentions... but she doesn't get to do much. As a result, I'm not sure I really got to know Annie. (She is kind of defined in relation to Fia--even her power is like that.) I am hoping that there will be more opportunities in the sequel.
3. (+) World-building - Pretty superb. Kiersten White doesn't take the time to slow down and give you info-dumps as to how everything works. She trusts her readers to follow along as we find out along with the girls what the school is truly like, how the other powers function/what other powers there are, and how powerful they themselves are. What does having perfect instinct mean? What would Fia do if she didn't get that gut feeling of wrongness? How does the school utilize her power and how has she been trapped? etc.
4. (+/-) Sisterly Relationship - We're not given enough to understand what formed this intense relationship between Fia and Annie. We're told that they love each other, and will risk anything for each other. Which, for me, was okay for the most part; I'm game to go with that foundation... But given that there's betrayal involved and the consequences of their relationship are so heavy, it's questionable why Fia and Annie love each other so much. There are attempts at the beginning and end to show this, but their placement and length didn't feel substantial enough to convince me.
5. (+) Romance - This is a book mainly about two sisters, but there is also a bit of romance for Fia, and it's broken, and twisted, but also so right for her character. I think there's a lot more to her romantic interest than meets the eye, and I was grateful to Kiersten White for giving us glimpses of that. I am definitely looking forward to more of that.
6. (+/-) Inciting Incident - Here's what confused me. For a girl who has risked so much for her sister, why would Fia stop because of a dog? (I don't think it's too much of a spoiler for me to say that, considering it's the first sentence of the first chapter.) There is a brief mention of a dog later, but I still wasn't convinced that it changed everything. Fia obviously does not want to murder people. If it was just that, then I think I wouldn't have had issues. But there are attempts to distinguish Adam and this one assignment from all the others that didn't feel completely right or developed. (I kind of wish the whole book was a bit longer for that reason.)
7. (+) Plot - I think that Kiersten White pulled off the colinear plot lines (alternating POVs + alternating timelines). I think it worked for me because I put aside the timeline and went with the memories as they came, just trusting that there was a reason for that memory then and there. I stepped back and let the pieces fall where they were. If you think too much about it, I think that you'll be frustrated, because it's a thriller, and getting into the experience is one of the most important parts. Also, lots of sub-plots. Lots of things are still unresolved and I can't wait to find out more in the sequel. It felt very deliberate, everything that was held back. The plot, in general, is very well described by "Mind Games."
8. (+) Writing - This is the kind of writing that (I predict) will either be a hit or a miss for you. Although the POVs are both stream of consciousness oriented, they are distinguished by a few quirks. Fia's has a more manic vibe to it - shorter sentences, repetition of some words (i.e. she is constantly tap tap tapping to accentuate her anxiety), and a lot of parenthetical observations. Annie's a bit more stable, but there's still that punch in her perspective (i.e. there's one sentence to describe this huge thing that Fia does, and you get a description of the aftermath, but nothing of the event itself). If you like having description and narrative, you might be a bit disappointed, because the sentences are brisk, to the point types that are also a bit short, which might irritate people fixated on grammar. They are run-ons. I personally enjoyed it because I think it made Fia seem so manic, and in turn made me feel manic to finish the book, but I understand that others might not have the same experience.
9. (+) Pacing - As I said earlier, if you don't stop and try to place all the memories together - leave that for the author - then the book will stay fast for you and keep you engrossed. In my opinion, the pacing was a job well done.
10. (+) Cover - Fia! I think it's Fia because the tiny reflections are of a girl who can't see. Also because if I remember correctly, Fia had stunning blue eyes. Anyways, I really like that mirror & light/dark effect. Works well for the thriller vibe, and for Fia especially.

Fia is fantastic. It's so fitting that Laini Taylor blurbed about her. I enjoyed this thriller with its broken characters and the gradual reveal of memories and secrets.

Other Reviews:

Leanne's Goodreads review on Annie's personality & another opinion on the writing
Lilian's Goodreads review on the action & multiple sub-plots
Katy's Goodreads review on the general feel of the book

14 comments:

  1. So glad you mostly liked this. I heard some upsetting things and was seriously concerned that this was in my tbr pile, but I have some hope again!

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  2. wow... great review.. ^^
    thanks for info.. :D

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  3. Great review! I really like how you broke it down into what you did and didn't like about the story. And what a great cover!

    My Saturday Situation

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  4. I love this cover. And it seems like a book that makes you think. I love movies and books like that! I think I'll definitely be reading this soon :)

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  5. I am completely obsessed with the cover to this book.

    I really want to read it. Glad you sort of liked it. I am so curious about this book!

    Btw, the UK cover/title freaks me out.

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  6. This looks very interesting. Thanks for breaking down the review and sharing your thoughts. I will add this to my list.

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  7. Really excited about this one I have seen some mixed reviews so far but you make it sound like something I would really like so props! :D

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  8. I can't wait to read this book. I'm really curious about the storyline and its characters . . . sounds exactly what I like to read about. Great review!

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  9. Thanks for the review. I've been looking at this one for awhile now so now I can get an idea about it. :)

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  10. Great Review, I liked your described about character^^ and I want to read Mind Games. thanks for review^^

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  11. I had my issues with this one too, but mostly I really enjoyed it.

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  12. Great review! I am not to sure about this book myself. I like Kiesten White's past books though.

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  13. Yeah, I really like her other books too. Even if you're not sure of this one, her upcoming Isadora book also looks promising.

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