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Book Review: Mind Games by Kiersten White

Two sisters, bound by impossible choices, are determined to protect each other—no matter the cost.

James’s frozen face melts into a smile. “Do you want to know the trick to getting in trouble under the watchful eye of a psychic?”

I think of the nailed-shut windows. I think of Clarice. I think of the two, the two, the two who are now zero. Tap tap. “Yes, I absolutely do.”

“Don’t plan it. Don’t even think about it. The second you get an inkling of what you could do, do it then. Never plan anything ahead of time. Always go on pure instinct.”

I smile. “I think I can do that.” – Mind Games, Kiersten White (synopsis from Goodreads)

Having just read Dualed, and any other number of books with teenage assasins, I was a little skeptical going into Mind Games, a little weary of this polot point you could say.  But this book is so very good and I could not put it down.

Fia, short for Sophia, knows when things aren’t right.  She feels it in her gut, quite literally.  In fact, she takes the concept of instinct to a whole new level, and hers are never wrong.  She has sworn to protect her sister, Annie, who is a Seer.  Annie is blind, but sometimes gets visions of the near future.  There are a lot of people who would do anything to have Annie’s power, but Fia has a power they have never seen before.

Fia and her sister, Annie, have been manipulated into joining an “academy” who recruits girls that have special powers, and only girls seem to have them, and then exploits those powers to their benefit.  They are not the only players in town, however.  And it is hard to know who is doing what: is there a good team, are there good guys?  Thus the mind games.

Mind Games has everything you would want in a thriller.  Fia is a feisty, twisted young lady, pushed to the brink by a shady organization that wants to bring her so far in she can never escape.  This is an interesting character, bound by a loyalty she often resents, she is not always nice to this sister that she loves.  In fact, she often spirals into a despair so dark that the “readers” around her get nauseous migraines.  In this world where it is hard to keep secrets, Fia has quite a few.

Mind Games switches between past and present and between the two girls.  It is really important that you read the chapter headings so you know whose head you are in and when.  This to me was the only real cumbersome aspect of the story, but once I figured it out, I made sure and paid attention.  Of the various novels of this sort that I have read recently, and it really does seem to be a trend right now, Mind Games seemed ahead of the pack in pacing and characters. Even the bad guys – if they are indeed bad guys – were interesting and I wanted some them to turn out to be good guys.  I really enjoyed Fia and am definitely rooting for her, I love the intelligence she possesses and how even though she is flawed – deeply, deeply flawed after years of abuse and manipulation – she begins to understand the situation she is in and attempts to take control.

Annie I am less enamored with, she tends towards selfishness and doesn’t put the pieces together as easily as Fia, but she has her moments.  And the relationship between the two is definitely interesting; they both seem bound by a strong sense of loyalty, but they struggle between a sense of self-preservation and this commitment they have made towards each other.  It is by no means a healthy sibling relationship, but these are by no means healthy individuals either.

If White keeps up the tension, pacing, intrigue and characterization, this should be a hit.  Mind Games is all about, well, the mind games.  There is no strong sense of world building – when does this take place, what does this world look like, how rare are these various seers, readers, feelers?  But the psychological elements of this are truly fascinating. 4 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended.

More teenage assassins: Nobody by Jennifery Lynn Barnes,  Dualed by Elsie Chapman

Mind Games by Kiersten White.  Published by HarperTeen, March 2013. ISBN: 978-0-06-213531-5