Mind Games by Kiersten White – Advance Review

Mind Games

Book Jacket:

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.

You can read an excerpt here.


Seriously, this I love.

But first, fair warning: if you crack open this read expecting to find another Paranormalcy, well, this is not that book. Bouncy paranormal YA this is not – no, Mind Games is a darker, twistier kind of read, very much a YA thriller. In terms of tone think Bourne, except this story’s central bad-ass happens to be an emotionally damaged teen girl – and that’s not a love interest that she’s ferociously protecting, it’s her blind older sister. And while I always enjoy a good case of nefarious corporate exploitation of gifted teens – and yes, we have all read that story before – what makes this book a standout, and a knockout, is the relationship between the two sisters, Fia and Annie. Like two marionettes whose strings have been hopelessly tangled, these two are inexorably intertwined, and the ways in which White knots and frays their confused tangle of a relationship, oh it’s just freaking great storytelling.

Also, can I just say how happy it made me to read a YA that revolves around a sibling relationship instead of a romantic one? Now before you ask, yes, there is still a deft touch of romance to be found in this book, but all in all this is a story about SISTERS, about the pull and weave of family fabric, about how these two girls love and hate and hurt and need each other. Fia and Annie are both each other’s greatest strength and greatest weakness, in that they’re what each has to fight for, and yet they’re also constantly being used by said nefarious corporation against each other, as a means to control one another. And the ways in which that psychological war of attrition plays out, the damage that happens when the person you love is also the person who is destroying you, it’s just brilliant.

All of which is only further enhanced by the way White nimbly switches back and forth between the two sisters’ POVs. These two girls are very, very different – in how they see their world and each other – and yet we can fully sympathize with both, because we absolutely understand what each is thinking and feeling and going through. And when one hurts the other, we witness the internal fallout on both sides – we feel for the damage done, and yet we can fully understand the reasons why that hurt was inflicted. All in all it makes these two girls very real, and it made me care for them both very much, no matter how wrong they were at any given time. We truly, fully get to see both sides of this story, and it makes this book all the richer.

But lest you start thinking this is a pure lit fic relationship drama – let me assure you, this book is very much a thriller, and a fun one at that. The story has plenty of action, satisfying reveals, and a nice sense of desperation lurking throughout, as the deeper in the girls get, the less and less hope they have of escaping. And as for Annie and Fia’s abilities, I really liked how specific they were; how they weren’t full-blown magic powers but instead something that’s not too far a stretch from our everyday world – more Bourne Legacy than X-Men.

So in the end, I really did just love this book. It worked for me on every level – the story is sleek, fascinating, and packs an emotional wallop. Now this, this is the good stuff.

Byrt Grade: A

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

The Hiding Spot says:

The atmosphere of this novel…is reminiscent of the characters and plot of shows like Alias and Nikita, which I think has a lot to do with why I liked Mind Games as much as I did. So many of the characters are more than they seem, hiding something, or have the potential to give into the power they yield and use it for evil rather than good.

Publishers Weekly says:

Two narrators, a kaleidoscope of time snippets, the distortions of lies, memories, and precognition- White’s paranormal thriller is a tour de force of perspective and unreliability