Friday 6 March 2015

Book Review - Mind Games

Mind Games
Author: Teri Terry
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction | Young Adult
Release Date: 5th March 2015
Publishers: Orchard Books
No. Pages: 448
Source: Review Copy - Orchard Books
Luna is a no-hoper with a secret: in a world of illusion, she can see what is real. But can she see the truth before it is too late?

Luna has always been able to exist in virtual and real worlds at the same time, a secret she is warned to keep. She hides her ability by being a Refuser: excluded by choice from the virtual spheres others inhabit. But when she is singled out for testing, she can’t hide any longer.

The safest thing to do would be to fail, to go back to a dead-end life, no future. But Luna is starting to hope for something better, and hope is a dangerous thing..

Mind games had a premise that could have rocketed this book into being my first favourite of the year - virtual realities, creating your own worlds, voids, plugging into games, studying, meeting, socialising, being alive in a non reality, I found it really hit close to home in every way possible, and books that explored possible futures that involve us being much less human and more intrinsically linked to technology really have a way of impressing me, but what let this book was down was the odd turn of events, and it's main character Luna. Had these not happened, you'd be looking at a winner.

First and foremost, I want to talk about the actual premise and the world behind the premise because if you're looking for something very unique, very unexplored and something that could, quite frankly, blow you away, Mind Games has it. Imagine you could sit in a couch, chair, lay in bed, essentially, lounge somewhere, and enter another world, an unconstructed, completely tangible and editable world, all with a single touch, thought or action. You wouldn't have to move, you'd be there in mind, but not body, you would never have to sleep and lose out on hours because you're asleep while you escape into this world. You can play the most extreme of sports, be in war zones, travel to space, sit on the moon, do absolutely anything you wanted, knowing that you will never come to any harm. Imagine that. Tell me that does not open the door to an amazing premise, a world with so much possibility and room to develop and explore. Tell me that doesn't sound, in every way, damn brilliant, because it does. This is the perfect example of a very scary, and very possible future. Awaken by Katie Kacvinksy explored a similar avenue, one that involves technology growing and leaps and bounds, but resting dangerous on the edge of too far, and Mind Games was the book that took this and showed what happens when science does go too far. When people demand more excitement. When people demand more from life, but aren't willing to work for it. When people are no longer people, but puppets for others. Terry's entire world in Mind Games was so good, so dark and dangerous, and yet really insightful and interesting all at the same time, and her nack for this renders me pretty excited to read her other work, the Slated Trilogy. (Talking of which, can I say how absolutely brilliant promoting Slated in Mind Games was? Seriously, Terry, you are a genius!)

It wasn't just the premise and the world that really intrigued me though, it was the mystery behind Luna, it was the people involved and that surrounded her, it was the disloyalty, the lack of trust that was rife throughout the novel - the fear or not knowing who to trust, of not knowing what to do, where to go, who to believe in, who to save, there was so much that happened that was so really really good, however, Mind Games is one of the few occasions where I believe it could have been much better, much easier and much more enjoyable to have it as a duology, the biggest reason being the change in direction Mind Games had part way through. Do not get me wrong, it did create a new angle on Mind Games, but the actual reasons behind it seemed a little.. unclear? I pretty much felt that the following 150+ pages that continued on from this plot direction change were quite boring, sluggish, pointless and really didn't interest me in the slightest - surprising since this was the section that involved getting to know the in's and out's of the world in Mind Games. Having found out so much about the characters already, what they knew, what they were up to, what they wanted to do, who was trustworthy and who wasn't, reading another half of the book knowing these things when Luna didn't was more frustrating than tension building, and just angered me more than anything. If more time had been spent developing the first half into a longer, more interesting single novel and having the plot direction as a cliffhanger, I can put my hand on heart and say - I think I would have enjoyed Mind Games more.

The biggest glaring issue I had with Mind Games though has to be Luna. Her decisions were poorly made the more time she had to think. She seemed to spend most of her time, asking too many internal questions, wandering around aimlessly, and constantly worrying what other people thought of her instead of being steadfast and being how she wanted to be, as she was at the very beginning, spunky and carefree, that's what Luna was from the start. She had an attitude, was clever, was afraid of very little and wasn't ashamed at being different, and frankly, that's one of the features I loved most during the first half, Luna was perfect the main character for this novel. A game of two halves indeed. Once the direction changed, so did Luna, and she became frustrating, insufferable and really lost most of her essence and personality - whether this was Terry's aim, to highlight the plot of the novel, who knows, but whatever it was, it didn't work for me. Gecko's influence of Luna was too, sometimes, a little frustrating, she became very much bothered about and wondering how he felt, what he thought, what she should do for him, rather than think of herself, but I came to quite like the sensitive side between them, even if the whole romance itself took place in a short space of time. Am I pleased with how the romance came to end? Quite yes, it definitely wasn't your usual happy ever after, I enjoyed that Luna' remained influenced, rather than changed by Gecko's presence in her life, it's a nice feature that isn't usually explored. Kudos to Terry.

I cant turn around and say that I loved Mind Games because my issues were too big to ignore - I imagine, even if the novel had played out like I'd have liked, had less predictable plot twists and changes, and had Luna been a little less annoying and a little more relatable, I probably still wouldn't have loved it, but Mind Games world and premise is one of extraordinary proportions and really impressed me. For a standalone dystopian, it was actually really good, and for people who think this premise sounds amazing, I would recommend you read, on the basis that luna may be less annoying for you, but Mind Games has definitely reminded me that sometimes, it's okay to not be plugged into everything. Sometimes, there's a real world to live in.


  1. I'm still glad that you had more luck with this than I had! I WAS SO SO CONFUSED. I agree it was refreshing how Luna wasn't afraid to be different in the beginning...but I really just don't understand what she wanted to achieve. 0_0 Totally disconnected (har har) to this one. It was my first Terry read too and now I'm less enthused for Slated. :(

    1. I WAS SO CONFUSED TOO. I still don't understand what was happening, and I've forgotten an awful lot, BUT, I do want to try Slated, it sounds as though it could be a better book, so, cross fingers? :)

  2. I'm curious about this one but still unsure whether I want to read it, that might be to do with the fact I've seen quite a few mixed reviews. I haven't really seen anyone say that they loved it yet, which puts me off. I'm still looking for a wow me read!!!! I NEED ONE IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW!

    1. Mixed reviews never help, and honestly, I'm thinking this wouldn't be a good one for you, sorry :(


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