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Mind Games Hardcover – February 19, 2013
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Gayle Forman is an award winning journalist and author who shares a passionate interest in the fictional depiction of truly amazing kisses with another critically acclaimed author, Stephanie Perkins. Though both women have made their names writing swoony boy companions to intriguing, dynamic female leads, they understand the power--and problems--of breaking out with something new. They recently sat down for a chat about Kiersten White's storytelling shift with MIND GAMES.
Gayle: I love Kiersten’s new novel, Mind Games, but I have to admit, it was a bit of a surprise for me. Paranormalcy had been so fizzy and fun, almost winking at the genre. Then Kiersten turned out this edgy, psychological thriller. I know you’ve known her a while, so were you surprised?
Stephanie: Not a bit! We’ve been critique partners since 2009, and the first thing I ever read by her, which was before Paranormalcy, was dark and psychological. And her second novel was a continuation of that world. Those books didn’t pan out, but years later she took their best parts and turned them into this single complex crazy thriller. For me, it was less surprise than pride: this idea she’d had for so long came to life in such a spectacular way. She wrote it in nine days.
Gayle: Nine days!! I find that rather insane. Which is to say, I'm extremely envious.
Stephanie: Seriously. When you think about the layering of this plot, two narrators and four timelines, it’s amazing. And the final version isn’t that different from her first draft.
Gayle: I think every writer gets one easy book. For me, If I Stay was that book. It came out effortlessly, and the draft I showed to an agent was not significantly different from the final book. But every book since then has been a much more difficult process, months, if not years. And even with If I Stay, it was three months, not nine days.
Stephanie: Although to say it was nine days is also misleading. First, it took four years of percolating. And then there were the revisions.
Gayle: I get that. People used to ask me how long If I Stay took to write and I’d say, three months—pause—and seven years. That was the percolating part. I believe you know something about that with Lola And The Boy Next Door.
Stephanie: Yeah, I worked on it for a full decade. But I never wrote a draft in nine days. Or three months.
Gayle: But it’s not an anomaly for Kiersten. She’s amazingly fast, and therefore prolific. She has the Paranormalcy trilogy, Mind Games and its sequel and The Chaos of Stars later this year, and even more brewing. And she has kids! How does she do it?
Stephanie: She’s like one of her characters in Mind Games, because she has this ability that the rest of us don’t have. Her brain works at four times the regular speed. I’m a slow writer. I’ll sit on a problem for weeks, wrestling with it, stuck in the same spot. And then Kiersten and I will talk for forty minutes--forty minutes of me moaning and rambling--and the moment I stop, she’ll say: “Well, what about this?” She usually nails the solution on the first try.
Gayle: One of the things that impressed me about Mind Games was how edgy it feels, but how Kiersten uses none of the obvious tricks: No sex, no swearing, no drugs. And yet she accomplished a real dark, moody sexy, dangerous-feeling book.
Stephanie: I know, right? It shows that if you’re a good writer, you can accomplish those same things in atmosphere, in tension. This book is really sexy without any actual sex.
Gayle: As someone who puts sex and language in my books, I tip my hat to Kiersten for accomplishing all that while keeping it clean. It’s a real testament to her writing skills. And I loved the conflict of Fia, the “gifted” sister forced into this dark world she didn’t want to be in. It reminded me a bit of La Femme Nikita, a movie and TV show I loved.
Stephanie: While reading, I felt such a genuine concern for both girls. But I worried the most for Annie. Fia’s part is so well written that I really, really felt that fear and urgency and need to protect her sister.
Gayle: And she wrote Annie, the blind sister, so believably.
Stephanie: Yes, and it takes skill to write a character who doesn’t rely on visual cues, the bread and butter for most authors. You’re great at that, too--the smells and touches and sounds. I felt as if I could TASTE how delicious Willem was in Just One Day!.
Gayle: Ha! Thanks. Speaking of delicious boys, you’ve made your mark with your soon-to-be three smart romances, Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After. But your next project is a horror novel! Kiersten has gone from these lighthearted, almost cheeky, paranormal romances to this much darker, psychological thriller. Do you guys ever talk about these sharp departures and how your readers might react?
Stephanie: Neither of us wants to be a one-trick pony. We have so many different types of stories inside of us. I think a lot of authors get pigeonholed as writing one type of novel, being one type of author. But as someone’s friend, you know they’re so much more than that. So we do talk about the departures, but we’re optimistic. We write for ourselves first, and we just have to hope that some of our readers will follow. So, back to your first question, it makes me incredibly happy to see this confident, twisted, cool book come out of Kiersten.
From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Fia, 17, has unerringly good instincts, but sometimes they are not good enough. They didn't prevent her parents from dying in a car crash when she was a child. They didn't keep her and her sister, Annie, out of a school administered by the sinister Keane Foundation, which has more than educational interests at its core. And they have not gotten the girls out of the hands of the organization that is now exploiting Annie's psychic abilities and training Fia to be the perfect assassin. When Fia is sent to kill a young man named Adam, her senses tell her that his death is the wrong outcome, but if she defies her employers, the consequences could be dire. Adam is linked to a group that could be major opposition for the foundation. Fia wants nothing more than to see Keane ruined-as long as the consequences of its downfall do not include Annie's death, or her own. This gripping, intense story is told from alternating perspectives, flashing back to key moments in the siblings' pasts. The plot moves quickly from the start, throwing readers right into the story. While some background is provided later in the book, full explanations of the nature of the Keane Foundation remain elusive. This book is sure to be popular with teens who enjoy fast-paced thrillers with paranormal elements.-Misti Tidman, Licking County Library, Newark, OHα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Top customer reviews
I'm not always a fan of alternating POV with each chapter, often because the different voices sound too similar so you can't easily tell who it is - definitely not the case in Mind Games. Each sister had a very unique voice, and I actually loved Fia's stream of consciousness, though I can understand some people could find it annoying. I believe it was a perfect way to exemplify her ability - not thinking ahead, simply reacting, a glimpse of her raw power and why she behaves in certain ways. In comparison, Annie, who being blind and a Seer is mostly stuck in her thoughts, was much calmer and planned ahead. Both sisters were interesting, and both flawed which makes for good characters. Most of the side characters were not very fleshed out though, very one-dimensional.
The plot was fairly predictable, with a couple small twists. The chapters alternated between each sister as well and the present and past. Often chapter flashbacks like that can be irritating, distracting from the current events. In this story, it really worked. Just like each sister could only see part of what was going on, and each new event made their visions or decisions clearer, so the flashbacks worked for the reader. The flashbacks slowly revealed how each sister, especially Fia, got to where she did, and explained their behaviors. I enjoyed both past and present thoroughly.
Also, to note, no spelling issues. Yay! (Some grammar oddities were on purpose for Fia's stream of consciousness narration.)
When they have been in school for a while, Annie, too realizes this is not a good place to be, especially when Fia has to start training in ways neither of them can completely comprehend. One day when their class is on a field trip, Fia is told to leave a little package in a woman’s bag and then leave. Mind Games ups the ante from there on, as the package contains a bomb, and Fia understands that she is a part of something very ominous.
Mind Games continues with Fia wanting to escape, but because she has been sent to kill a young man, everything has to be put on hold. She also doesn’t want to leave her sister behind, but she finds she is unable to kill Adam, and thinks that everything will be lost. She has to continue her life with her no planning policy, so that the mind readers and the future seers cannot see what she is up to, ever. And to save her sister, she is willing to go very far.
Never knowing whom they can trust, Annie and Fia can rely only on each other. Mind Games depicts a complicated world, with a very mean man in power of the school where children with different talents end up to further his very personal agenda for more power, more money, and more children. The writing is mostly in Fia’s point of view, both in the present and in the past, and she is a very intricate character to follow. We also get some parts from Annie’s point of view, and this is when we realize how much guilt she is dealing with for getting Fia into this school she thought would save them both – when in reality they are only pawns in Keane’s game.
If you enjoy paranormal with a dystopian twist, you should pick up Mind Games and delve into this dark world where the adults have no qualms at using children and teenagers to have power, and keep their own family and loved ones safe.
The whole premise was very creative and I thought well executed. I've read some books that had individuals who could see the future, read the cards, or dream events, but never a story like this one. The opening scene immediately drew me in and basically from that point forward I was hooked. It was definitely intense and I just never knew when all the cards were going to fall down.
I really liked the characters. Annie did annoy me at some points because I just wanted her to open her eyes and notice what was going on. To me she felt so selfish in the beginning, but she was still a great character and I could see why she acted as she did. Fia is amazing! She was so young when they were taken in by the "school," yet she survived and turned out to be very smart and fierce. I really felt for her situation and her desire to protect her sister at all costs. Then there are the two men in Fia's life. I liked each in their own ways, but one of them I don't know if Fia can really trust.
This book really upset me in parts! Poor Fia is so abused and does some really tough things that eat away at her that she didn't even know she was doing or meant to do. I mean how could the head of the "school" abuse children like this and how could some of these people not see how wrong things were when they grew up. The effects are just terrible. I'm hoping that Fia does some serious damage in the next book.
If you're looking for an intense SciFi with some great characters and writing, I would definitely pick this up.
Content: Some violence and innuendo.