Book Reviews

Mind Games by Kiersten White | Book Review

Mind Games by Kiersten White. Mind Games, #1.

My copy: HarperTeen (Harper Collins Publishing), December 2013. Hardcover, 237 pages.

Source: Library.



Fia and Annie are as close as two sisters can be. They look out for each other. Protect each other. And most importantly, they keep each other’s secrets, even the most dangerous ones: Annie is blind, but can see visions of the future; Fia was born with flawless intuition—her first impulse is always exactly right.

When the sisters are offered a place at an elite boarding school, Fia realizes that something is wrong . . . but she doesn’t grasp just how wrong. The Keane Institute is no ordinary school, and Fia is soon used for everything from picking stocks to planting bombs. If she tries to refuse, they threaten her with Annie’s life.

Now Fia’s falling in love with a boy who has dark secrets of his own. And with his help, she’s ready to fight back. They stole her past. They control her present. But she won’t let them take her future.

Mind Games is an easy-to-fly-through “powers” novel about two sisters who each have a very special ability: Annie (Annabelle) can see the future and Fia’s (Sofia) first gut instinct is always correct. The Rosen sisters are members of a questionable “school” for other psychics. It is a school, run by Mr. Keane and his son James, that uses the students to conduct corporate espionage. Each sister wants to protect the other but as long as they play the game to keep the other safe, they will never be free of those who control them.

This book, while engaging, is very frustrating. Half the book is flashbacks. So basically, of the 237 pages, roughly 100 actually are the real plot, which spans only a couple days (and which is set in an indeterminate present or future). Nothing really really happens until the very end (and it is quite an ending, let me tell you!), and I guess you could also say the very beginning. The story is told in dual perspective, from both Fia and Annie.

I started out liking Fia because she opens the book literally kicking-ass, saving this mysterious boy named Adam Denting from being assassinated. We find out that Fia lets Mr. Keane and the school force her to do their dirty work, which she goes along with because otherwise they will “dispose” of Annie. Annie’s chapters started out pretty weak for me, but she grew on me as the book went on, though she never really did anything. (Interesting fact: she’s actually blind). Fia, though, whoa — she’s a mess. All the killing she had been forced to do really messed with her head and I found myself cringing whenever she was narrating things. I really disliked Fia; she was a bit too-far-gone for me, and made the most stupid decisions knowing they were stupid decisions. I wanted to smack her sometimes.

The sisters have very different voices, which I was glad to discover, but even so, it was jarring to have to read the header of every new chapter just to find out if it was a flashback or not. I normally don’t read chapter titles — my eyes just immediately go from the last sentence of the previous chapter to the first sentence of the next chapter. That way I never leave the story, even just for two seconds, but I found Mind Games irritating with the constant flashbacks that, while did offer some back story, honestly weren’t very fascinating, and got so repetitive. I wanted more back story and world building. Fleshing out the Mind Games world could have made things a lot more interesting. Why the heck are the Keanes so intent on controlling psychics? What is the back story and what are the motives of the supporting characters? There were a lot of aspects that could have been touched on more, and maybe that will happen in the sequel, Perfect Lies.

Then there were the two boys: James and Adam. Whatever romance is going on between them and Fia, I don’t really care about. The romance was not the focus of the book and was very weak, and I found Fia’s relationships with these guys very two-dimensional. Love triangle? Gosh, I hope not. The boys were boring. I’m honestly not sure what to make of them, since we learned so little of their characters. The other characters aren’t much more interesting: Annie’s best friend, Eden, is kind of a loser, sorry to say, and there was the most random guy named Rafael who I think was thrown in just so Fia could have a reason to act stupid.

I know it sounds like I didn’t like Mind Games, but overall it was a book I did enjoy, for the most part, during the couple hours it took me to whiz through it. It had flaws, many, but was compelling enough for me to stick with. I disliked the characters and the flashbacks and the lack of back story and world building, but I have a feeling the sequel will improve upon these aspects. Mind Games is something I had heard mixed things about going into, and I agree that it wasn’t perfect, but I still think it’s a good story, and an interesting setup. It was good enough. ♦

Have you read Mind Games?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
What’s a good espionage book you’ve read?
Or, what’s the last book you read about kids with supernatural powers?
Comment below letting me know!

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