Review: Mind Games by Kiersten White

Mind Games
Kiersten White
Series: Mind Games, #1
Release Date: February 19th, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Number of Pages: 256
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: 2 stars

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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.
A few months ago I had attempted to read my copy of Paranormalcy, which had been collecting dust on my bookshelf for quite a few months. In the mood for a light, funny read, Paranormalcy sounded like it'd be perfect, and, even better, it came highly recommended to me by multiple trusted friends of mine.

I think I may have lasted about one hundred pages before I threw in the towel and abandoned the book. From what I had read, Paranormalcy was pretty much the book I was looking for to a T, conceptually - it was light, slightly funny (though I have the sense of humor that will inevitably have me burning in hell, so it wasn't exactly my taste of humor), and interesting enough. But the two things that kept me from having any desire to continue reading Paranormalcy was the extremely amateur and juvenile writing and poor characterization.

However, when I heard that White had a new novel released in 2013 that was apparently much darker than Paranormalcy, I was pretty excited, figuring that, over the three years since Paranormalcy was published, White would have a much stronger writing style and characterization skills than in her debut.

I am proven wrong. I think it's safe to say that, over time, authors grow more and more stronger writing style wise, but I think that, over time, White's writing style may have regressed in quality. In Paranormalcy, as much as the writing was excruciatingly difficult for me to plow through, what with the bleeping censoring and overall feeling that it was written by a teenager, it fit well with the fluffy and lightness that ran rampant throughout the novel. Mind Games, however, is much darker when compared to Paranormalcy, and yet the juvenile and immature writing is still there, and it is even more glaring in here than ever because it feels off with the general plot.

Mind Games is told from the point of views of two sisters - Annie and Fia. One of the things I was most looking forward to in Mind Games was the "strong and unbreakable sisterly bond" between Annie and Fia, but the most background we got on their relationship is that Annie will do anything for Fia, and Fia will do anything for Annie. But the thing is we're told that they will do anything for each other, yet we get too few actual examples that their relationship never lived up to the promise of a strong and unbreakable sisterly bond.

And as for the characterization of Annie and Fia, it's pretty much the same exact thing; all we really know about either of them is that they have a strong love for each other, and even with that we're strictly told that and not shown it. Kiersten White could have gone so far with the concept of having a main character who is blind and is only capable of seeing in the future, yet all of the potential with the character of Annie falls flat on its face. And the character of Fia is no better, if not much, much worse. Throughout the entirety of Mind Games, Fia was met with little to no character growth whatsoever - she starts out as a whiny, selfish, and thoroughly unintelligent character, and ends up as a whiny, selfish, and thoroughly unintelligent character. As well as that, it's hard to take a character who is an assassin seriously when she decides not to kill a target because he saved a puppy. And also, don't be fooled by the promise of assassins or the UK edition's name, Sister Assassins; this book is about assassins in the same way that Avatar is about blue people who have sex with their ponytails - the general concept is in there, somewhere, but it sure as hell isn't the main focus.

And, back to the writing, I understand what White was trying to do with Fia's perspective by making the chapters told by her point of view disjointed and incoherent (and that's pretty much what the entire novel is like, too) to emphasize her mental stability - or lack thereof, but it really added nothing to the story and only detracted from my enjoyment, and the repetition was incredibly irritating.

Told in mostly scattered, unnecessary and confusing flashbacks, Mind Games is a book that clearly began with good intentions but ultimately only ended up being a failure of good intentions, and the sad part is that it could have ended up as a truly great book, if placed in the hands of a more capable author. The plot is strong, and at times entertaining, but as a whole the disjointedness of everything made Mind Games much more of a miss than a hit. Those who are fans of White's Paranormalcy trilogy may find themselves enjoying Mind Games more than I enjoyed it as they are clearly fans of the author's writing style, but at the same time they might find themselves completely and utterly disappointed considering the fact that, in scope, Mind Games is a much more darker (well, as dark as a book chocked full of Justin Bieber references can be) read than Paranormalcy. And while I did really like the ending, and more importantly was completely surprised by the direction it took and appreciated the overall ballsiness White had to write the final two chapters, I highly doubt I'll be back to read more of the Mind Games trilogy, or really any of Kiersten White's books, for that matter.


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