Mind Games - Teri Terry


Genre: YA/Dystopian  
Synopsis: 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...


Well, this was unexpected. Pretty much any novel that promises a futuristic dystopia will catch my interest, but a lot of the YA dystopian novels out there are fairly similar in theme, if not in feel. Mind Games provides a refreshing, thrilling break from, well, anything I've read before in YA, really. If I had to single out one theme upon which the novel hangs, it is that of trustworthiness. It is a mantra recited numerous times throughout the novel - trust no one - and the complexity of the characters reinforcing this theme are an absolute treat. There is no black and white, only people with goals, agendas, lying or telling half-truths, in an attempt to do what they believe in right... right for everyone, or simply right for themselves.

The world in which Mind Games is set is original, clever and captivating. I want to visit the void, I want to be a S'hacker. Hell, I'll settle for being a regular hacker in this world. Rather than focusing on the negative implications of humanity's inevitable slide into the Matrix, lives lived in the virtual reality of this novel are merely the vehicle for a much larger and much more sinister operation. No, no robots. I said this was original, remember? It took me a little while to get into the plot and get a feel for the style of the novel - but by the time the testing started, it had me hook line and sinker. And from there, the pace and action upped incredibly. This is a YA thriller set against against a background of dystopia.

The characters are all either likeable or play their parts of unlikability well - I particularly liked Hex and Gecko (unsurprisingly, they are the two main boys in the novel and are going to reel readers in) - Gecko moreso than Hex - both had their charms and failings, and both took some unexpected turns towards the end, illustrating interesting counterparts to eachothers worldviews. When I hit a specific realisation towards the end (yes, THAT scene), I gasped. Literally. And I stared at the words for a few moments, and then I started to cry. I don't remember the last time a book made me do that. Even the secondary characters - Luna's father, Dr. Rafferty, Crystal - cut distinct personalities with ease.

I have one complaint. Just one. It should have been a duology. Any complaints I have seen by other reviewers have largely revolved around people getting confused, lost, the pace being too fast, not enough being explained. I'd agree with this. While I kept up just fine, and loved it for all that it is - I feel it had so much potential to be padded out into a duology. More character development, a slower pace in parts, longer ending; more immersion in everything that makes this a great novel. But it's okay - I'm honestly just glad it got written at all. A new favourite.

Rating: 5/5

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