Friday, July 6, 2012

Book Review: Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn

One hundred years into the future nearly all human beings have gained the ability to read minds. Our first-person protagonist, Kira, is a “zero”, one of the few people who never gained this ability. Early on the novel is the story of Kira as a social outcast. As a high school teacher I feel the author did an outstanding job capturing the feel of the high school experience. The novel significantly changes gears once Kira discovers that she is not a zero but a mindjacker. We leave the world of high school relationships and enter an even more sinister world of crime, government conspiracy, and intrigue.

Characters: Kira is the first person POV character. She was well-written, likeable, and believable. It is her concern for others that drives the action of the novel. Simon, a manipulative high school classmate was significantly less likable, but a believable character given his abilities. I’ll admit to being less than wholeheartedly convinced of Kira’s feelings for him. Raf, the good-guy third corner in the love triangle is sympathetic character you can’t help but root for.

World building: The world building in Open Minds is terrific. I love the premise of the novel and felt the author did a great job thinking though the implications of a society in which people can read minds. The near-future technology was plausible and I loved the future slang used by the characters. I wasn’t crazy about the explanation for the global origins of  mind-reading, but it certainly wasn’t a novel-breaker.

Engagement/Willing suspension of disbelief: As an adult male reader, I am the target audience for this novel. Kira’s high school challenges were well-written, but were not exactly my normal read. It was the very enjoyable process of discovery that kept me engaged for the first half of the novel. The second half of the novel was an entirely different matter. Fast-paced action and ever increasing stakes had me reading as fast as I could.

Writing/Mechanics: Open Minds is a professionally written novel. I have no criticism whatsoever with the author’s writing, style, or mechanics. I would have enjoyed seeing a longer process of discovery while Kira learned about her abilities. I also thought some of the relationship changes were a tad abrupt. Other than these two small complaints I give the author highest marks for writing.

Impact: I read the novel in two days and hated when I had to put it down. I’m still thinking about the implications of living in a society of mind readers and jackers. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. As an adult reader of sci-fi I give Open Minds four stars. As a YA novel I give Open Minds five stars. Highly recommended.

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