First off I need to say a massive thank you to Orchard Books for approving my request to review this book from NetGalley, and to NetGalley for the service that they provide.
Teri Terry is one of the main reasons that I decided to start book blogging. When she visited my school last March, I was talking to her before she spoke and she told me that if I loved reading then I should definitely consider starting a book blog – and a little over four months later, Everything Alyce was born! I’d never experienced the world of book blogging before that talk (I didn’t realise it was such a popular pastime, or how much fun I’d have doing it) and I haven’t looked back since.
So as I’m sure you can imagine, I was beyond excited when I spotted Teri Terry’s new novel on NetGalley, and I was cheering with excitement when my request was accepted.
‘Mind Games’ is a standalone novel following the story of Luna, a teenage girl who lives in a world where technology permeates every aspect of every day life. Sounds quite a lot like the world we live in now, doesn’t it? Yes, but it’s a much more extreme version. Children from a very young age are being fitted with Implants, which mean that they can access any information that they want wherever they are, as well as virtually hanging out with their friends to play games etc. However, Luna is a Refuser, meaning that she doesn’t have an Implant and is one of the odd ones out – she receives a normal school education, much to the chagrin of her headteacher, and she is constantly threatened with failure in later life if she doesn’t concede and get an Implant.
However, this all changes when Luna receives a Test Appointment. Test Appointments are highly coveted invitations that will almost guarantee a successful future for the participant, as long as they prove that they have a high IQ and a high RQ – being both intelligent and rational. Luna is terrified of taking part in the test, because her mother was ‘cleverstupid’, both intelligent and highly irrational, and Luna is certain that if she gets found to be irrational her life will be in danger…
‘Mind Games’ is one of these novels when you’re not really quite sure what is going on. It seems as though the entire plot will revolve around Luna taking the intelligence and rationality tests and then dealing with her results, but after her results come through the direction of the story changes dramatically, making it almost impossible to predict where it’s going to go. This means that you do need a lot of patience with this novel – if you’re someone who likes knowing where something is going, this probably isn’t the book for you.
I did really enjoy the novel though. A lot goes on in the latter part of the novel that I’m not going to go into too much for risk of giving away spoilers, but you need to know that this is not a happy, fluffy novel – this is one of the most hard-hitting dystopian novels I’ve read in a very long time. I’ve heard a lot of comparisons to ‘Divergent’, probably because of the corrupt government that needs to be overthrown, but ‘Divergent’ is a walk in the park compared to some of the emotional hurdles that Luna needs to overcome.
This novel is also a great social commentary: is our reliance upon technology eventually going to become this damaging? In the earlier part of the novel we encounter quite a few Implant addicts, who are people who have used their Implant so frequently that they can’t drag themselves away from it, meaning that their bodies are slowly but surely deteriorating. With so many people unable to drag themselves away from their phones for just hours at a time, this futuristic reality is terrifyingly close to becoming our reality, and it’s definitely made me rethink how much time I spend with all of my devices. I was glad that I read this at the start of a week away on holiday, because it made me feel grateful for the forced separation from my laptop, instead of restless and yearning.
You do need to be patient with this book if you read it, because it does take a while to get into things and there is a lot of development which gets quickly unwound, meaning that for a little under half of the novel it feels as though it’s repeating multiple aspects of the first half, but the concept is very cleverly played out. I very much enjoyed this novel, and I can’t wait to see what Teri Terry does next.