Mind Games: A Compellingly Crafted Tale

I will start this review sounding like the slightly-over-the-hill woman that I am. Don’t they write books like Anne of Green Gables anymore? I suppose it would be too tame in this day of dystopian, paranormal fantasies, where children are manipulated at the hands of evil adults. It is, as they say, a different world, perhaps especially for young women.

That being said, I loved Mind Games. From the opening sentences, we are thrown into a fast-paced, well-crafted narrative in which we encounter events in much the same way as the characters, trying to figure out what is really going on, which is the right path, and who can be trusted. And, by the end, we’re still not sure.

What we are sure of is that Fia and Annie are finally taking control of their own lives and making their choices out of their love for themselves and each other, rather than out of anger and fear. Underlying the almost breathless plot is a rich story of two sisters, and as much as I wanted to find out what happened, I forced myself to slow down and understand and savor the relationship between the girls. Their shared guilt over the death of their parents, their moments of enlightenment when they see how their spiritual blindness has led them down wrong paths and their realization that what we think we see is not always what is true: these are the intertwining themes that take Mind Games above the horror and violence and provide the reader with a sense of something greater. We see two young women coming into their own and that’s a great story in itself.

White’s narrative weaves in and out between past and present and between the sisters. The resulting pattern is both intricate and intriguing. While the main story seems to be Fia’s, without Annie’s voice we would not truly understand Fia. And seeing both past and present unfold at the same time makes the narrative more compelling than if the story were told in chronological order. There is writerly craft here from the “deaths” that bookend the story and the many ways that White plays with notions of seeing and reading and feeling. 

As I finished and reflected, I found much to like and much that could be discussed with teens about choices and control. Plus, I’m glad I read it close to the release of the sequel since there is much still to discover.

Perhaps, in the mean time, I’ll start working on Anne of Green Gables and Zombies 😉


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