I am so excited to share this book! I have read over two hundred MG/YA books since reading The Hunger Games, a series that totally floored me. Out of those hundreds, Open Minds is the only one that glued my butt to my couch as The Hunger Games did. In fact, this review will be a little off-the-cuff, because I didn’t slow down to take notes like I usually do.
In an aside, the world of juvenile self-publishing does seem to be a small one. I first saw this book on D. Robert Pease’s design website. He’s the one who created this incredible cover art. (He’s also the indie author of the very excellent book, Noah Zarc, which I loved. I have to get the newly released book two.) I remember being totally struck by this cover. But it wasn’t until I saw the book again, in a BookBub promotion, that I picked it up.
Open Minds has a dystopian feel to it. Kira lives in Chicago in a world very different from ours. Because of a mutation linked to chemicals in the water supply, people have developed the ability to communicate telepathically. The skill kicks in roughly with the onset of puberty, and the rare child who fails to develop it is destined for life as a zero, the bottom of society. Kira is one such child. By age 16, she still hasn’t changed to a reader. She’s become something far worse.
Kira is a mindjacker. She can control other people’s minds.
Kira’s confusion, anger, and fear draw us into her story. We learn about her new skill as she does. Fortunately, she has Simon, a classmate and fellow jacker who guides her development. Unfortunately, Simon carries an undercurrent of danger, a hint of the underworld. Kira can’t tell her family about her new abilities for fear of their safety. Neither does she tell Raf, her best friend, and their relationship fills with lies.
Then Kira learns there are far greater dangers when one is a jacker. And in a world that reads minds, a secret is a very difficult thing to keep.
Let me say again, this is a riveting read, one I highly, highly recommend. And I’m proud to say it’s written by an indie author who did an amazingly professional job. The huge popularity of the book is testament to that. I do have a few negatives to mention, though. First, the terminology alienated me in the beginning, but that was probably just me. I was overwhelmed by the new culture (slang/music) as well as new technology like “hydrocars” and “nove-fiber.” Also, the catalyst that prompted this monumental, worldwide mutation felt coincidental and insufficiently explained. Finally, the flow felt a little rushed in some places, particularly at the seams where hard-hitting scenes mesh together or when Kira is reflecting. The prose grows a little matter-of-fact in these few spots. I found myself wishing the author had lingered a little longer, fleshed these moments out, given us more detail to savor.
But don’t let my little quirks sway you from checking out Open Minds. (At .99 it’s a steal!) They certainly didn’t affect my five star rating. Rarely has a book mindjacked my attention like this one. The premise is wonderfully unique, the action fast and hard-hitting, the prose clearly and smoothly written. Details tuck into a tight, intelligent package. All around, it’s the best book I’ve read in a long time, Big Six offerings included. I’ve already downloaded book two.
Geared for a YA audience, but completely appropriate for 10+. I’d honor it with a Bookworm Blather Squeaky Award except for a few omg’s.